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10 Common Workout Mistakes


Through the years, I have seen many interesting and creative exercises performed in the gym. I've also observed some wacky ones...

Through the years, I have seen many interesting and creative exercises performed in the gym. I’ve also observed some wacky ones…

I have witnessed an exerciser wearing a full sauna suit while walking briskly on the treadmill. I assume this individual was attempting to “melt” off body fat, like a chicken on a rotisserie.

I have passed by someone walking on the treadmill while also pumping away with 30-lb dumbbells in each hand. I can only guess he was worried about floating upward above the treadmill during midworkout, and that a little added weight might help keep him grounded.

I have watched older gentlemen “train” their wives by using the same workout they learned while in the army–40 years before.

While these examples are extreme, here are some mistakes that I routinely see in the gym, along with some suggestions for avoiding them.

Happy training…and pass on my condolences to your physiotherapist!

1. Talking while working out

I don’t want to sound rude, but please stop the chatting! Your breathing should be somewhat laboured when using the cardio equipment and your muscles fatigued when lifting weights–leaving little energy for an in-depth conversation about the latest Oprah show.

2. Avoiding training beyond your comfort level

I believe that 90 percent of us do not train as hard as we should, and the remaining 10 percent of us train too hard. How do you solve this problem? Try wearing a heart rate monitor when performing cardio exercises. When lifting weights make sure that at the end of your set, you are unable to lift another rep with good form.

3. Doing the same old thing

If you are still doing the same workout you did this time last year, it is time to mix it up. Physiologically, it takes the body about eight to 12 weeks to adapt to a new stress, which is why it is important to continuously change up your routine.

4. Training only some of the muscles

If you want a functional body, you must train the right muscles. It is quite common for people to train only what they can see (for example, the fronts of the arms and shoulders or the legs) and forget about the structures within the joints that help those muscles do their jobs. Of significance are the deep core muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, and the postural muscles.

5. Training without a purpose

It doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 60, have a fitness goal in mind, and train for it with intention and determination.

6. Slouching

It is essential that you know how and are able to hold a neutral spine throughout any given exercise. If you slouch (even slightly) while performing a strength-training movement, you will not only be placing the spine in a vulnerable position but you will also be strengthening your body in that precarious position.

7. Breathing improperly

When exercising, breathing plays a crucial role in supplying the working muscles with oxygen. Most people, however, do not know how to breathe properly. A good breathing pattern starts with an inhalation through the nose (while keeping your shoulders from lifting up toward your ears), filling the chest and then the belly. Exhale through your mouth, releasing all the air from the belly.

8. Not knowing when to stop

Unless you are intent on paying for your physiotherapist’s next Hawaiian vacation, ask yourself if the pain you are feeling is from muscle fatigue, or whether it could be something more. If unsure, avoid possible injury by re-checking your posture and positioning, or get rid of that particular exercise and try another one.

9. Building up too quickly

Make sure your program is progressive and allows for your body to slowly adapt. This is particularly important for the connective tissue. If a load is too great for the connective tissue around the joints to handle, you can cause injury to the joint, tendon, ligament, or muscle–and add even more generously to your physiotherapist’s Hawaiian vacation fund.

10. Making exercise too much work

Exercising should not be complicated. It is simply a matter of putting on your favourite runners and getting out there. Don’t make it too complicated, too boring, or too much like work!



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Shawn RadcliffeShawn Radcliffe