4 exercise mistakes trainers often see — and how to fix them

It takes sweat and dedication to get fit, but these common exercise mistakes can ruin your efforts. Learn what to do instead.

When it comes to exercise, we may have the best intentions — but there are some things we may do that the experts say can sabotage our hard work or, worse, injure us.

Given how much time, dedication and sweat go into a typical training regimen, it is important to ensure our efforts do not go to waste.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid for safer, more effective workouts:

Exercise mistake #1: Skipping the warm-up

The enthusiasm to get into a workout is great, but it should not come at the expense of warming up, Nike trainer and Air Locker Training owner Megan Waters says.

“Whether you are training in a group fitness setting or on your own at a gym, or going for a run, start a little earlier so you can dedicate five minutes before every workout to focus on correct glute activation and core activation and also to get your heart rate up,” Megan, of Melbourne,  says.

Do those five minutes really make a difference to your training session?

Yes, according to Flow Athletic owner and director Ben Lucas.

“If you are not warm when you start your workout, you are likely to slip on your form, which can lead to injury and/or imbalance in the body,” Ben, who is based in Sydney, says.

What’s more, a review of studies published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2010 found warm-ups improved physical performance 79 per cent of the time.

Also end a workout with a cool-down, Megan says.

“This can aid with injury prevention (and) speeding up your recovery, and also reduces your chances of experiencing delayed-onset muscle soreness,” she says.

Exercise mistake #2: Exercising too much

Yes, it is totally possible to do too much exercise. More is not necessarily better.

Body Fit Training education services officer Prue Harvey says overtraining can cause

a plateau or decline in your performance and results.

“You are at a higher risk of injury and disturbed sleep and can become fatigued much easier,” Prue says.

Research published in the International Journal of Exercise Science in 2019 on men noted that 48 hours between sessions gave the body sufficient time to recover to optimise performance.

Megan says unless you are training for an elite sporting event, you should really only move your body four days a week intensely, whether it is strength training, conditioning or a run.

“You can still incorporate movement on the other days, but it doesn’t have to be intense training — try going for a walk or doing a yoga class instead,” Megan says.

Exercise mistake #3: Becoming too comfortable

Once you have mastered a particular workout, it is easy to get comfortable and have it on repeat.

However, this can result in hitting a plateau where workouts become too simple and your results do not improve.

“To progress, you may need to add weight, add distance or add reps,” Ben says.

“You want to keep building on what you were doing before to improve.”

That said, form is still paramount. You do not want to risk doing an exercise move incorrectly for the sake of making something harder.

“Don’t be afraid to strip the exercise back if you need to,” Ben says.

“You are better off doing it correctly, rather than progressing it before you are ready.”

Exercise mistake #4: Doing moves incorrectly

Prue says when we work out, we often do repetitive movements.

“How often will you go to the gym and do squats or push-ups? I bet you would do them in most strength sessions,” Prue says.

“Now imagine if you were doing these exercises incorrectly every time.

“Not only would you not be getting the full benefit of the exercise, but there is (also) a chance you are targeting those smaller muscles which stabilise and provide assistance, rather than those larger prime muscle groups that do all the heavy lifting for us.”

Over time, this may lead to injury or muscular imbalances, she explains.

There are plenty of resources that can show you step-by-step how to complete certain exercises, but Ben recommends booking into a small group fitness class or enlisting the help of a personal trainer.

If the budget does not allow for a trainer in the long term, you could book for just one session to learn how to complete common exercise moves such as squats and lunges.

A trainer can then take a look at your posture and make any necessary corrections.

“Some clients don’t know what an exercise should feel like and, therefore, it can be hard for them to correct themselves,” Ben notes.

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Written by Tania Gomez.