So you've committed to a fitness plan. That's great, but in addition to just getting your butt into the gym (or a studio, or wherever you're currently able to get in your go-to routine) you'll also want to make sure you're making every moment really count. And unless you're an expert yourself, there's likely some common workout mistakes that might actually be holding you back from your fitness goals.
From lack of desired results to pain, there are a few different ways certain things you're doing could be sabotaging your workouts. And since not everyone is able to hire a personal trainer to keep an eye on them 24-7, you may not always know whether or not you're doing everything the most functional and effective way. Luckily some sage wisdom from the experts can help you analyze and reevaluate your current regimen so you can be sure you're performing to the best of your ability.
From the one thing you're probably missing during your post-workout/ recovery period to the piece of fitness equipment you should probably own, a few acclaimed trainers have weighed in on the major mistakes you might be making — plus how to avoid them. Find all their tips ahead.
Letting Bad Days Get You Off Track
According to Lacey Stone, celebrity trainer and creator of her own virtual training program, it's super common to be thrown off by one simple fail, like eating something that's not a part of your nutrition plan. But that shouldn't stop you from getting right back on track.
"It's OK to have one bad eating day," she explains. "It's not about what happens to you it's about how you respond to it. If you eat poorly then just double workout the next day and if you want to maintain your results eat super healthy for the next three days — three days of good clear the scorecard for one day of bad."
Assuming Longer Is Better
If common sense told you that working out longer means you've done more — you're in for a surprise. "Just because you workout longer doesn't mean it's a better workout," says Stone. "I suggest shorter workouts at a higher intensity."
You Don't Have The Right Gear
While Stone explains that you don't need a fancy gym to get the best workout, she believes there's one thing you definitely should be investing in: comfortable, properly fitted sneakers. "You need good shoes for when you workout," she says. "If you workout in old sneakers, of course, your knees are going to start to hurt."
You're Not Hydrated Enough
Stone also argues that a lack of adequate hydration could be holding you back from feeling your best and getting the results you're craving with your workouts — and trying to cram it all in while you're at the gym isn't the solution. "You don't just drink water during your workout to stay hydrated," she explains. "You should be drinking water all day long!"
You're Not Thinking Positively
Last but not least, Stone believes one of the most significant mistake people make is having a negative attitude — both in terms of their workouts and in general. "What you repeat in your head is just as toxic for your body as bad food," she says. "Be mindful about your thoughts; The cleaner your thoughts are the healthier your body will be."
Stressing Your Shoulders
Been going hard on the arm exercises but still not getting results? Plus maybe you've even got a pain in the neck after? According to personal trainer and health/wellness coach Amy Rosoff Davis, you might be putting too much of a strain on your shoulders. "Try pulling your shoulders away from your ears and slowing your exercises down so you can mindfully engage your arm muscles," she says. "Start with one-, two- or three- pound weights and extend through your fingertips when doing moves. Use low weight and high reps to tone and higher weight and less reps to build muscle."
You're Not (Properly) Engaging Your Core
Rosoff Davis argues that engaging your core isn't something you only need to think about while doing ab-focused moves — you want to keep it in mind throughout your entire workout. "Try pilates to help find your deep core muscles," she suggests. "If you stay consistent with building this strong base, before you know it you will you will stand taller and do everything with your abs always engaged."
You're Pushing Too Hard
Yes, it's important to know when to push (more on that ahead) but it's equally important to be aware of when you're trying to do too much. "People plow through exercises thinking the faster and heavier the better," says Rosoff Davis. "But many times they aren’t doing the moves correctly or focusing on form. Get back to basics. Lower the weight and slow down and focus on your form. Once you are doing things correctly you are more likely to get results!"
Your Posture Isn't Great
As the fitness duo behind Tone It Up, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott are well-versed on what to do — and not do — for a super effective workout. And according to them, posture is everything. "Think long neck and spine, chest up, and core engaged," the experts explain. "The stronger and more stable your foundation is, the better your results will be across the board — increased strength, reduced risk of injury, and a boost in confidence too!"
You're Not HIIT-ing It Hard Enough
As mentioned previously, there's a major difference between knowing when to slow things down, and when to rise to the occasion. Case in point, one of Scott and Dawn's favorite kind of workouts, high intensity interval training. And if you're doing a HIIT-focused routine (like the ones TIU offers on its app), the two suggest you don't skimp on the "intensity" aspect. "High-intensity interval training is one of our favorite ways to boost your metabolism, raise your heart rate, and tone your total body fast," they explain. "The key is making sure you're going hard during those work intervals! That's what gives you the amazing after-burn effect, which keeps your metabolism revving long after your sweat sesh ends."
Letting Gravity Get You Down
When it comes to weights, Scott and Dawn explain that it's just as important to focus on the down motion as it is the up. "When strength training, it's tempting to let gravity take over," they share. "Not so fast: The eccentric phase of the exercise (lowering the dumbbell in a bicep curl) is where the magic happens! By slowing down the motion you'll maximize your strength gains and really make those muscles pop!"