5 Fitness Mistakes You Might be Making
Unless you've worked extensively with a phenomenal person trainer, it's inevitable that you'll make at least a few mistakes on your fitness journey. It's not your fault though! New information is coming out every day about the best ways to workout, often conflicting with other information and studies.
These are some of the biggest mistakes I've made that were preventing me from from reaching my full potential. I hope that you can learn from these and don't make the same mistakes I did.
1. Too little or too much weight
If you've been squatting with the same weight for a year, I bet you haven't been seeing the results you would like! I did that with 2 12-pound dumbbells--for a YEAR thinking that was the heaviest I could go. As soon as I realized I could and should be doing more, I saw incredible results. Now I squat around 150 pounds with the bar--quite a difference! In order to grow muscle and get stronger, your body needs to be under stress or in other words, it needs to be challenged. At the same time, I've also been guilty of using too much weight, which has caused me to complete the exercises with poor form. This is especially true when I'm doing arm exercises. For example, I started doing rear delt flies recently, thinking that I could use the same weight I do for the arm exercises I've been doing for 2 years. My form was so poor that I was using my whole upper body to complete 10 reps, taking the stress away from my rear delts and rendering the exercise, well almost useless! Completing the reps with proper form is essential, and if you're unable to, you need to use less weight. For a full guide on how to choose the correct weight, check out this article from NerdFitness.com.
2. Not adding intensity
Okay I know you don't want to hear this...but hear me out. I know when I first started working out, I would hop on the elliptical on the same resistance for 30 min or run on the treadmill at the same pace for 30 min. It's fine sometimes to do steady state cardio, but you will get much more out of your workout by adding some intensity. Add some sprints into your run and play with the resistance on the elliptical. When you're using weights try adding intensity by doing supersets (two moves back-to-back with no rest in between), tempo work (instead of doing moves like push-ups as fast you can try doing it slowly), or isometric holds (wall sits, hip bridge, holding a bicep curl at the top of the curl). A great way to add intensity is to change up your work to rest ratio. Typically I do HIIT 30 seconds on and 10 seconds rest, and sometimes I like to switch it up and do 45 seconds on and 15 seconds rest. It's not a huge difference but it's much more exhausting! For other ways to add intensity, check out this article from bodybuilding.com.
3. Improper neck posture
One of the most important parts of good technique is often neglected. We often get our feet, our butt, and our arms in position and ready, while we don't even think about our neck. If you've ever had a sore neck after a workout, you've probably made this mistake. Keeping your neck "natural" is vital to your workout. It all starts with where you'll looking. When deadlifting and squatting be sure to look straight ahead--not to the side, not down, not at other people in the gym. Keep your chin up and look forward in order to keep your neck in the right position. When in plank or push-up position, you should (again) be looking directly in front of you into the ground. I sometimes catch myself looking at my feet--which is a big no! Or I look in front of me to see what's going on around me. Something I learned recently is that when you're in low plank, keep your arms separated like an Egyptian cat. Clasping them can cause your neck muscles to get tense! When you're on your back, whether you're doing sit-ups or hip thrusts, you should keep your head in line with your back. You shouldn't be looking directly into the ceiling unless you're completely flat on your back. For info on what your posture should look like, check out this article from BodyBuilding.com.
4. Not doing any cardio
If you're like me and you like to read what people say about working out online (which you probably will if you're reading this) you've probably heard people say that you don't need to do cardio to be healthy or lose weight. This is partially true--you can lose weight and get in shape only using weights or doing HIIT work. BUT there's a reason why cardio is so popular. It's good for you!! Cardio makes your heart so much stronger. I've heard people in their late 50s say they lifted weights their whole lives but have heart problems, because they never did cardio. And it's not like cardio won't help you lose weight! Cardio is great at lowering your fat percentage and giving you the "runner's high". You don't have to run to get in a good cardio workout though! There are so many different options, from the elliptical to stairclimber to swimming to dancing! Find something you love, but trust me cardio is important! A balance between lifting weights and cardio will get you into your best shape ever! To learn more about the benefits of cardio, check out this article from verywellfit.com.
5. Trying too many different plans and not sticking to one
I love scrolling through Pinterest trying to find new 30-month plans or convincing myself I'm going to start going to spin class every morning for a month. But here's the thing--there's nothing better than consistency with a plan. Don't give up if you don't see results after a couple weeks, because results take time to be seen. I do a 4-week deadlifting program that I keep repeating. It's based off your one-rep max (when you lift something at such a high weight that you can only do one rep), so I update it every month based on that and I'm able to see how much stronger I'm getting by trusting the program. Don't quit something if you're not seeing results right away. Consistency is KEY to improving. At the same time, it wouldn't make much sense for me to keep doing the same program with the same weight month after month. Keep with the same program but make sure you're still challenging yourself. Here's an article from Harvard Health with tips on how to stick to a routine!