Do you want to know the Truth? The question is… Can you handle the Truth?
BY Joseph Palumbo, IFBB Pro
People often hide from the truth because, sometimes, it’s easier than it is to confront it. It’s easier to eat a bag of chips than it is to get on a scale and stare truth in the face. When it comes to training, there are “oversights” that can sabotage efforts to getting healthy. Yet, we often tell ourselves that it won’t really make much of a difference. The truth is, little mistakes can dramatically affect your fitness goals and your training progress.
Have you ever wondered why your progress in the gym is either slow (or none at all!). Little mistakes can have a dramatic effect on your workout. Here is a simple check list of common mistakes. Get your pen ready. If you’re guilty of even one of these mistakes, the correction can make a tremendous difference to your workouts, and the outcome is greater results.
MISTAKE- Failing to Plan your Goal
CORRECTION- Failing to plan is planning to fail. Set goals, but do not set unrealistic goals. It is imperative that you have a clear idea of what you want to receive from your training. Do not be impatient. Don’t give up or be too hard on yourself. Stay positive and be focused. If you’re thinking about joining a gym, take some time to look around. Make sure the gym has all the equipment necessary to achieve your fitness goals. Find a gym that offers a variety of fitness activities with staff that can assist you with your questions.
MISTAKE- Improper Form /Technique
CORRECTION- Strength training requires that you lift the weight slowly through the full range of motion to work the muscle correctly. Mastering the correct technique for every exercise performed is imperative. Do yourself a favor and buy an instructional book. Spend time watching demo videos. Many people find it beneficial to hire a qualified trainer to learn how to perform the exercises correctly. Respecting the integrity of the exercises will save you time, money and help prevent injuries. The better your technique/form, the more positive your results.
MISTAKE- Over Training
CORRECTION- Over training causes injuries, retards progress, and interferes with the neuromuscular system’s ability to recuperate. Repetitive over training will also lead to excessive muscle-tissue break down. This is known as a “catabolic state”, where the body breaking itself down for nutrients. This will leave you mentally and physically burned-out. Reevaluate your training fitness regimen. Remember: “quality is better than quantity.” Training is all about getting the appropriate type and amount of physical stress, followed by adequate rest to recover. It is in this necessary rest period where you recover and grow stronger. Constantly feeling fatigued can be a sign of the onset of over-training. If sufficient rest is not included in a training program, then regeneration cannot occur. Your performance will inevitably plateau and eventually decline.
MISTAKE- Neglecting to Warm-up
CORRECTION- Always take the necessary time to warm up your entire body before strenuous exercise. Pay special attention to the body part you are training. A warm up usually involves high rep, low intensity exercises. The purpose is to increase blood flow and body temperature of the involved muscles to promote flexibility and mobility. A proper warm up is the key to preparing tight muscles, ligaments and tendons. Without a sufficient warm up, you are inviting preventable injuries.
MISTAKE- Ignoring the Stretch
CORRECTION- Stretching is a great way to begin any fitness session. You quickly identify which areas are tight and which are limber. Stretching is different from a warm up. A stretch helps relax and elongate a muscle after warm up and before resistance training. The proper method of performing a stretch is to take your time and allow the muscles to lengthen gradually as you bend and reach. No bouncing or jerking! When stretching, relax and try for a maximum effort. Attempt to hold the point of full extension for a full 15-20 seconds. Warming up and stretching are the most commonly neglected parts of a training program. It is a big mistake to make. After warming up, you should stretch before, during, and after any physical activity.
CORRECTION- There are so many ways to cheat in the gym with resistance or cardiovascular training. When it comes to resistance training, a “cheat” is a technique known to professional athletes in the advanced stage of training that allows them to train beyond normal. This allows them to train past the point of failure.
Don’t confuse this with lazy short-cuts that will inevitably slow progress. Some people know they’re doing it without knowledge of its’ detrimental effects. Others don’t realize short-cuts, improper form/technique are cheats. A good example is seen in cardiovascular training. If you lean on a treadmill or stair master for support, you’re cutting down on the full benefits of the exercise. Placing your hands on the rails (other than receiving heart rate info) is a big cheat. To correct this safely, start at the beginning. Walk at a slower pace while swinging your arms naturally. Lower the incline and gradually increase to your desired pace without holding, resting, or leaning on the rails. The result will be more calories burned, better stamina, endurance, balance and quicker results.
MISTAKE- Poor Nutrition
CORRECTION- A nutritional diet is as much a part of a total fitness program as any exercise. What you eat will affect every aspect of your workout. Nutrition is one of the most over-looked parts of any type of physical training. In reality, it is one of the most important for achieving your goals. Your nutritional food intake should work hand-in-hand with your training. For example, weight training requires more protein for building, repairing, and toning muscle. For endurance and stamina, you must have sufficient amounts of carbohydrate. For endurance activity, use slow-burning carbs (complex) before, and fast-burning (simple) carbohydrates after. Typically, fat should be avoided pre-exercise unless the exercise is for endurance. The post-exercise meal should consist of carbohydrate, protein and perhaps a small amount of essential fats (ex. omega 3), in a form that is easily and quickly digestible. Refrain from junk food!
There are many meal replacement products that are a better choice. Pick the one that is suitable for your training regimen (and your pallet!). Last, but not least: WATER! There are many positive effects water has on the body from weight loss to general heath. Water is the most abundant nutrient in the body, so, just take my advice and consume plenty of water.
MISTAKE- Lack of Concentration
CORRECTION- When distracted, preoccupied and not focused during your training, you are inviting, boredom, sloppy form, and even burnout or injuries. Take a few moments and reevaluate your training strategy. Think about the specific results that you are trying to accomplish. Focus on the benefits that you are trying to achieve. Move to a different machine or exercise if necessary. This will help stimulate your concentration. When possible, find somebody to train with. A training partner can keep you focused and concentrated. Having a partner allows you to encourage each other resulting in more positive gains.
MISTAKE- Too “Stressed” to Train
CORRECTION- While everyone has a certain amount of stress in their lives, the body usually has enough coping strategies to deal with it. Occasionally, we are overcome by extraordinary stresses. Stress can dramatically affect your attitude, training, and sleep cycle. However, exercise and training can be used effectively to reduce stress levels. Therefore, they should not be used as an excuse to avoid training. Research has shown that physical exercise is an effective tension reliever. It is a very important remedy for stress. Nothing eases stress more than exercise. Use your training to provide an outlet for negative emotions such as frustration, anger, and irritability. The key is proper concentration and staying focused.
MISTAKE- Too Much Too Soon
CORRECTION- The phrase “no pain, no gain” should not be taken literally. It is a motivational term used by many professional athletes, but it does not apply to everyone. Being over-zealous can be harmful. Looking for unrealistic results overnight is discouraging, and typically leads to burn out. Do not bite off more them you can handle. Everything in moderation. Start out slowly and work your way up. Your body needs to adapt slowly both physically and mentally. This is especially true if your new to the fitness arena. You must have patience. Results will come, but the key is consistency.
All too often people start with good intentions when starting a fitness program. However, little mistakes often lead to disappointment and failure. Most people who exercise and do not achieve their pre-set goals, drop out. Many others continue exercising because they see results as they attain their goals. Hopefully, your body is going to be with you for a long time. Engaging in a fitness program regimen is one of the best possible things you can do for yourself. Receiving positive results will keep you motivated and on-track. Your time is limited and precious. By simply adhering to the basic rules of training and correcting simple mistakes, you save time, money, and frustration. It has become a major goal of mine to teach the importance of exercise. It’s your body and your mind. Give it the best resources and reap the rewards.
Have fun, be safe. ~Joe