You’re Probably Making These 3 Exercise Mistakes
Most of us are our own trainers, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
In a world where fitness plans can be rounded out by any number of exercise classes or gym routines, each with little or no instruction as to how to best train for your individual body, it should come as no shock that we’re all probably working out wrong. If you are one of the lucky few who has a personal trainer, you might have escaped some of the most common pitfalls. Then again, even a trainer may not save you from one or two of these.
For example: Are you training hard enough? The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise—plus two or more days of strength training, hitting up all the main muscle groups, as CNN reports.
Even if you tick all the boxes, there’s a good chance you’re under-training. A general rule of thumb is that you should be able to talk, but not break out into song, during moderate-intensity exercise. For those in vigorous mode, speaking more than a few words without stopping to take a breath should be impossible. So if you’re chatting on the phone while you’re on the elliptical (guilty), you’re not working hard enough to qualify as “vigorous.”
To keep your intensity levels on point, it’s important to change up the type and duration of your workout, and play with the level of intensity. When you’re doing reps at the gym (or at the Pilates studio), your last rep should be the one that feels like it must be your last—where it would be difficult to do another.
Even if you’re killing it on the workout front, you may be training too specifically, according to CNN. Maybe you’re in love with spinning, or perhaps you can’t get enough yoga, but if you only do one type of exercise, you’re upping your chances of injury due to overuse issues and repetitive movements. Experts suggest mixing muscle-strengthening exercise with moves to challenge balance and flexibility, so you’re building muscle and keeping your tendons and joints happy.
The third common exercise gaffe is one I think I can safely say we’ve all experienced: The phenomenon of doing too much too soon. There you are, in the front row at Monster Cycle or whatever, and you’re zooming along, and the instructor has you on the third hill of the day, and Drake is playing, so you go HAM, and then you can’t walk the next day.
It’s hard to rein yourself in sometimes! The American College of Sports Medicine contributes the very boring suggestion that you “start low and go slow,” aka begin with low-intensity exercise and increase your duration and frequency slowly, as CNN reports. Boring, perhaps, but wise. And rest—not to be discounted in this equation, rest will keep you from risking injury and allow your muscles to develop properly. They suggest a whopping 48 to 72 hours of rest between strength-training sessions, so if you’re hitting the gym daily, you might want to rethink your strategy.
When you just want to do Pilates in peace, it’s annoying to hear all of the things you might be doing wrong. Of course, as long as you’re falling within the recommended guidelines and your body feels good, you’re probably doing OK. Don’t forget to warm up before any workout and stretch afterward, and fuel your workout properly with healthy food and enough rest (and sleep). It’s a lot to keep in mind. When in doubt, let your body be your guide. If you’re up for a workout, and you’re feeling fine during and after your session, props. Just be sure you can’t sing during any of your cardio.
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