FAIL: Being a Weekend Warrior We know work and family can limit gym time to Saturday and Sundays. But, if you only workout on weekends, you put yourself at a greater risk of injury. Often women will want to take advantage of the time they have and will go all-out on weekends after doing no exercise or training all week. This can contribute to shoulder, elbow and even back injuries that can worsen and progress over time.
FAIL: Reading While Doing Cardio Studies have found that listening to music while working out can inspire you to work harder. But reading requires more focus, which takes away from the intensity of your workout. Rarely can someone maintain sufficient intensity of cardiovascular activity -- even on a stationary cycle -- while reading. Long, slow cardio may be recommended for novices or for athletes working in a low-intensity phase of training that is before or after an event (such as a marathon) but if it's fat and calorie-burning you want, put down the book. You want to focus on your activity.
FAIL: Rushing Your Reps It’s tempting to try and get through your reps at lightening speed. But you'll get better results if you dial it down a bit. Referred to as "time under tension," the amount of time it takes for you to complete your repetitions plays a role in building "tone. Using momentum by speeding through your reps also increases your chances of injury and decreases effectiveness. For strength and tone, a two-second count on the concentric phase (contraction of the muscle) and a four to five second count for the eccentric (lengthening or stretching phase) of each move.
FAIL: Walking with Hand Weights If you're holding on to three to five pounds weights when you walk because you think it burns more calories, you may want to try picking up the pace instead. Walking with hand weights has been shown to increase cardiovascular demand in terms of blood pressure and oxygen consumption, but it's not yet determined if this translates to substantial calorie burning compared to not carrying the weights. Even if it does, you would have to walk long and fast for it to make a difference over time. If you're carrying weights to tone your arms as you walk, the amount of weight you're able to safely hold on to while walking is likely not causing enough resistance to result in a change in the muscle (e.g. toning).
FAIL: Bouncing When Stretching In an effort to get a better stretch, you may be tempted to "bounce" your way into a certain position. Problem is, this "ballistic stretching" tactic actually backfires. A complex mechanism within the muscle contains a built-in safety feature that detects the bouncing and reacts by contracting. It does this to protect the muscle from becoming overstretched. When you rapidly stretch the muscles by bouncing, the muscle spindles send a message to the spinal chord telling the muscle to tighten up. This then causes 'microtears' within the muscle itself. Too much bouncing may actually lead to torn muscles.
FAIL: Channeling Jane Fonda Remember big hair and leg warmers? If you do, you likely also remember aerobic class moves like the hydrants, leg lifts and side bends. Some are tried and true, others are potentially dangerous or, at best, useless. Many were based on the spot reduction theory, where women believe they can reduce a specific area on their body simply by working that muscle, which simply isn't true. Other moves are performed so fast they don't allow enough time under tension to produce strength results and may even be fast enough to injure the hip joint. Your best bet? Update your workout and leave the Flash Dance moves in the 80s.
FAIL: You Skip Your Warm Up and Cool Down. Saving time by skipping your warm up and cool down may leave you hurting. The purpose of the warm up is to get the core temperature up, to get blood flowing to the muscles, to lubricate joints and to get mentally prepared for your activity. The cool down helps your cardiovascular system and central nervous system regain homeostasis (its pre-exercise stable state), therefore preventing injury. If you don't have time to do a full-blown warm up, simply beginning your activity very slowly.
FAIL: You Have No Plan If your workout plan varies according to the available machines at the gym, you're not working out efficiently. An individual cannot jump from machine to machine each workout without considering safety, effectiveness and efficiency. Without a set routine the person may be focusing upon the same body part(s) without cross training other muscles. If you are winging it every time you go to the gym, you also probably don’t know the machines well enough to know what weight or seat/equipment height you need to achieve the most efficient and safe results. Take the time to cultivate and understand your routine. Consistency is key for setting and achieving goals and commitment.