Top Workout Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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1. Overdoing it – Often, when people find the inspiration to get fit, they tend to do too much too soon. Shifting from inactivity to intense exercise is stressful to your heart, lungs, muscles and joints, and it takes your body time to adjust to the increased load. There are limits to how much stress the body can tolerate before it breaks down and risks injury. Plus, overdoing it can lead to sudden burn-out.


Instead, start slow. Gradually increase your exercise volume and intensity by about 10% per week over the course of a few weeks, and balance exercise with rest and recovery. Current recommendations are for four hours of moderate intensity activity a week, including a balance of cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility and neuromotor exercise. If you’re just starting, I advise working with a qualified trainer who will do a screening, teach proper techniques, and set up an appropriate fitness program for your goals.


2. Only doing Cardio – Many people, particularly women, believe the antiquated idea that cardio will make them slim and resistance training will make them bulky. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies suggest that as you increase your lean muscle mass, your body is able to burn up to 4x more calories while in a resting state, plus resistance training strengthens our bones, improves our posture and reduces the likelihood of injury.


3. Poor Form – Workout injuries can happen to anyone. However, by using just a few precautions, you can reduce your risk for injury. Always warm-up and cool-down before and after a workout. Listen to your body, the “no-pain, no-gain” philosophy is recipe for disaster! Wear appropriate clothing, drink plenty of water and fuel your workouts.


If you’re using equipment like a treadmill or stair stepper, do not to slouch or hang on the bars. Before starting a weight-lifting or exercise routine, I highly suggest that you meet with a trainer. It is worth every penny to keep you safe and injury-free. Your trainer can show you how to work out correctly and help you create a safe and realistic exercise program.


4. Seeking a quick fix. It’s pretty easy to fall victim to the latest marketing gimmick promising quick results. I am here to tell you that there is not a pill, exercise machine, supplement, or meal replacement powder that can match the long-term benefits of good nutrition and exercise. There is NOT a quick fix, and many people are wasting money and time on gimmicks promising them the quick solution. Eat well and move your body. That’s the secret.


5. Not understanding the role of nutrition – This is a BIG one. After all, the workout is 1 hour of the day, and what you do with the other 23 hours is what truly makes the difference in your health and fitness. Nutrition is important when exercising so that your body is able to endure your workout, recover from it, and get stronger. Whether your goal is to gain strength, lose weight or improve athletic performance, nutrition will play a key role in your success. For those trying to lose weight, it’s important to remember that you cannot out-exercise a poor diet.


6. Giving up too quickly – Achieving your fitness goals takes time. There are a lot of variables that determine how fast you lose weight or gain muscle such as baseline fitness, genetics, diet, training methods, gender, and age. If weight loss is your goal and you’re following a plan that combines physical activity with healthy eating, 2 pounds per week is a healthy expectation. Keep in mind that it is very common for our bodies to burn more efficiently over time and to occasionally plateau. Stick with your training. You may not see bulging muscles in one session of lifting or maybe you can’t run 5 miles in 40 minutes after a week on the treadmill, but patience and consistency will eventually get you the results you want to see.


7. Failing to Plan – I hate to be cliché but failing to plan is planning to fail. Come up with a plan. Write down your goals and what path you will take to get there – and then stick to it! It can be as simple or complex as you want, but by scheduling your workouts and creating guidelines for yourself, you will be more accountable and also have a baseline to measure your success. Don’t forget to include a plan for nutrition along with your workout plans!


8. Not listening to your body – When exercising, it’s okay to feel discomfort. However, you should never feel pain. Recognize the difference between pushing yourself and hurting yourself. If you’re in pain when exercising, there is something wrong and you should stop and seek out the assistance of a qualified personal trainer who can keep you moving safely.


9. Neglecting the warm-up and stretch. Jumping right into a vigorous workout without warming up puts you at risk for pulled or torn muscles. Instead, take a few moments to warm up the body, using lower intensity movements that mimic the exercise you are about to perform. Avoid static stretching during the warm-up and instead use dynamic or moving stretches. Save the static stretches for the end of your workout.


10. Forgetting about fun. It’s really hard to stay dedicated to something that you don’t enjoy. Thankfully, there are endless modes of exercise and there’s certain to be something out there that you will love. Keep your expectations realistic. You do not need to be a sweat-dripping, iron-pumping body builder or a marathon runner in order to reap the benefits of exercise. Think about the things you like and build off of that. Is it music? Being outdoors? Spending time with friends? Build those things into your workouts to add some fun!


If you need help to come up with a plan and to avoid these common workout mistakes, check out Symmetry Training & Fitness on the web at They have an 8 week challenge starting on June 22 that is a perfect way for beginners to start their fitness journey!


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