Dr. Phil Shares: How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

Designer water bottles. Pre- and post-workout supplements. Two-hundred-dollar shoes!

When you’re new to exercise, sometimes the hardest part isn’t the workout itself—it’s all the details around it. So many ways to go astray.

That’s why we asked six fitness and nutrition experts for their tips to avoid some of the most common workout mistakes. From what you should be eating before a workout to what you should be wearing, dodging these fitness fails won’t just make you look like a pro, it’ll make your workout routine more effective, too.

1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes

“There are different shoe types for a reason. Tennis demands a lot of side-to-side movement, running on a trail requires [enhanced stability and grip], and you’ll probably be doing some vertical jumping when you play basketball. If you’re wearing training shoes with little to no support when you’re running around a tennis court, you’re more likely to get an injury in your foot or ankle. Getting the right type of shoe for your sport will help you stay with it for much longer.”Alicia Clinton, Ohio-based ACE personal trainer and Pilates instructor

2. Wearing the Wrong Clothes

This tip is my own, as it’s one workout mistake I learned the hard way. Wearing baggy cotton T-shirts and sweats seems like a great idea (you get to hide your body, and hey, they’re comfy!), but there’s a reason everyone else in yoga class is wearing technical fabrics: cotton holds sweat close to your body. Technical fabrics wick it away.

You don’t have to buy anything that’s form-fitting or expensive, but wearing clothes made from technical fabrics engineered for exercise instead of pajamas or old sweats will help you be more comfortable. And, if you feel good, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout routine.

3. Pushing Your Body Past It’s Limits

This one sounds like a big “duh,” but it’s surprising how many people get into a gym for the first time in months (or years) and attack the cardio machines or weight rack like their hiatus never happened

Take a knee, champ.

“When you’re just beginning a workout routine, it’s important to know that your body needs time to adjust to your new activity level. With time, our bodies can become quite well-adapted (to any routine), but the key for long-term success—physically and mentally—is to start small and work toward your goal. Injuries can happen if you go all out right away, which in turn can lead to feelings of frustration that don’t help your cause.” —Clinton

4. Not Hydrating Properly

Everyone knows they’re supposed to stay hydrated. But a lot of people don’t know how to do it right.

A good way to gauge how much water you need is by weighing yourself. Check your weight before and after you work out, and replace that loss. So if you weighed 150 before you started your CORE DE FORCE workout, and you weigh 149 afterwards, drink 16 ounces of water. For endurance athletes or during extreme exercise of 30 minutes or more when you’re sweating a lot, use that same fluid requirement but include electrolytes—the best is a low-sugar option like Beachbody Hydrate.

“If you’re doing something like a 30-minute walk, you don’t need any of this. If you go on a 30-minute run [or do an intense 30-minute workout], you might need that extra hydration. And if you’re taking a 105-degree hot yoga class, you need to replenish fluids and electrolytes.” Paige Benté, MS, RD, nutrition manager at Beachbody

5. Not Timing Your Workouts with Your Eating Habits

Would you take your car out on a long road trip without first filling up the tank? Of course you would! That’s why you have to bum everybody out 20 minutes after leaving by pulling over to stop at Gas-N-Cigs. In the gym, this is just as big of a choke.

“You want to make sure you have enough fuel to support your workout. At least an hour before, have a small snack with easy-to-digest carbs. When in doubt, reach for a piece of fruit or veggies and hummus—something that will sit light in your stomach.” Olivia Wagner, Chicago-based RDN, LDN, personal trainer and certified health coach

And don’t forget to eat after your workout, too. You need to give your muscles the nutrients they need to grow and repair, and if you’re doing endurance work, you also need to replenish your glycogen stores.

How to Avoid 10 of the Most Common Workout Mistakes

6. Ignoring the Importance of Diet in General

You’ve likely heard the adage “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s true, so heed the advice to avoid one of the most common workout mistakes. If your eating habits aren’t aligned with your fitness goals, you’ll never hit them. Step one in upgrading your diet is to reduce your consumption of added sugar (according to the government’s new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, such foods should comprise no more than 10 percent of your diet).

“Many active people eat too many carbs—especially simple carbs like sugar—and don’t pay nearly enough attention to fat and protein. Make sure every meal contains a balance of protein, fat, and fiber. Neglecting these suggestions will yield poor blood sugar control, higher insulin levels, increased fat storage, and decreased fat burning.”- Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., CSSD, C.S.C.S., a sport dietitian and owner and founder of eNRG Performance

Want to make things easy on yourself? Beachbody’s Portion Fix containers make it simple to figure out how much you should eat of different food types, helping you to consume just the right amount of protein, veggies, carbs, and more, depending on your body type and goals.

7. Only Focusing on the Muscles You Can See

In the pursuit of head turning muscles, many people focus only on those they can see in the mirror—pecs, shoulders, arms, and abs. Since most people are already “anterior dominant”—meaning they more frequently use the muscles on the front of their bodies—such one-sided training often worsens existing postural and performance issues.

“Overemphasizing the front side of your body can lead to muscular imbalances, a hunched posture, and an increased risk of injury.” – Yunus Barisik, C.S.C.S., author of the blog, Next Level Athletics

To balance your upper body, perform two pulling exercises (chin-up, row) for every pushing exercise, such as the overhead press or bench press. To balance your lower body, perform two sets of hamstring-dominant exercises, like the deadlift or kettlebell swing, for every set of a quad-dominant exercise, like the squat or lunge. After a few months (read: once your posture and musculature balance out), you can switch to one-to-one ratios, says Barisik.

8. Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool-Down

It’s great that you’re excited to get to your workout, but a warm-up shouldn’t be optional. Before you jump into beast mode, take a few minutes to get your body ready for an intense workout with an active warm-up that includes dynamic (movement based) stretching, which can help improve performance and prevent injury.

Once you finish the final rep at the end of your workout, cool down with a few minutes of stretching, foam rolling, or both. “Warming up before a workout will help your muscles be ready to work harder and faster, and getting stretches in after a workout as you cool down will help accelerate recovery.” — Clinton

9. Skipping Recovery Days

If you think recovery days are only for the weak, think again. They’re actually a crucial part any fitness regime.

“Our bodies, like our minds, need rest. Just like we go to sleep every night, we need time to relax our bodies. Exercise is stressful, and if we don’t allow ourselves to recover—no matter how well we’re eating or exercising—we’re not going to get stronger.” —Wagner

“Muscles don’t grow during workouts, they grow between them. That’s one of the primary reasons why recovery days are just as important as workout days–the latter provides the stimulus for growth, and the former provides the opportunity for it to happen. Also, if you never give your body sufficient time to recover, not only will your workout performance suffer, but you’ll also shortchange your results and increase your odds of injury.” – Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S, senior fitness and nutrition content manager at Beachbody

10. Doing the Same Workout All the Time

After searching tirelessly for a mode of exercise you actually enjoy, it can be a relief to finally find the right one. But beware! Comfort can be the enemy of progress. Doing the same exact workout all the time, whether that’s running the same route at the same pace or always going to the same yoga class, doesn’t give your body the variety it needs to change and improve. You need to incorporate periodization (strategic variation) into your training plan to keep your results coming.

“The reason why most people see their results stagnate is that they do the same one or two workouts day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. That’s why Beachbody programs include multiple different workouts, and don’t last longer than 90 minutes.” – Thieme

In search of a workout that can help you reach your goals and lead to your dream results? Head over to Beachbody On Demand for tons of options, including everything from sweat-inducing HIIT workouts to low-impact yoga classes to muscle-building strength programs.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

8 Tips for a Healthy, Active Spring

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After the winter chill is gone it’s nice to go for a walk without having to navigate snow banks, salt, or sleet. Everyone can benefit from taking advantage of the more healthful opportunities afforded, but the trick is to not overdo it. Getting your body used to a more active lifestyle takes some conditioning and common sense. Keep these tips in mind when you head out the door.

Use heat therapy to soothe muscles before and after exercise

Most people know that a heating pad or warm bath after a workout or slight injury can make a significant difference in terms of pain reduction and comfort. What is not so well known is that heat can play a preventative role, too.

  1. Applying heat before a workout session can minimize muscle strain. A study compared pain felt by exercisers who applied a heat wrap to their lower back before their workout session with those who did not. That treatment group rated their post-exercise pain as about 50% less intense as the group that only did stretching. Using commercial heat wrap products available in drugstores may be able to keep you comfortable and get you back to action sooner.
  2. Heat therapy calms muscles and prevents cramping. After a workout, muscles and joints are potentially dehydrated and, because they are attenuated (weakened), not as stable as when they have been resting. Applying a heating pad or wrap for 10 minutes or so while seated or lying down after a workout session or strenuous activity like spring cleaning can help muscles calm down and return to their normal state without seizing up.

Learn more about preventative heat therapy in Heat Wrap Therapy Can Reduce Post-Exercise Low Back Pain.

Stretch to release stiff joints and prevent injury

Whether it’s golf, tennis, gardening, or just walking, stretching is one way to keep you in action longer. Similar to heat therapy, a stretching session of five minutes both before and after physical activity can pay big dividends by keeping you healthy and preserving your motivation to stay active.

  1. Focus on the big muscles first. The quadriceps and hamstrings in your thighs are generally the largest muscles of the body and deserve special attention. That means stretching the back, front, and inner and outer thigh. It may seem a bit much, but you can’t really move without them so it’s worth the effort, particularly because they play a key supporting role for your back.
  2. Stretch the whole body. One approach to stretching is to concentrate on these muscles first, and then work up through the back, arms, and neck, and then down through the calf and ankle.

See Hamstring Stretches for a guide to treating this muscle well, and Sports Injuries and Back Pain for additional stretching tips.

Don’t shortchange your sleep

It can be difficult to adjust to the longer days of springtime, particularly with abrupt daylight savings adjustments. Sleep deprivation and insomnia are major causes of on-the-job injury, as well as other health problems since a tired body is a weakened body. How can you get the shut-eye you need?

  1. Have a sleep routine. Your body responds to routine on both conscious and unconscious levels. Going to bed at the same time, for instance, and only using the bedroom at nighttime can help switch your mindset into ‘sleep mode’.
  2. Make food and drink work for, not against, sleep. Sometimes it seems like there is a coffee shop on every corner. Caffeine has even been injected into bottled water. Moderation is the key, and most doctors recommend eliminating caffeinated drinks after lunch, assuming you turn in around 10 p.m. Java in the morning is OK. Have coffee in the evening and you may be in for a long night of counting sheep.

For more on sleep, consider these 11 Unconventional Sleep Tips.

Move away from your desk, couch, car or gardening stool

It’s all too easy to focus on a task only to look up and realize that you have been in essentially the same position for two hours. Your neck, your back, your arms—they all ache. Sitting too long in one position slows down blood flow to both appendages and your brain, so move them—because they are designed to move.

  1. Set a reminder to move every 20 to 30 minutes. Use your cell phone or watch to set an alarm. That will be your signal to get up and walk around the house or office, or fold a load of laundry, or take out the trash. It doesn’t matter what you do, really, only that you change position and use the major limbs in a different way.
  2. Do stretches at your table or in your cube. Maybe you don’t have the luxury of taking a little walk. No matter. Simply standing up and reaching your hands over your head and then trying to touch your toes may be enough to activate the blood flow.

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