They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We’ve all most likely heard this before and even agree. Yet, so many of us keep doing the same thing even though it isn’t working for us.
One area we are very likely to do this is when exercising. Here are the 4 mistakes I see most people making over and over.
USING MAINLY MACHINES WHEN TRAINING
Do you mostly use those big weight based or resistance machines that you find in big commercial gyms?
While they are great for certain populations – mainly those with mobility issues that need the guidance and safety factors that machines can (but not always) provide.
The problem is pretty much what makes them good for some people, but probably not you. Because they limit the range of motion and the balance and control part of the exercise, you get less out of doing the exercise itself.
One of the main benefits of using resistance is the way your body has to control, adapt, balance and manoeuvre the resistance, whether that resistance is a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell or your own bodyweight. When you use machines, a lot of that is taken away resulting in less muscle being used and therefore, lower returns for the time you’re spending exercising.
You can usually lift more weight when using machines, which is indicative of how machines make it easier. And when its easier, it is not providing the same benefits.
DOING TOO MUCH ‘CARDIO’
If I had a dollar for every time a client has told me they’re going to add running into their plan to help lose weight, I’d be rich. Well not quite, but honestly, it seems to be the go-to for someone who is not getting the results they are hoping for.
9.8 times out of 10, lack of cardio is NOT the issue. In fact, adding in too much ‘cardio’ type training such as running, cycling, swimming, jogging etc, will backfire causing a decrease in recovery and not allowing you to train with enough intensity at your other sessions.
Over time our bodies adapt to repetitive aerobic exercise, using oxygen and energy more efficiently, thereby hindering fat loss. Endurance cardio has also been linked to an increase in the body’s production of the “stress” hormone cortisol. Which if over time remains raised, can cause serotonin, thyroid function, growth hormone, testosterone and oestrogen levels to be disrupted.
Cardio or aerobic exercise can be added, but it needs to work in with what else you’re doing including other workouts, sleep quality and quantity, stress from other factors such as work, relationships, financial, workout recovery etc.
Simply adding more and more cardio will NOT work for most people
Does your gym program include lots of bicep curls, tricep exercises, leg extensions or curls and lateral raises? Thought so! Rest assured, the girl in the picture did NOT get that body by doing those curls!
In order to boost your metabolism, you need to spend the majority of your time doing exercises that use more muscle such as squats, lunges, rows, presses and burpees.
The fitter you are, the more easily you’ll lose excess body fat and keep it off. Isolation exercises may shape the muscles in those areas, but will do nothin to burn fat or increase fitness.
NOT GETTING FIT ENOUGH
The goal of a successful fitness program should be to increase fitness.
While your overall goals might be to lose body fat, tone your body or be able to run or cycle faster or lasts longer in your sport of choice, by increasing your overall fitness, all of these are achieved more easily.
A fitter body can do more (but not too much) effective exercise to produce fat loss and toning results.
A fitter body has more energy every single day. Whether that’s to keep up with your kids, be attentive and active at work or to play high level sport without excess fatigue on the weekends.
A fitter body finds it easier to maintain healthy body fat levels with a less restrictive diet. While healthy eating is still required, you have more leeway than someone who is less fit or not fit at all.
Often, if you’re training on your own most of the time, or you do the same routine or class over and over, your fitness is NOT increasing.
If your workout doesn’t get harder over time, you end up pretty much wasting your time as your body doesn’t need to adapt or get better – meaning NO RESULTS.
HOW TO FIX IT
Firstly, you need to concentrate mainly on exercises that use more muscle most of the time. A mix between higher repetition with lighter weights (note I said lighter, not light) or body weight with days or weeks of lower repetition work with heavier weights or more challenging body weight drills.
As an example, a beginner may do push ups on her knees and over time progress to doing them on her toes till eventually she can do them with her feet raised on a bench. This would be way more effective for muscle toning, fitness improvement and increases in metabolism that laying on a bench and using the pec-dec machine.
Likewise, you’ll get way better results by squatting with some resistance (or perhaps bodyweight for beginners) than sitting on a bench and ‘curling’ the weight or pressing it and using just your quadriceps. A squat will develop and tone all your leg and butt muscles as well as help with your balance and mobility.
Fitness improvements don’t even compare between a leg curl or press and actual squatting.
To improve overall fitness, you also need to do what I refer to as cardio training – no running required.
Using drills like burpees, mountain climbers, and combo’s of resistance drills (like squats, lunges, presses etc) will raise your heart rate quickly resulting in improved fitness if done regularly. Its much less time consuming than going for a run or jog and the results will be much better. Not only will you improve fitness, but you’ll also be improving the shape of you muscles, toning and getting stronger at the same time.
Remember, the fitter you are, the better your results.
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