While committing to a workout and hitting the gym is certainly the first step in making real fitness progress, it's necessary to maximize your time when in a session and avoid exercise hazards and inhibitors that can be hurting our workouts and interfering with our ability to find long-term success in achieving our health and wellness goals.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding exercises that they love and can stick with over time. Eating the right foods, staying hydrated, sticking to a schedule and embracing the positivity and benefits that exercise yields can make a workout more enjoyable and sustainable; however, if we aren't optimizing our time spent in the gym, we can hinder our calorie burn, strengthening opportunities and leaning and toning of core muscle groups. Several lifestyle factors and poor exercise habits can derail our progress in the gym and make us feel weaker, less motivated, frustrated and perhaps even injured. Look for these thirteen things that can be hurting our workouts and leaving us with inadequate results and disappointment. With a few simple tweaks, you'll be feeling better equipped, fitter and more powerful after each session, and your motivation to improve over time will only increase and lead to greater results.
1. Staying In Your Comfort Zone
While it might feel great to master a workout, as it can make you feel confident, in control and relaxed, your body adjusts to the same moves over time, and your results will dwindle. Often, a rut or plateau will form. "Continuing to do the things that are easy for us," says Alonzo Wilson, founder of Tone House in NYC, over email with Bustle, will limit our bodies from becoming stronger. "Instead, get out of your comfort zone and push the limits," he adds.
2. Not Sleeping Enough
Our bodies need sleep to restore our muscles and help us feel refreshed the next day. Much of muscle repair and strengthening occurs while we sleep, so if we miss a few hours, we might feel sore and weak the following day, which in turn can interfere with a great workout. "Your body needs sleep to perform and to recover. Not enough sleep will put hinder your results," says owner of Body Coach Personal Training in NYC, Chris Aronsen, over email with Bustle. Aim for seven to nine hours nightly.
3. Not Defining Your Goals
Creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based) goals that are targeted to your preferences and lifestyle is the best way to gain tangible results in the most efficient amount of time. "Not being clear on your goals," says Aronsen, can weaken a workout. "If your goal is to add muscle and all you do is run, then you are going to come up short and be disappointed," he explains.
4. Not Varying Workouts
The body gets accustomed to certain moves, and unless there's a change (even a minor change, such as changes in body-weight HIIT moves), it will stop producing the same results, as the body no longer gets that "shock" value and burn. "Your body is very adaptive, so you should always be altering your workouts towards the direction of your goals," says Aronsen. Try HIIT exercises and different types of cardio classes for variety.
5. Not Balancing Nutrients
Eating balanced foods is the best way to speed the metabolism, maximize burn and help our bodies function properly. It's best to include complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and "a balanced amino acid protein profile that contains pro and prebiotics to optimize gut microbiome and gut health," says founder and nutrition expert, Connor Young of Ample, over email with Bustle. Plus, due to "fat adaptation, or 'fat as fuel' mentality (especially before a run), will allow the body to burn fat at much higher rate," he adds.
6. You're Not Flexible
Even if you can run for miles and miles, if you are not flexible, certain muscle groups will not work properly and you'll be more prone for injuries. "Start working on your flexibility every day you workout. Imagine if your body cannot do a specific range of motion for a movement. If you try to force your body through that range of motion, your body is going to compensate and deviate. This stress can cause injury," says Reebok Trainer in LA, PJ Stahl, over email with Bustle.
7. You're Dehydrated
If you are not getting enough fluids during the day, especially before a workout and throughout the duration, you might experience weakness, tightness in muscles, lightheadedness or nausea. Such fatigue and aches can interfere with our ability to ace a workout and give it our best efforts. It can also make us enjoy the exercise less, leading us to be potentially less motivated long-term.
8. You Keep Going When You Need Rest
If you notice that your body is in pain or you might have an injury brewing (or fully blown, even!), it's important to take time off to heal to recover faster and get back to an exercise routine in a safe manner when the time is right. Plus, exercising with injuries can only lead to worse injuries long-term and delay the progress of recovery. Chronic pain and conditions can worsen your workouts for years if not treated on the spot.
9. You're Working Out Indoors
While there's nothing wrong with going on the elliptical, treadmill, or strength training machines, or taking a class at a boutique fitness studio, indoor workouts, especially in the summer, are not always suitable for everyone. If you find yourself bored easily, take a workout outside to be in nature and to see new and exciting sights. These will make you feel more engaged in workouts and able to run, jog, bike or sprint faster.
10. You Have Your Period
While this might just apply to people who have periods, that time of the month is real. When you are preparing your body for menstruation, and once you are experiencing it, the body tends to be in a weakened and sorer state, which can make workouts tougher on the body and can lower endurance and ability to excel in intense exercise movements. At this time, do something a bit lighter for activity, or give yourself a break if you can't utilize your usual power.
11. You're Working Out First Thing In The Morning
While some people love an early morning workout, as it can awaken the mind and body and get the workout out of the way so that they can feel free to take on any work or social obligations that might pop up later in the day, the joints and muscles are also more stiff, as they were stuck in a steady position throughout the night. Start with a light warmup to remedy the problem before sprinting off.
12. You're Not Including Compound Movements
Doing HIIT exercises, or high-intensity circuits, can help your body burn more calories in a shorter amount of time to maximize sessions and gain better and faster results. These involve whole muscle groups, which is great for cardio and strength training in one, and can include a variety of moves to keep your body on its toes. Plus, you should track your speed and time, with an eye on the clock, in order to be accurate for sprint and rest times.
13. You Don't Have The Right Attitude
If you go into a workout thinking that you have to in order to look a certain way or just get it over with, then it'll be less likely that you will thoroughly enjoy it and feel confident and successful in your workout endeavors. Think of exercise in a positive way, reminding yourself of its great mood-boosting, health, heart and productivity benefits, and use that powerful messaging to encourage excitement over workouts.
Once you get yourself to the gym or head outside for a run, that's when the real progress can either be made or be broken. By avoiding workout offenders that can kill a workout, on working on those can help you crush them (in a good way), you'll feel more in tune with your body and able to achieve long-lasting and powerful results.
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