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Wise Up and Invest in Your Workout Success - Six Top Fitness Faux Pas


Already dedicated exercisers make small but costly mistakes regularly in their workouts, and one tiny change can have a huge impact on their results. Time is valuable, and for each precious moment invested you want to ensure the best possible return. If your body is not yet as lean or toned as you would like, it is likely that you are committing some key training mistakes. These errors can sabotage the efforts of even veteran exercisers. By learning about the most common fitness faux pas and their fixes, you will mistake-proof your exercise and see tremendous payoffs. Six of the biggest fitness faux pas are?

Faux Pas #1 Skipping Over Your Warm-up The Facts? Warming up prepares the body to work efficiently: longer, stronger and more safely. Skipping your warm-up may cause you to fatigue early, keeping you from realizing your full potential. Perhaps more importantly, warming up drastically decreases your chance of injury. The time spent in a warm up is much less than the time required to heal a muscle strain or joint injury.

Smart Fix? Invest 5-10 minutes in performing a toned-down version of your fitness activity or perhaps instead something like walking or cycling at an easy pace. Some gentle range-of-motion exercises are always encouraged. Save the deep stretching for after your workout.

Faux Pas #2 Racing Through Your Reps The Facts? Racing through your repetitions when strength training uses momentum instead of muscle power. You just won't get the same stimulus for muscle building, and you won't burn nearly as many calories. You also make yourself more susceptible to training injuries such as torn muscles or connective tissue.

Smart Fix? Take a full six seconds to perform each repetition; 2 seconds to lift the weight and 4 seconds to lower it. Slowing down your performance speed is the single most significant change you can make to get better results from your strength training.

Faux Pas #3 Getting Married to Your Strength RoutineThe Facts? Doing the same routine again and again will cause your muscles to simply adapt. Without realizing it you are heading toward a plateau because each exercise stimulates only a limited number of muscle fibers. However, if you challenge your muscles from a variety of angles by adding or alternating moves periodically, you will recruit significantly more fibers into play and develop more tone and strength.

Smart Fix? For each muscle group, learn an additional 2 or 3 exercises, trying new angles and equipment. Expand your repertoire enough so that you can easily change your entire routine every 6-8 weeks. If you can't get instruction from a trainer, there are plenty of quality books, magazines and videos available.

Faux Pas #4 Exercising Too Intensely, Too OftenThe Facts? If you don't rest enough between hard cardio or strength workouts, you'll stop making progress and may even lose some of the fitness you have gained. You are also very likely to burn out on exercise.

Smart Fix? To keep your motivation high and your muscles fresh, alternate shorter, tougher cardio workouts (20 minutes, for example) with longer, easier ones (40-60 minutes). Don't go all-out more than twice a week. The more intensely you train, the more time your body needs to recover. Take a day off completely after a couple of tough workouts and make sure that you take at least one day off between strength training sessions that work the same muscle group.

Faux Pas #5 Lifting the Wrong Amount of WeightThe Facts? If you lift weights that are too light, you won't see improvements in tone, strength, or bone density. If you lift weights that are too heavy, you will compromise proper form, increasing your injury risk and diminishing your overall workout. You'll be forced to recruit additional muscles to help with the work, thereby cheating the muscles of a good workout. Unfortunately, a very common example of this is using the entire body to complete a biceps curl.

Smart Fix? For moderate strength building, perform 8-12 repetitions per set, for maximum strength building, perform 4-6 repetitions per set. The key is to choose weights heavy enough that you struggle through the final few reps, but not so heavy that you lose your form. If you get to your final rep and feel that you could perform another one, slightly increase the weight (5-10%). It's fine to drop a few reps as the weights increase. Just remember to fatigue the muscle by the final rep.

Faux Pas #6 Gliding Through Your Cardio WorkoutThe Facts? Getting complacent about your cardio workout can sabotage results as badly as pushing too hard. To truly boost your fitness levels, you need to venture beyond your comfort zone a couple of times during the week. This turbo-boost will actually enable you to burn more calories with even less

Smart Fix? Instead of zoning out or doing moderate-intensity cardio all the time, mix in some high-intensity intervals twice a week. This is a great area to add variety, have fun and play. Make a game of mixing your intensities over a six-week interval.

Take the time to analyze your workout routines and assess whether you are investing your time and energy for the absolute greatest results. Error-proof your exercise for a better workout and a much better body. Realize your body's full potential by using your mind to workout smart.

Copyright 2005. Karen B. Cohen All Rights Reserved

Karen B. Cohen is a performance and wellness coach as well as a personal fitness trainer, master yoga instructor (RYT500), and moving meditation teacher. Living in a college town in rural Virginia, she is available for seminars, workshops and individual coaching internationally. Karen can be reached through her latest project http://www.RockbridgeMag.com


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