As you focus on your body composition goals, it’s important to avoid common training mistakes that can set you back.
The approach of holiday parties, a wedding or bikini weather are often wonderful motivators to get people up, off the couch and more disciplined with their nutrition plan. However, quite often the feeling that the clock is ticking will make people start to cut corners with both their diet and training regimen. Quick fixes may seem like a good idea when you are short on time and want to see changes, but in the long term, cutting corners will set you back with your goals and negatively impact your health.
Here are a few common mistakes that you can avoid with suggestions on what you can do instead.
Avoid single body part challenges: I see these types of challenges online all the time, but unfortunately, many will have you overworking one specific muscle group that puts you at a high risk of injury. Doing squats every day is bad for your hips and knee joints. Doing sit-ups every day means that you stop using the muscle fibers in your abs and instead start using your lower back, which creates imbalances. Doing push-ups every day can cause micro tears in the shoulder complex. I can list many more examples that are a bad idea for your long-term muscle and joint health. I believe it’s best to avoid a challenge that focuses on one specific part of the body.
Do: Participate in fun challenges that involve multiple exercises and are set with a moderate number of repetitions and adequate rest. In order for your body to get the benefits associated with repetitive exercise, the reps and rest time must be taken into consideration and make sense. Most of our muscles work in pairs and, therefore, all strength training should be balanced. If you’re trying to add more exercise into your day, consider doing a short body weight circuit. On one day the focus can be lower body, and the next day upper body. Try to avoid overusing one specific muscle group on a daily basis.
Avoid lengthy gym sessions: Training in the gym for hours on end may not get you better results, because more is not always better. Spending an hour on the treadmill at a pace that is not challenging, or lifting incredibly lightweights for long amounts of time, will have little effect on your fitness level or overall strength. This adds stress caused by devoting so much time at the gym and gets little in the way of results.
Do: Go to the gym with the approach of quality over quantity. Think about what your goal is and train specifically in a way that will encourage desired adaptation in the body. If gaining strength and building muscle is your goal, you must choose weights that challenge you. Choose a weight that you can lift 8-12 times before reaching fatigue. Rest, then repeat for 3 sets. Consider doing HIIT training for a cardio and strength combination, or work in a circuit to maximize your time in the gym.
Don’t crash diet: The approach of special events brings light to the many crazy crash diets that deprive your body of essential nutrients. Drastically cutting your calories, especially as you start to exercise more, can make you feel tired and prevent you from training at your best. The weight that is lost from a deprivation style crash diet is often not sustainable long-term, because you can lose lean muscle mass in addition to fat.
Do: Start making more conscious and healthy choices, and control your portion size. The goal should be to provide your body with the right balance of nutrients to support your energy output and recovery needs. As your exercise duration or intensity increases, make sure that you are eating enough protein, consuming enough water and getting a good balance of carbohydrates to get the most out of your training sessions.
Getting in shape is a process, one that takes both time and dedication. Quick fixes often don’t last for long, and my favorite saying is, “Get fit and healthy for a lifetime, not just for the six weeks of summer.” When you make living healthily a part of your everyday lifestyle, reaching your goals may take a little longer, but the results will last.