Just Getting Int Fitness? Avoid These Common MistakesBy Patrick Wood, ATC, CSCS
Lots of people decide to become more active to achieve a fitness goal such as losing weight or adding muscle – especially when the new year looms and they want to make a change. They are dedicated but can make some common mistakes. Hopefully, this article will help you avoid those mistakes so you can get a good start towards your goal.
Mistake #1: Going “too hard, too soon”
This is a very common mistake. The resulting stress on your muscles can cause you to be so sore that you cannot move and might not be able to finish out the week’s workouts. Not only will your body not be able to recover properly, but working out can become mentally draining and discouraging. This is a big problem when one of the most important aspects of beginning a fitness journey is consistency.
You have to learn to enjoy the process. If you lose your motivation before you even start, you will never achieve your goal.
Also, if you are not ready for that level of difficulty, injury can occur. This can set you back or cause you to quit altogether. Make sure to ease into any fitness journey. Start out focusing more on bodyweight exercises, smaller durations of cardio, and flexibility/mobility. Then, work your way into weighted exercises or longer durations of cardio.
Mistake #2: Not working on flexibility and mobility
This is another big mistake. Flexibility is the ability of the muscles to stretch, while mobility incorporates everything that affects the joints’ mechanics and range of motion. I know it doesn’t seem like stretching and doing mobility exercises will help you lose weight or help you gain muscle, but they contribute to the longevity of training, which should be an important part of any person’s fitness goal.
Again, consistency is key. If you can’t properly get into a position or hold correct form without any weight, you sure can’t do it with weight. If you have some form of tightness causing you to compensate during each step of your run, this will lead to improper mechanics and eventually injury. A proper warm up and intelligently incorporated flexibility and mobility work are necessary for any fitness plan.
Mistake #3: Changing your diet too much, too fast
When it comes to nutrition, people usually make the mistake of changing their diet too much, too fast. They tend to cut too many calories when trying to lose weight, or add too many if they are trying to gain muscle. A better way would be to find out how many calories you are eating right now and track your weight. Find a calorie amount where your weight stays relatively consistent. Once you find a calorie level where your weight stays consistent, substitute healthier choices for any junk food or processed food. Make a gradual transition. You want it to be something sustainable.
Just as you don’t want to start working out too hard, you don’t want to eat in a way that’s not possible to maintain. Once you have transitioned out the unhealthy foods, you can then start changing the amount, whether that be increasing or decreasing calories.
Mistake #4: Making sweating and soreness your main goal
Finally, sweating and feeling sore should not be the main goal. You can add muscle without being sore. You can burn calories without being drenched in sweat. The main goals should be holding correct form, staying healthy, and progressing a little each week.
There are so many ways to be active. Cardio has many forms and there are millions of resistance training programs out there. You have to pick something you enjoy. If you find enjoyment in your workouts, you will be more likely to stick with it and see long-term results.
It’s all about safety, longevity, and consistency. Make your workout routine a progression, don’t kill yourself the first week. Incorporate proper warm-ups, flexibility, and mobility work to ensure a long and healthy fitness journey. Make small changes over a period of time in your diet to create a sustainable eating habit. Learn to enjoy the fitness process. I promise you’ll like the results! I hope these tips help lead you to an exciting and successful entrance into the fitness lifestyle.