Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Top 10 Exercise or Fitness Mistakes

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How many times have you heard it? Exercise, exercise, exercise… It seems nowadays doctors, friends, family, and total strangers are quick to point out that you need to exercise more. But, how often do you hear what not to do, or how to exercise correctly? This article is not going to be an exhaustive concordance on proper exercise techniques, but a short list of the top ten mistakes associated with exercise. As you begin, or continue, an exercise routine, keep these mistakes in mind so you can avoid their consequences.

  1. Using cardio equipment improperly by hanging on to the equipment or slouching. – If there are instructions, or a diagram of the equipment you’re using, study it carefully. Stand or sit up straight. Maintain good posture. If you are finding yourself hanging or leaning on the machine, you’re fatigued and should take a break.
  2. Losing focus instead of practicing mindful exercise and thinking about the muscles you’re working until you can feel the resistance in those areas. – Concentrate on the reason you are performing each exercise. This focus will help you get more out of your workouts in less time, while assuring you use proper biomechanics.
  3. Thinking cardio is enough and skipping strength training exercises. – True rehabilitation and long-term improvements only come by strengthening your muscles. “Strength training” does not necessarily mean “body building,” but increasing muscle strength and stability.
  4. Failing to vary your routine by adding an extra workout per week, increasing your workout by 5-10 minutes, using interval training or adding an incline. – Just as your body can build up a resistance certain medications, it will also “get used to” the same activity performed over and over. Confusing your body by varying your routine will help stave off the dreaded “plateau effect.”
  5. Believing you can eat anything if you exercise, even though one extra “treat” each day can more than make up for the calories burned in a workout. – All the exercise or gadgets in the world won’t help you lose weight, get in shape, or live healthier if you don’t follow a healthy eating plan. What all the infomercials fail to tell you is that all of those hard-body models using their equipment tailor their diet to get them to their goals.
  6. Performing strength-training exercises improperly by failing to adjust the seat height and weight of the machines before you use them. – I can’t stress the importance of doing your exercises correctly enough. This is probably the single most common cause for exercise-related pain or injury.
  7. Setting unrealistic expectations. If you want results, you’ve got to do the work. – No brainer here. Don’t expect to be pain free with ripped biceps after doing curls for two weeks. Developing strength and changing how your body functions is a process of retraining the entire structure, there is a process that the body must go through to achieve lasting results.
  8. Rushing your reps, which raises blood pressure, increases your risk for joint injury and compromises your results. – For the most part, slow and controlled movements will give you better results. It’s not how many reps you perform, it’s how you complete those that you do.
  9. Consuming sports drinks and energy bars during a moderate workout that lasts less than 60 minutes. – Sports drinks and energy bars are nothing more than drugs designed to stimulate a temporary reaction in the body. These can lead to pushing your body beyond its limits and putting you at risk for injury. Stick with water and a proper dietary plan that includes a proper balance of carbs and proteins.
  10. Burning yourself out. Motivation is a great thing, but starting off too strong can lead to quick burnout, soreness and eventually giving up. – Be realistic with yourself. If you’ve not been doing a regular exercise routine, what makes you think you’ll stick to an hour-a-day plan. For that matter… what makes you think your body can handle it? Start off slowly, and gradually increase the amount of time and strenuous components of your routine. Remember, you’re doing this so you can live a long, healthy life. Make sure you don’t forget to include family time, work time, and individual time when you’re planning your schedule.

Working out may seem like it should come naturally, but even the most experienced gym-goers have room to learn. We all make mistakes, but if you’re spending the time and energy on a workout, you may as well reap the benefits.

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2 Responses to “Top 10 Exercise or Fitness Mistakes”

  1. cath796 said

    I HAVE BEEN ON A HEALTH KICK FOR A WHILE NOW I DONT HAVE MUCH WEIGHT TO LOSE MAYBE JUST A FEW POUNDS I JUST NEED TO TONE UP AND HAVE JUST STARTED WALKING EVERY MORNING TAKING 10,000 STEPS A DAY AND I CAN ALREADY SEE AND FEEL THE DIFFERENCE

  2. Dr. Josh Sonsiadek said

    Proper posture and lifting technique makes all the difference in the world. When you slouch on the treadmill or elliptical you are not using the proper muscles, and you will tend to injure yourself and fatique at a much quicker rate.

    A plan with reasonable and attainable goals is the key to success. I also like to use my heart rate monitor, so I can stay in about the 60 to 90% range of my target heart rate. This has really help me pace my workout and create that fat burning enviornment.

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