Cross Training For Runners

Avoiding Pitfalls: 7 Common Workout Mistakes Everyone Should Know

8 Mins read

We all know that working out is fantastic for our fitness and health. It boosts our cardiovascular health, strengthens our muscles and bones, lowers stress levels, improves sleep, and enhances memory.

However, bleeding it out on the gym floor isn’t the best way. If you’re serious about getting the most out of regular exercise, you’ve got to do it right. Otherwise, you might as well stay on the couch (gasp!).

Here’s the truth.

Some serious workout mistakes could derail your progress and leave you feeling hurt and disappointed. And guess what? We’ve all been guilty of making these blunders, especially when we’re new to the exercise game. But fear not! I’m here

So, let’s get down to business and uncover the five workout mistakes you must avoid like the plague.

  1. Doing Cardio Before Lifting

The age-old debate: cardio or lifting weights first? Let’s dive into this sweaty dilemma.

Studies have shown that the order of your exercises can make a world of difference. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that for those whose primary goal is to build strength is to avoid doing cardio before lifting. How come? This, as you can tell, could sabotage your results since when you exhaust yourself on the treadmill or elliptical machine, you’re left with little energy and stamina for the heavy lifting that follows.

Imagine trying to conquer a challenging barbell squat when your legs are wobbly from that intense cardio session. You’ll struggle to maintain proper form, and that’s a fast track to injury junction.

So, what’s the fix? Save your strength for the weightlifting portion of your workout. Put those squats, deadlifts, and bench presses front and center. By prioritizing strength training first, you’ll have the energy and focus to give it your all. And hey, when you’re done pumping iron and feeling like the Hulk, you can hop on the cardio train and enjoy the benefits it brings.

Now, I get it. Some days, you may find yourself drained after an intense strength workout. Your muscles are begging for mercy, and jumping on the treadmill seems like cruel and unusual punishment. Fear not! If that’s the case, simply reschedule your cardio session for another day or squeeze it in later in the evening when you’ve had time to recharge.

  1. Static Stretching Before a Workout

Stretching helps improve flexibility, prevent injuries, and enhance performance. But here’s the catch: static stretching, where you hold a stretch for what feels like an eternity, may not be your best move before diving into a weightlifting session.

Why, you ask?

Imagine your nervous system as a serene lake, calm and collected. Now, imagine static stretching as a tranquilizer dart, gently sedating that once serene lake. Instead of feeling vibrant and ready for action, you’ll feel more like a sloth on a hammock—sluggish and far from optimal performance.

I didn’t come up with this.

A study published in the prestigious Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research discovered that static stretching before weightlifting could sedate your nervous system and decrease your overall performance.

But fear not, my fellow fitness enthusiasts! There’s a fix to this problem. Enter dynamic stretching, the superhero of warm-ups. Dynamic stretching is like waking up your muscles with a lively dance routine. It increases your joints’ range of motion and fires up your muscles, preparing them for the exhilarating challenge.

So, before you grab those weights, treat your body to a 10-minute warm-up filled with dynamic movements. Picture yourself kicking your butt (figuratively, of course) with butt-kicks, lifting those legs with leg lifts, strutting through walking lunges, swirling your arms with arm circles, bringing your knees to your chest like a playful kangaroo, and kicking your legs straight out with gusto.

Save the static stretching for the grand finale—the post-workout celebration.

  1. Ignoring Weaknesses

Think of your fitness journey as a puzzle—a magnificent chain with multiple links. Each link represents a different exercise or fitness component.

Push-ups, chin-ups, planks—they’re all essential links in this grand chain. Sure, you may be a push-up powerhouse, but neglecting those chin-ups and planks is like leaving a weak link in the chain, jeopardizing its strength and integrity.

If you want to unlock your full fitness potential, it’s crucial to identify those weak links and give them the attention they deserve. Take a moment to reflect on your fitness journey and ask yourself, “What have I been neglecting?” Is it agility, strength, endurance, or perhaps something else entirely?

Already identified your weak spots? Then it’s time to address them.

Sure, it may require some technique refinement and patience, but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start incorporating those neglected exercises into your training routine and gradually build your competency.

To truly embrace a well-rounded approach, assess your current level of fitness. Assess the different components of your fitness, including your aerobic endurance, strength, agility, body composition, and more.

  1. Ignoring Recovery

Proper recovery is the secret ingredient in a recipe for success that many overlook. But let me tell you, my fitness-seeking friend, neglecting proper recovery is like treading on thin ice—it may seem fine at first, but sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in a chilly predicament.

Recovery is the magical elixir that allows your body to rebuild and repair the micro-traumas inflicted by intense exercise. It’s during these precious moments of downtime that your muscles knit themselves back together, stronger and more resilient than before. Think of it as the intermission between acts in a grand performance. Without that break, the show simply cannot go on.

So, it’s crucial to honor this recovery process if you want to unleash your true potential. Don’t mess with the delicate balance of rest and exertion. Failing to give your body the rest it needs will limit the results you can achieve.

Here’s what you should do. Make recovery a part of your running plan, just like any other workout.

Plan those rest days strategically, especially after particularly challenging sessions. Your body needs time to replenish its energy stores, heal those micro-tears, and bounce back stronger.

What’s more?

You perform better after a few days of rest. No harm done.

But we’re not done yet! Remember to schedule a recovery week every three to five weeks. This week, you’ll dramatically reduce your training volume, allowing your body to fully recharge and rejuvenate. It’s like pressing the reset button on your fitness journey—a chance to return stronger and more motivated than ever.

fitness goals

  1. Unrealistic Expectations

Let me ask you, my determined companion, are your goals dancing within the realm of reality? Or have they taken a detour into the land of the impossible?

Here’s a reality check: if your goal is to shed 30 pounds in a mere month, pack on 10 pounds of pure muscle, and conquer a sub-3-hour marathon in less than three months, all while juggling a tight 40-minute daily training window, then it’s time to reorient your compass.

Chasing unrealistic goals is like chasing unicorns—you’ll only end up exhausted and disappointed. It’s like expecting to learn a new language fluently overnight or becoming a master chef with one cooking class. Fitness growth is a slow and steady journey akin to nurturing a delicate plant from a tiny seed. It requires patience, dedication, and a realistic approach.

So, here’s the fix: let’s reset those expectations and set our sights on smaller, more attainable goals. Think of it as building stepping stones toward your ultimate destination. Write them down, make them tangible, and monitor your progress. This way, when you measure your achievements, you’ll have clear and concrete markers of success.

And here’s a little secret: embrace your uniqueness. Your fitness journey is as individual as your fingerprint, my friend. Sure, the success stories and transformations you stumble upon online can be inspiring, but remember, they are not your story. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty.

  1. Not Having a Plan

Picture this: you step into the gym, fueled with determination and ready to conquer your workout. But there’s a problem. You have no plan. It’s like setting sail without a destination—your time and effort adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Trust me, my friend, this is the perfect recipe for wasting precious gym time.

Have you ever wandered the gym, unsure what exercises to tackle or which equipment to grab?

As the wise saying goes, “failure to plan is planning for failure.” And in the realm of fitness, this couldn’t be truer.

When you dive into your workout without a clear action plan, you’re essentially shooting arrows in the dark, hoping to hit the bullseye. But here’s the hard truth: you’re severely limiting your gains and robbing yourself of the progress you deserve.

So, here’s the fix: before stepping foot into the gym, take a moment to set your intentions and create a solid plan of attack. Think of it as charting a course to your fitness success.

Here’s what to do

  • Grab a pen and piece of paper or open up a fitness app
  • Write down your exercise plan
  • Outline the specific exercises, including the number of sets and reps

That’s all.

For example, you might jot down, “Today, I’ll conquer three sets of chest presses, pushups, pull-ups, clean presses, and planks.”

Of course, this may seem too basic, but having an average place is better than no plan at all. It serves as your compass, guiding you through your workout and ensuring you hit all the important muscle groups. With a plan in hand, you’ll navigate the gym with confidence, avoiding the bewildered look of a lost tourist.

Here’s another tip: Shoot for three workouts per week, each lasting around 30 to 45 minutes. Remember, quality over quantity. It’s better to have a focused and intense workout than to spend hours wandering from machine to machine.

Arm yourself with a plan, a roadmap to success. It’s a small investment that will yield substantial returns. And who knows, with a plan in hand, you might just find yourself surpassing your own expectations and achieving new heights of fitness greatness. So grab that pen, outline your goals, and let’s make every gym session count.

  1. Bad Form

Ah, the allure of the iron paradise, where strength is forged, and muscles are sculpted. But beware of a lurking danger that threatens to sabotage your progress: bad form. It’s one of the most common workout mistakes that I witness far too often in the gym.

Imagine this: you’re gripping that barbell, ready to conquer your next set. But if your technique is off, you’re walking on thin ice. Ignoring proper form not only puts you at risk of injury but it also undermines the very essence of your efforts. It’s like trying to build a sturdy house on a shaky foundation—a recipe for disaster.

Let me ask you, is that what you want? To invest your time and energy into workouts that fall short of their potential? I didn’t think so. That’s why mastering proper technique is your golden ticket to unlocking the full potential of your workout.

Here’s what to do:

Before you even think about adding weight to your exercises, make it a rule to practice each movement with no weight in front of a mirror. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the proper form and ensure you’re engaging the right muscles for each motion. It’s like rehearsing your lines before stepping onto the grand stage.

Once you’ve mastered the art of form, then—and only then—can you start adding weight to the equation. But remember, my friend, every lift should adhere to a set of principles. Keep your shoulders down and back, engage your core throughout, maintain a flat back, and listen to your body’s cues every step of the way. And most importantly, rely on the targeted muscles to do the heavy lifting rather than relying on momentum to carry you through.

What’s more?

Look for reputable sources that offer guidelines and form corrections specific to your exercises of choice. With practice and attention to detail, you’ll soon find yourself performing with grace and strength, maximizing the benefits of every single rep.

So, my friend, let’s banish bad form from our workouts and embrace the beauty of precise execution. Together, we’ll build a foundation of strength and ensure that every minute spent in the gym yields remarkable results.

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