As it’s the beginning of 2017 and everyone is making their best efforts to eat healthy, get active and lose weight, I thought it was the perfect time to share the top 7 mistakes that people can make which can affect their weight loss. I discovered these tips through trial and error and am certain that if you avoid doing these and are aware that they can sabotage your hard work then you can steer clear and continue on the right path. If you’ve been making any of these mistakes, don’t worry! You can always implement the right way from now on! So, let’s get to it!
Mistake 1 – Failing to plan
Most of us have heard the saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. This is true in life and it’s true in exercise.
Working out without a workout plan is like flying a plane blind. If you can’t see where you’re going, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up being where you want to be at the end of the trip.
Good exercise plans take account of your fitness and weight loss goals, where you currently are in relation to that goal, your level of experience and other considerations like the amount of time you have available, and any injuries or ailments that need to be worked around.
If you’re still not confident or sure what to do, I suggest you enlist the help of a qualified personal trainer or gym instructor to design a personalized strength and aerobic training program just for you.
Mistake 2 – Training Too Much
When it comes to working out and dieting, the golden rule is less is more. You may feel that if you cut more calories or workout out more, you will see more results. In reality, however, you will leave yourself barely able to cope. If you are cutting your calories, you already don’t have sufficient nutrients to truly sustain your body. If you then also increase the amount of training that you do, it quickly becomes obvious that you will wear yourself out.
“Exercising excessively or incorrectly can backfire on your health in a number of ways. Your body can enter a catabolic state, in which your tissues break down.”
What you should do instead is what is known as the “minimum effective dose,” which means you do as little as possible while still seeing results. Three sets of around one hour a week are more than enough.
Mistake 3 – Not stretching
Stretching is one of the most important aspects of any training program, but it is amazing how often it is neglected.
Among other things, stretching can help you:
- Maintain flexibility.
- Reduce pain and discomfort (ongoing and post workout).
- Correct muscle imbalances.
- Exercise effectively and efficiently.
- Avoid injury.
- By doing all of these things, stretching has a direct affect on your ability to burn calories and lose weight in the long term.
In addition, stretching generally makes you feel better, like the way a massage does.
Ideally, try to stretch your major muscles and the ones you are going to use in your workouts, before and after you complete your routine. Just remember to warm up your muscles slightly before your pre-workout stretch.
Mistake 4 – Too Much Cardio
Cardio is a firm favorite amongst people who want to lose weight. It gets your heart rate going and burns a whole lot of calories, so it must be good for you. It is certainly true that cardio should be an integral part of your weight loss regimen, but there is such a thing as too much as well. Remember, less is more! Again, you are at significant risk of burn out.
“There is this horrible misperception in our society about fat loss. A lot of people think that if you starve yourself and do two or three hours of cardio each day, the fat is just going to melt off. Actually, performing too much cardio will put your body in a catabolic state and burn hard-earned muscle. The loss of muscle will not only reduce strength, but it will also slow down your metabolism. If your metabolism slows down too much, you’ll have a tough time burning fat.”
If you want to lose weight fast, it is far more important to focus on your diet. Keep the calories down and do only a bit of cardio. This will increase your metabolic rate, leading to weight loss.
Mistake 5 – Training at the same intensity
This mistake typically takes one of two forms; training with too low an intensity all the time, or training with too high an intensity all the time.
As far as your weight loss and fitness goals are concerned, both of these are less than ideal for fairly obvious reasons (too low an intensity won’t maximize fitness or weight loss and too high an intensity can be de-motivating and lead to overuse injuries putting a halt to long term weight loss).
Interestingly, the most common mistake we see in this area is training with too high an intensity, particularly when it comes to aerobic activities like jogging or cycling.
The problem most people get into with these activities is training at the fastest pace they can maintain all the time. This is a mistake.
Look at the training schedules of professional runners and cyclists and you’ll see that most of their yearly training is completed at a relatively moderate intensity. Sure these guys and gals train at the higher intensities too, but only for relatively short periods of time at specific points in their training program, like during the weeks just prior to major races.
If you jog, cycle, row or perform some other type of aerobic exercise in your routine, make sure that most of your training are at the intensities represented by the 60 – 70% and 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate zones.
Mistake 6 – Not resting enough
The flip side of not exercising enough is training too much and not getting enough rest.
Rest has a vital role to play in life and in exercise, and getting the mix of activity and rest right is vital in both.
Common signs of over-training include:
- Disinterest in exercise.
The right amount of rest helps us recover from our workouts to ensure we get the best out of our next session and helps the body to work at higher levels of intensity by adding muscle and increasing energy level stores within our muscles.
Rest after working hard is also fun, a good excuse to do something you like (like go for a picnic) and a great reward for a job well done.
Mistake 7 – Using improper technique
If you don’t use the right technique when exercising you won’t be getting the maximum benefit out of each workout and you’re inviting injuries which could set you well back on the road to your ideal weight and fitness level.
This is as true for those doing aerobic exercises as it is for those doing weight training. For example, I’ve lost count of the cyclists I’ve seen with their bike seats set too low or riding the wrong sized bike.
To make sure you’re performing your exercises properly:
Do some homework – find out what the right technique is.
Get help from a professional (such as a trainer or coach).
Check your technique periodically to make sure everything’s as it should be.
If your goal is to lose weight, regular exercise should become part of your everyday life. But like everything in life, there are those who perform good exercise practices and those who perform poor exercise practices. Those who exercise properly know exactly what to do and how to do it because they’ve done their homework and learnt from the experience of others.
I hope that after reading this article you have a new awareness of the most common exercise mistakes and know how to avoid them so that your workouts are safe and effective, and help you to achieve your weight loss goals and become a happier, healthier you.