Have you ever felt like you’re spinning your wheels and not making any progress? You’ve probably made one of these common fitness mistakes. Even the most dedicated exercisers fall victim to these pitfalls from time to time. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new workout or feel pressured by friends who are more athletic than we are. But it’s also much easier to avoid these roadblocks if you know what they look like.
All of us make mistakes from time to time, especially when it comes to our workouts and nutrition. Listed below are some of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to become more fit and healthy, as well as some tips on how to avoid them moving forward.
Cardio Is Your Enemy
A common fitness mistake is spending too much time on cardio, and not enough time on strength training. This is because when you lift weights, you build muscle. And when you build muscle, you burn more calories, even when you’re just sitting around. When it comes to cardio, however, all you’re doing is burning calories while you’re working out. Once you finish your session, your body quickly goes right back to burning the same number of calories it was before.
The worst part about all this is that, if you only do cardio, you’re burning away calories and muscle that would otherwise help you burn more calories in the future. If you want to kickstart your fitness journey or take it to the next level, strength training is the way to go. It’s the best way to build muscle, which will help you burn more calories every day, even when you’re not at the gym.
Jumping on the Scale to Measure Progress
There’s an endless list of fitness mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight. For example, trying to track your weight loss purely by looking at the scale. Weighing yourself once a week or even once a month is a good baseline measurement, but it’s not the best way to track progress. Instead, take measurements of your body parts, like your waist, hips, or legs. You can also track your body fat percentage with a cheap body fat analyzer like this one.
As you track your progress with things other than the scale, the number on it will slowly become less important to you. Your weight can fluctuate based on several factors, including how much you hydrate yourself, what you eat, and even where you are in your menstrual cycle. Steering clear of the scale and paying attention to other, more accurate, methods of tracking your progress will help keep you from getting discouraged when the numbers don’t go your way.
You’re Constantly Tracking Your Calories
In addition to tracking your calories, you should also be paying attention to your macronutrients, or the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you’re eating. It can be easy to become obsessive about your diet, however, and paying too much attention to these numbers can do more harm than good. If you’re constantly tracking your calories, you might begin to feel deprived, which will make it difficult to stick to your diet in the long run.
When you’re trying to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit. That means consuming fewer calories than your body burns each day. But if you’re constantly keeping a close eye on your numbers, you may not be taking into account how many calories you’re burning during your workouts. Depending on how intense your workouts are, you may be burning a significant amount of calories that day, which might put you in a deficit anyway. Keeping track of your calories, but not getting too carried away with it, is a good way to track your progress while still allowing yourself to enjoy your meals.
You Only Train One Type of Muscle
If you only work out your arms or only work out your legs, you’re going to have a very one-dimensional body. It’s best to work out different parts of your body each time you hit the gym. If you only work out your upper body, for example, your lower body won’t get the same amount of benefits. Working out different muscle groups will help you grow more balanced and proportioned. It’s not even necessary to do different exercises for each muscle group.
You can do the same exercises for each body part, but just do more sets for the ones you want to emphasize. You could, for example, do a leg workout that targets your quads, hamstrings, and calves, then do an upper-body workout that focuses on your biceps, chest, and shoulders.
You’re Ignoring Strength Training
If you’re only doing cardio, it’s easy to neglect strength training entirely. But, for optimal health and fitness, you want to build and maintain muscle mass. While cardio will help you lose weight, strength training will help you maintain your muscle mass as you lose weight. This is especially important as you get older, the older you get, the less muscle mass you have.
Keeping your muscles strong and healthy is essential for everyday life. You use your muscles whenever you lift something, walk upstairs, or even just sit in a chair. Strength training is also better for your bones when compared to cardio. Your bones naturally become weaker as you age, and cardio places a lot of stress on them.
You’re Only Eating Protein
If you’re only consuming protein, you’re probably doing more harm than good. While protein is a very important macronutrient, it’s not the only one you need in your diet. With that said, protein is incredibly important for building and maintaining muscle. Every single day, your muscles are breaking down and being repaired. When you strength train, you’re breaking down more of your muscles than you’re repairing. When you eat protein, your body uses it to build new muscle. When you only consume protein, however, your body might not be able to get all the nutrients it needs to function properly. Additionally, protein alone is not very satisfying, which can make it difficult to stick to a diet focused solely on protein.
You’re Ignoring Nutrition
If you only pay attention to the number of calories you’re eating, and not the quality of those calories, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’ll have a much harder time losing weight and may even gain weight without meaning to if you ignore nutrition. Keep in mind that not all calories are created equal. There are certain types of foods that are more nutritious than others. You can get the same amount of calories from a candy bar, for example, as you would from a large banana.
The banana, however, is full of nutrients, and the candy bar is not. When trying to lose weight, or just be healthier, it’s important to pay attention to your nutrition as well as your calories. If you’re only looking at numbers on a scale or a calculator, you’re missing out on important nutrients that your body needs.
When it comes to fitness, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. You can get so focused on what your calorie intake should be, or which exercises you should focus on, that you forget to enjoy the journey. Fitness should be something you enjoy, and something that you do because you want to. When trying to make fitness a part of your lifestyle, keep these common mistakes in mind. If you realize you’re making any of these mistakes, don’t get discouraged. Instead, use it as an opportunity to reevaluate your fitness goals, and make changes moving forward.