By Isabella Broggini
1. Doing loads of steady-state cardio (and that’s it)
Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash
A myth surrounding weight loss is that if you want to lose fat, then doing loads of cardio is the fastest way of achieving it. However, running on the treadmill 5 times a week for 40 minutes is not actually going to get you the fabulous body that you’ve always wanted. Although doing cardio for an extended period of time may burn a fair amount of calories, there are ways to train more effectively and efficiently for weight loss. When working on shedding fat, exercisers should not forget the fat-blasting benefits of weightlifting. Including weightlifting into your routine will help you build muscle, and having more muscle mass will increase the number of calories you burn at rest. When incorporating cardio exercises into your weight-loss fitness regimen, I would encourage you to switch up your routine by adding high intensity, short duration cardio workouts. Occasionally swapping out slow-and-steady cardio for high-intensity and short-duration cardio will allow you to burn the same amount of calories (or more) in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, when engaging in high intensity, short-duration cardio, your metabolic rate (i.e. the number of calories your body burns at rest) will actually increase for hours after you have finished your workout.
2. Not lifting heavy for fear of “bulking”
Photo by Shaq Photography
There are many amazing benefits that come from weightlifting, however, to reap these benefits you need to get over your fear of “bulking.” As a personal trainer, I have experienced many clients (especially women) worrying that by lifting more than 10 lbs they will grow enormous muscles and end up looking “masculine”; this simply isn’t true. When it comes to building muscle, our body relies on testosterone and the human growth hormone. As women, we generally have 15 to 20% less testosterone than men, and therefore we CANNOT biologically build muscles as big as men’s. Heavy lifting has numerous benefits; including increased bone density, increased overall strength, and a noticeable improvement in body composition. Don’t let your fear of “bulking” keep you from experiencing the amazing results of a heavy lifting regimen!
3. Always doing the same workout
When we get into the habit of doing the same workout every time we’re at the gym, it isn’t easy to break it. We feel comfortable doing a specific type of exercise (such as 40 minutes on the elliptical) and we don’t want to try a new one for fear of appearing inexperienced. But doing only one type of exercise can halt your fitness progress all together; eventually, your body will get used to this form of exercise and it will no longer have to use as much energy to complete it (i.e. you won’t burn as many calories from the exercise as you once did). This phenomenon is called the S.A.I.D. principle (i.e. Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). According to the S.A.I.D. principle, we need to vary our exercise selection so that our body is continuously challenged and continuously forced to adapt to something new. So next time you hit the gym, instead of sticking to your usual routine try a new group fitness class or this 30-minute workout to build muscle and endurance!
4.Skipping the warmup
When we’re pressed for time, it is tempting to skip any type of warmup and just head straight into the main portion of our workout; but this can actually hinder our performance. Warming up before exercise is essential to ensure that your muscles will work effectively in the main portion of your workout. Warming up allows us to gradually increase our heart rate and blood circulation, loosening joints and increasing blood flow to muscles, which is crucial to prevent injuries during a workout. If you’re warming up before a weightlifting session, you should prepare for the lifts that you are planning on doing by mimicking these same movements in your warm up at a lower intensity. For example, if you’re planning on doing barbell back squats, use your warmup to prepare for this lift by doing bodyweight squats. Looking to develop a new warm-up routine? Check out these 4 tips to get started.
5.Resting too long between sets
The invention of smartphones has made it harder for us to concentrate on the task at hand. But constantly checking our phones between each exercise at the gym can make workouts a lot less effective. Keeping your heart rate up during a workout will allow you to burn more calories, but if you keep taking long breaks to check your phone between sets it will take you a lot longer to reach your fitness goal (especially if your goal is weight loss). Unless you are doing some serious powerlifting, you typically shouldn’t be resting for more than two minutes between sets. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re working out at a higher intensity, you should take longer rest periods between each bout of exercise. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are working out at a lower intensity you should shorten the time that you rest between each set. A heart rate monitor is a great tool to use in monitoring your cardiovascular fitness during exercise. This fitness gadget will allow you to see how long it takes for your heart rate to recover after each bout of exercise, helping you determine more precisely the amount of time that you should be resting between sets.
6.Measuring your progress based on the number on your scale
One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make when starting a fitness regimen, is to determine their progress solely based on whether or not they are losing weight. Although weight is a factor to consider in determining the health of an individual, monitoring body composition is a lot more important. As a personal trainer, I have witnessed clients often getting discouraged because of numbers not budging on the scale after weeks of rigorous training. At this point, I would explain to my clients that although it was clear from their circumference measurements that they had lost body fat, the scale did not showcase this because they had increased their muscle mass. Because a regular scale does not distinguish between weight derived from body fat and weight derived from muscle mass, using an InBody scale or taking circumference measurements is a more effective way of tracking your progress. Need a simpler way to track your progress? Just look in the mirror: if you like what you see, then you’re likely on the right track!