There are so many fitness myths out there that many of us not lucky enough to work with a personal trainer on a regular basis often get fitness anxiety over whether our workout routine is the most time-efficient and effective – not to mention safe. Did you know that stretching before working out can actually do more damage than good? Did you know that watching TV while exercising can sometimes be bad for body alignment? To gain insight into all of this and more, we spoke to some of the most acclaimed fitness experts and studio owners and asked them about the most common fitness mistakes they see.
Fred DeVito Co-Founder of Exhale and Co-Creator of the Core Fusion Program: Cardio Mistakes and Joint Abuse
Too much cardio
There is a myth in the fitness industry that if you don’t do cardio, you will put on weight. Because of this phobia, would-be athletes flock to the cardio machines, jogging paths, and spinning studios to burn those unwanted calories. Granted, you do burn a whole bunch of calories when you are doing the activity, but what happens the other 23 hours of the day? Is cardio exercising the best way to increase your overall or resting metabolic rate (RMR)? The answers are 'not much' and 'no'. The way to control body weight and body fat percentage is to do strength training exercises over time. With consistency, perseverance, and patience you will raise your RMR within a few months and then you will have a muscular furnace. To build muscular density is a technique, which defies the aging process by the way, and you will then have the engines (muscles) in your body to burn twice the amount of calories in a day then you would with just an hour of cardio exercise.
These days, joint replacement surgeries are very common. If you are in the movement arena, you probably know at least one person who has had knee or hip replacement surgery. When muscles are damaged or overused, they can’t repair and rejuvenate themselves due to a large supply of blood and nutrients that are not available in joints. When there is cartilage loss in a hip joint and you experience bone on bone, there is not much else you can do except replace the joint. That being said, people who choose exercise that abuses or pounds their joints such as jogging or any high impact type of sport are risking joint problems down the road. Take it from me, because I am one of them. As a distance runner in college back in the late 70s, I am now a bone on bone, arthritic, hip replacement candidate 30 years later. Thank goodness for Core Fusion exercises and weekly acupuncture and Thai Therapy sessions at Exhale to keep me out of surgery.
Confusing exercise with sport
Often, when I speak with Core Fusion students before class and ask them what other forms of exercise they partake in, they’ll say that they play tennis or golf. I then make a distinction for them: Sport is your game…exercise is what you do to prepare for and recover from your game. When people look at exercise as competition, they will sacrifice form and proper technique for going faster and doing more. Sports are definitely more fun than exercise, but without exercise, your sport can lead to a muscle strain or overuse injury which will land you on a Physical Therapist's table.
RuthZukerman, Co-Founder of Flywheel Sports: Mistakes Made by Spinners
Not following the instructor
An experienced instructor has a deliberately planned ride combining climbs, sprints, and intervals offering a balanced, thorough, and efficient workout.
Using too little resistance
Some riders are under the false impression that resistance builds bulky muscles. It is the use of resistance that efficiently burns calories and leads to weight loss. The amount of time spent on higher resistance levels is not enough to build bulk.
Taking too many breaks during class
Ideally, one should hydrate while riding. With a typical class lasting 45 minutes, the rider needs every minute for an effective workout.
Giving into distraction too easily
It’s focus that separates the occasional exerciser from a true athlete. The stronger the focus, the more effective the ride.
Leaving class before the stretch/cool down
Too often we are rushing and not allowing the time for our heart rates to come down and muscles to stretch. Riders tend to get addicted to indoor cycling and come an average of 5 times per week. Using the same muscles repetitively will cause tightness which points to the importance of the stretch/cool down period at the end of class.
Loi Jordon, Elite New York City Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer: Avoid Over-training and Plateaus
Thinking more is more
There is such a thing as too much exercising. When you work out too much and don't take off the necessary 1-2 days a week, you're not giving your body and muscles the adequate time for rest and recovery. Your body needs the downtime to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. This leads to over-training, which actually decreases performance and leads to increased muscle injury. A good rule of thumb is for every 2-3 days you workout, you should take one day off.
Not changing your exercise routine
Your body is super efficient and adapts extremely quickly to your workouts which is why you need to change, change, change what you do and how you do it. I always teach a different class so that we are maximizing your body's ability to get results. You want to "surprise" your body in each workout session to avoid plateaus and boredom. Try new classes and workouts. Mix it up!
Thinking it's only about exercise
Exercise goes hand in hand with making healthy eating choices. You will not be able to optimize the results you get at the gym if you have terrible eating habits. A good place to start is to eliminate processed foods, sugar, soda, and caffeine from your diet. It takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose one single pound. For example, if you're a runner, you would have to run 35 miles (average 100/mile calorie bun) to lose one pound. At an average pace of 10 miles an hour, it would take you almost 6 hours to lose a pound! But, if you were to eliminate the 500 calorie bagel that you eat everyday from your diet, you can see how much easier that is than to run 6 hours. Ideally, it's the combination of making healthy eating choices with an effective exercise program that will yield the best results!
The only way to get optimal results is if you are performing the exercises correctly. Bad form is an invitation to injuries as well. This means lifting an appropriate size weight where you can perform at least 12 reps with perfect execution. SLOW down your reps as well. You have to perform each rep using full range of motion and without the aid of momentum. Also, no leaning or holding on to the treadmill or elliptical machines. This decreases your cardio burn and more importantly has a negative impact on posture.
Watching TV, reading and talking on the phone while exercising
If you can talk on your cell phone, read, and/or watch TV and exercise, then you are definitely not working out hard enough. Better to put your iPod on, as research indicates that music will motivate you more and make you work harder. Also many TVs are mounted at an angle that causes you to have to take your head and neck out of neutral alignment. Learn that when you are working out, it is "me" time and shut off the gadgets. It is also simply rude to be blabbing away on your cell at the gym.
Not warming up
The warm-up prepares the body for exercise by slowly and gradually elevating muscle temperature and heart rate. A proper warm-up also "rehearses" the moves and activities that will happen in the workout. It is super important for optimal performance that your body goes through the proper preparatory sequence before it's ready to go.
Stretching before exercising
You should not do any static stretching before working out. Stretching "cold" muscle can lead to muscle injury and decreases the efficiency of your workouts. Stretching is meant to improve flexibility and should be done at the very end of your workout session, after the cool down and when your muscles are warm.