Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Are You Making These 5 Fitness Mistakes?

Cameron Vincent, Licensed Wellness Coach

Many people make common mistakes when exercising, including using improper form, or not doing both cardiovascular exercise and strength training exercises. Here are 5 common fitness mistakes you should avoid.

Fitness mistake #1: Not regularly changing your fitness routine
Getting stuck in a training rut is probably the most common mistake of all. Yes, 20 minutes on the treadmill and three sets of 10 reps with 15-pound weights might be fine when you start out, but if you fail to increase either the length or intensity of the run and the weight or number of repetitions that you perform, the improvements will not continue. One study found that, in beginners, aerobic fitness begins to plateau in as little as three weeks when the training load does not increase. So, to continue making progress in fitness, you should raise the bar every six weeks at least, but ideally more often.

Fitness mistake #2: Not warming up before exercise
You may think you are saving time by not warming up, but you are actually making things harder for yourself. Research has shown a proper warm-up reduces the risk of injury and improves performance. Studies found that performing a warm-up reduced the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles, while research at Manhattan College in New York found that just five minutes of warming up enabled runners to exercise for longer than those who launched straight into their workout. For a proper warm-up, you only need to spend 5-10 minutes mobilizing your joints gently while getting your heart rate up.

Fitness mistake #3: Failing to track your progress
Every elite athlete keeps a training log which enables them to keep track of each training session, how they felt after a particular workout and to monitor whether they are improving or staying consistent. Now, you may not have your sights on the Olympics, but you should be keeping tabs on your workouts. Monitoring your progress helps to determine whether something is working or not. Keeping a training log is also a great way of staying motivated.

Fitness mistake #4: Pushing through aches and pains
How’s your knee? ‘Oh, it’s a bit sore. I ran last night and I’m going to see how it holds up in circuit training class today…’ If this is you, stop! Pain is your body’s way of saying that something is wrong. Injuries don’t just go away when you ignore them, they simply get worse! If you are have a nagging ache, keep an eye on it and, if necessary, take a day or two off. In the long run, listening to your body will enable you to improve your performance.

Fitness mistake #5: Doing sit-ups or crunches to get a “six-pack”
When someone says they want a “six-pack” or a flat belly, what they really mean is they want to get rid of the layer of fat covering the muscles in their midsection. You can think of doing sit-ups and crunches kind of like doing a bicep curl. Each type of exercise strengthens a specific group of muscles. And because both muscle groups are small, working them will not cause you to burn fat. The truth is you can’t target fat loss, also known as spot reduction, no matter how many crunches you do. The only way to lose fat from your belly is to lose fat from your entire body. High intensity, full-body exercises like circuit training or running up hills are most effective for fat loss.

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