A lot of people who work out at the gym have bad habits, even they themselves have no clue they are bad. They will go about their fitness training program every day without thinking anything of it.
These habits are not only bad habits, but they’re also bad choices that could affect long-term health. If you’re guilty of any one of these, it’s time to make a change.
Working Out on an Empty Stomach
The old theory used to be that you should train on an empty stomach in order to burn more fat. There are conflicting studies on whether this is true, but I believe that you should give your body fuel before you push it to the max.
In fact, your body needs some glucose (blood sugar) for fuel in addition to what it can use from fat stores when you’re working out. If you don’t have any blood sugar available, your body can eat it’s own muscle tissue to get glycogen for fuel once it runs out of available blood sugar or glycogen stores. Low blood sugar will also make you tired and sluggish and maybe even dizzy during your training session.
Most studies show that working out on an empty stomach will make you perform worse and keep you from having an intense workout. I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training; you will have more energy and endurance to work harder, burn more calories, and improve your muscle tone.
Try eating yogurt with berries, a banana, or spread a few tablespoons of natural almond butter on apple slices. These are quick, healthy snacks that will provide your body with the fuel it needs for a hard-core workout.
Skipping Your Stretches
This needs to be done before you start your workout. To warm up the right way, perform 5-10 minutes of cardio (jog, elliptical, stationary bike, jump rope or jumping jacks etc.), then some form of dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretching is basically stretching with motion, so your body gets a chance to warm up the muscles slowly and in a functional way. Think arm circles, leg swings and so on, but be sure not to bounce the stretch as you risk injury when you ballistic stretch.
Avoiding Strength Training
Don’t get me wrong, cardio is GREAT for your body. It gets your heart rate up, burns a lot of calories, and works a lot of muscles. But it’s not the most effective way to burn the MOST calories.
I strongly believe in high-intensity interval training. An interval circuit is a series of exercises performed one after the other (about four to five) with little or no rest in between. For example, if you’re doing push-ups, you’re incorporating your shoulders, triceps, chest, and abs, and then you can go straight from your push-up set into a set of lunges. You’ve changed the muscle groups you’re working, but you haven’t stopped exercising.
Then you add high-intensity training (HIIT) into the mix by throwing an intense cardio interval into your resistance-training circuits. For example, you add a minute of jumping rope, sprinting, or doing jumping jacks to jack up your heart rate and burn a whole lot of calories, and then you go back into the resistance-training sets. This way, you maximize BOTH your time and your calorie burn. When a set of these moves are done, you go back to the beginning and do them again before moving on to the next circuit.
A typical circuit-training workout will get your heart rate up and impact a variety of muscles — not just one body part. Then, you can constantly switch up your circuits to hit different areas of the body. Ladies, don’t be afraid to add free weights into your routine! I hate it when women are hesitant to use weights because they’re afraid of bulking up. Lifting weights is a critical way to boost your fat-burning potential and you won’t bulk up unless you are lifting EXTREMELY heavy weights and eating far more calories than you are burning. I recommend you start with a weight you can lift with good form for 12 to 16 repetitions.
Getting Stuck in a Fitness Training Rut
Often people have a routine that they do in the gym every time they go. This is bad for many reasons, most importantly of which your body will stop progressing. Your body adapts to the stimulus you subject it to. If you don’t constantly change up your workout then you cheat your body of opportunities to get more fit. Think about it, you haven’t trained in months and you do 20 squats. Well, the next day you’ll be sore, but if you do 20 squats for 10 days in a row, by day 10 you won’t be sore. That’s because your body has adapted to it.
So, make sure that you change your routine at least every two you weeks. Try changing the types of exercises you are doing and playing with the amount of sets, reps, and weights you are lifting. Also, try adding new classes to your regimen like a yoga, boxing, CrossFit, kettlebells etc. By training in different ways, your body becomes more efficient, well rounded, and less prone to injury. Break out of your comfort zone and try something new.