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Whether you love working out or constantly eye the clock when you are in the gym, we are pretty sure that you are guilty of some bad gym habits that no one ever bothered to correct.
Well, we are going to remedy that today. So read on because in today's article we will discuss some dangerous workout mistakes you should never commit if you want to achieve your fitness goals and not kill yourself while doing it!
And if you missed the previous article in this series on bad habits, you can read it right here.
Bad Habit #1: You work out for more than an hour.
Let's break down the "logic" behind this bad gym habit: If eating more causes you to put on more weight, by corollary, working out more should help you shed more. Right?
Doing low to moderate-intensity exercises for 1.5 hours is not going to help you lose any weight. At least, not for the next many months. That's because when it comes to working out, quality of the work out is always more important than the quantity of it.
Here's what you should do instead: If your workout routine consists of only cardio, then do it just for half an hour and go home. Too much cardio is bad for your heart. And the same applies to weight training.
In fact, when it comes to lifting weights, targetting specific groups of muscles on individual days is a better idea that working out everything and then limping to work the next day.
Bad Habit #2: You measure your progress based on how much you weigh on the scales.
"I am not fat. I am just on the wrong planet!"
If you didn't get that joke, here's what it means: Your weight is a measure of the Earth's gravitational pull. Therefore, if you had been on Mars (which is a much smaller planet compared to ours), you would have weighed almost one-fourth of what you weigh now!
Also, weighing machines don't measure how much fat you are packing inside. They measure everything combined - bones, muscles, organs, and even blood. So if you eat a lot of bad carbs and salt, your weight will be more than your health-conscious friend's (even if on the outside the two of you look similar). This is because carbs and salt increase the water content of your body, which contributes a lot towards your overall weight.
So don't measure your progress on the scales if your goal is to put on muscles and lose fat. Your weight will pretty much stay the same even after achieving your goal. Instead, get blood tests done before you start working out and then get them done again after 3 months to see the difference in your body's chemistry. Especially, your cholesterol level, vitamin D, and calcium levels.
Bad Habit #3: You don’t track your goals.
No one ever achieved anything in life without setting their sight on a distant goal first. The same applies to working out.
So if you want to lose weight, don't just say "I want to be fit!" and be done with it. Be more specific and say instead "I want to lose 10kg weight by the end of 90 days, and to do that I will do high-intensity cardio and weight training 20 minutes each at the gym 5 days every week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And if at the end of 90 days I have fulfilled my goals, I will buy myself a hoverboard."
A specific goal like the example above will help you track your progress and help you cross the finish line.
Bad Habit #4: You started lifting weights before you mastered your body weight.
If you have ever laughed at the extremely obese person struggling to walk on a treadmill next to you while you breezed through five miles on yours, then you really need to stop because while running or even walking may be extremely easy for you, for a person whose weight is disproportionately larger than their frame, the same exercise five times more difficult.
The same principle applies to weight training.
If you have not mastered lifting the weight of your body through simple body-weight exercises like squats, pushups, or even crunches before you try lifting weights, you will only end up injuring yourself.
Bad Habit #5: You don’t breathe between reps.
Whether it's a cardio routine, weight-lifting session, or a simple body-weight exercise plan, you need to breathe between your reps.
This is important because inadequate oxygenation can lead to dangerous muscle pain later (due to excessive lactic acid build-up) or even cause you to faint.
So breathe at a steady pace and keep going!
Bad Habit #6: You don’t know your limits.
If your gym-freak friend challenged you to do double sets of dumbbell rows on your first day of weight training, what would you do?
If you are like most people, you would accept the challenge and then regret doing it while your doctor places a cast around your shoulder.
Don't be that person.
Your body is yours. Not anyone else's. So what works for another may or may not work for you. So know your limits and exercise based on that.
That means if you are a beginner, stick to the easier routines before you move on to the harder ones. You will save yourself from injuries and also increase your productivity.
Bad Habit #7: You only do isolation exercises.
Isolation exercises are weight training routines that focus on a specific muscle in your body. Like the glutes, or the biceps, or the pectorals. And the only people who benefit from doing them are bodybuilders.
So skip the isolation exercises and focus, instead, on the compound exercises, like squats and pushups that activate multiple muscles groups at the same time and speed up the fat-burning processes in your body.
Bad Habit #8: You think you can develop abs by doing crunches alone.
This is a big misconception in the fitness world. That's why you will often see people doing hundreds of crunches every day at the gym with the hope that it will help them develop a visible 6-pack.
Unfortunately, crunches alone will not give you abs for three reasons.
Number one: Crunches only target the upper two abs and do not work out the entire strip of abdominal muscles. Therefore, if you want a 6-pack you need to mix it up and do a wide range of abdominal exercises, and not just crunches.
Number two: Abs are notoriously difficult to develop. Just like the calf muscles. That's why hundreds of low-intensity crunches are not enough to strengthen your core. You need to do high-intensity abdominal exercises for prolonged durations (i.e multiple sets) to start seeing visible hardening under the skin of your stomach.
Number three: You will never see the visible demarcation of a 6 or 8 pack (even if you can feel them under the skin) if the thin layer of fat over your abs does not go away. And the only way to do that is by fixing your diet.
Bad Habit #9: You focus only on your “trouble spots”.
Are you guilty of doing only gluteal exercises to firm up your behind? Or focusing just on the big tires of fat around your abdomen? Or maybe even targetting those sagging fat patches when you lift your arms?
I have some bad news for you: Focusing on these "trouble spots" are not going to make them disappear.
Your body will shed fat as per the complex processes going on within it and its unique requirements. Therefore, targetting specific areas of your body will not help you.
A better idea is to do full-body workouts consistently for many months to see some results.
Bad Habit #10: You ignore your body’s signs of stress.
Our society loves to hold up people who do not give up even when the harshest obstacles block their path. And while this attitude is great in high-stake situations, working out at the gym is not one of them.
In fact, only a fool keeps on exercising when their body is screaming at them to stop.
These obvious signs of gym fatigue include increased heart rate at rest, persistent muscle soreness, excessive thirst throughout the day, and difficulty in breaking past a plateau.
Bad Habit #11: You are not bothered about your landing.
Many exercises requires you to jump up in the air and then land on your two feet. Like the famous box jump. And if your feet make a lot of noise when they strike the floor, then you are definitely setting yourself up for an eventual injury.
Instead, try to land softly on your feet. And keep practicing even if you fail to accomplish this in the first few days or more. In time your muscles will learn to adjust themselves when you land, and you will need to activate less number of muscles to accomplish this feat.
Bad Habit #12: You only stick to upper body training and don’t care about the lower half.
People who have bulked up upper bodies and supermodel-thin legs look extremely comical. Let's not be that person!
So if you have been sticking to only upper body weight training, it's time to switch tactics and show your lower half some love too.
After all, a balanced body is more pleasing to look at!
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