I’ve often been amazed at the number of people who tell me that they work out faithfully but don’t get the results they want. In most cases, this is due to common mistakes that make their workouts less effective. Not only are these mistakes a waste of vital energy, they can lead to serious injuries and sidetrack a positive attitude.
Here’s a list of common mistakes with simple remedies to keep your workout working for you:
The warm-up: Jumping into your workout without giving your body a chance to raise core temperature and gradually increase heart rate can cause injuries and muscle stiffness and soreness. Just a few minutes of warm-up at the beginning of your aerobic workout can set the stage for a safer and more enjoyable cardio session.
Stretching: Flexible muscles are less likely to be injured. When your muscles are warm and pliable, your body responds better to the stretches. Stretching will also decrease muscle soreness and stiffness the next day. For better results, incorporate stretching after your cardio or weight lifting sessions.
Treadmill: Doing the same old walk or run on the treadmill ensures that your body will adapt and snooze through the progress you’re hoping to awaken. Instead of setting the pace and the elevation at a single level, try variations of both. A few minutes at a faster pace or more challenging elevation level will wake up your workout. The resulting muscle confusion will improve results and keep you inspired to stick to your plan.
Stair Steppers and Elliptical Equipment: If you lean on the handrails for support while you hike the resistance up, the result will be stress on your wrists, arms and shoulders. It’s better to set the resistance at a level you can maintain without leaning for support. Variation of pace is also important if you want to achieve the most results for the time spent.
Use your core muscles for more than crunches: Whether you’re walking, running, riding a bike, working out on cardio equipment, or even gardening, you can strengthen your core muscles. Actively engage the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to support you during movement and you’ll improve muscle tone through your mid-section. (To identify your pelvic floor muscles, use the same ones you would use to stop the flow of urine. It takes a while to train those muscles to engage, so allow a little time to develop them.)
Strength Training: Lifting heavy weights is one thing, jerking them to lift is a different matter. Jerking the weights causes stress on the joints, not the muscles. Slow down and complete each repetition without extra momentum to achieve the lift. As soon as you can finish 16 repetitions with a particular weight, increase the amount slightly. The result will be much better muscle tone without tendon or joint injuries.
Nothing is quite as inspiring as results to help us stick with a workout plan. For improved results, regularly assess your workouts. Change things up. Keep injuries at bay by stretching, warming up, and controlling your movements while weight lifting. The benefits will show up as improved muscle tone, cardio vascular fitness and injury-free workouts.
- Pam Brooks