Real talk: You're only human, and making mistakes is a natural part of life—you live and you learn from them. Your time at the gym is absolutely no exception. We spoke with Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a member of our Medical Expert Board and a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, who breaks down five common fitness mistakes women make that destroy their progress so you can tweak your routine pronto.
Amid an always-busy schedule, your workout time is precious. That's why it's smart to plan out exactly what you want to do before you hit the gym, switch up your workouts throughout the week, and make sure to get sufficient rest between training sessions to give your body sufficient recovery time. What you focus on at the gym really depends on your personal fitness goals, such as losing weight, adding more muscle to your frame, boosting your cardiovascular health, increasing your flexibility, or working on balance and stability. But regardless of what you'd like to accomplish, it's crucial to pair your fitness routine with a healthy diet to ensure your body is totally fueled up during workouts and able to successfully heal itself after you wrap up.
Dr. Bohl walks us through five incredibly common fitness mistakes women make at the gym that destroy their progress. As previously stated, mistakes are a natural part of life, but these can totally be avoided to ensure your workout time is the absolute best and most productive as it can be. Keep reading to learn more, and when you're finished, be sure to check out the 5 Exercise Habits That Are Destroying Your Body After 50.
Using incorrect form
When you're exercising—specifically when working with added weights—it's crucial to use correct form. Working out while using improper form can totally ruin your progress and may even result in a serious injury.
"For every exercise, it's important to check the five kinetic chain checkpoints: feet about shoulder-width apart and facing forward, knees forward and not bent in or out, pelvis even and in a neutral position, shoulders held back and not elevated, and head looking forward and in a neutral position," Dr. Bohl explains.
An excellent trick you can do to check your form is filming yourself while doing certain exercises. You can then watch the clips later on to see where it's necessary to make improvements to your form.
Not fueling your body with proper nutrition
Exercise and diet go hand in hand. It can be challenging trying to determine what's best to eat around your workout time when sticking to a strict meal plan. "However, in general, it's important to eat carbohydrates before a workout to give your body the energy it needs and to eat protein throughout the day so the muscles can recover," Dr. Bohl explains.
Not introducing variety to your workout routine
Variety is truly the spice of life. This saying rings true when it comes to your fitness routine. A typical mistake is performing the same old workout whenever you hit up the gym. Doing so limits you from trying other beneficial exercises and machines, and it might not provide your body with sufficient recovery time between training sessions.
"To get around this, plan out your gym routine over the course of the week, and intend on doing a different activity each time," Dr. Bohl suggests. "For example, one day can be for core workouts, one day can be for arm workouts, one day can be for Pilates, etc."
Focusing on cardio first
Let's get one thing straight: Cardio is an effective form of training that's filled with a host of benefits. For instance, a solid cardiovascular workout such as swimming, cycling, rowing, running, or hiking can improve blood flow, decrease stress and boost your mood, promote a better night's sleep, and even help you lose weight, the Cleveland Clinic reports. But be forewarned about warming up with cardio, as it's one of the most common fitness mistakes women make that destroy their progress.
"Cardio may seem like a good way to warm up, but it also takes a lot of the body's energy, and if you're doing an intense cardio routine at the beginning of your workout, you may be too tired to get an effective weightlifting session in afterward," Dr. Bohl explains. Rather than focusing on cardio first, kick off your workout with weight lifting and wrap up your session with some cardio.
Not warming up
Warming up before each and every workout is the name of the game if you want to lower your chances of getting injured. Plus, dealing with an injury will only lengthen the amount of time you're unable to be at the gym and work toward your goals. "A good warm-up should include something to get the heart rate up (e.g., brisk walking) and dynamic stretching to get the muscles ready for movement," Dr. Bohl explains.