14 More Common Fitness Mistakes

We’ve already learned that lifestyle choices are as important as hitting the gym and that weight training is as important of a component to an exercise routine as cardio, but did you know that working out at a steady pace is not nearly as effective as interval training? Did you know that eating before a workout is crucial? Read on to find out why and more as we turn to some of the nation’s top trainers and ask them what common fitness mistakes they see in their respective studios.

Laurie Cole, SoulCycle Senior Master Instructor

Not eating before a workout

One of the most obvious yet routinely overlooked, and thus misunderstood, is eating for FUEL prior to any workout. The main purpose for fueling is to tap into one’s own optimal potential to burn fat and build muscle. If the body is in ‘starvation’ mode, it will immediately store all the fat and burn muscle first; ultimately, this defeats the efforts for even working out in the first place. Some great and light options prior to a workout are: hard boiled eggs, bananas, fruit/protein shakes, string cheese, and anything that can be easily digestible yet somewhat substantial.

Not sleeping enough

Lack of sleep drains our adrenal glands, which then starts or continues the vicious cycle of operating on ‘reserve’ instead of peak performance. Sleep is when the body burns the most efficient calories with minimal conscious effort. Who wouldn’t want that?

Wrong set-up

For cycling specifically, finding out the exact settings on the bike is vital to a comfortable and safe ride. If the settings are not tweaked to the specific height and athletic ability, it can cause strain on muscle groups unknowingly and lead to injury. A proper set up can make all the difference in the quality of the ride.

On an esoteric note not so much physical

In order to deepen one’s practice, it is important to leave enough time prior to class so you arrive in a relaxed state in stead of a feverish rush. If a client isn’t ‘present’ it may take away from the precious time of the class allowing for the brain to relax and the body to calm. Arriving early only adds to the overall pleasure of the class and ultimately enhances the entire experience.  

Joey Gonzalez, COO of Barry's Bootcamp and Celebrity Trainer

Long sessions of cardiovascular exercise at the same pace are not the most effective way to burn fat

Do you strap on a iPod and go for a nice brisk 30-60 minute jog/run everyday? That’s great news for your heart and lungs, however, odds are you’re body is entering a “steady state” and cannibalizing its own muscle. You’re also wasting precious time. If you engage in 20–30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training, you’ll end up burning more calories AND targeting fat. This requires cardiovascular routines, which constantly switch up the level of exertion used. For example, you would jog for 30 seconds, run for 30 seconds, sprint for 30 seconds and recover for 30 seconds. Repeat that 2-minute pattern 10 times and you have the ultimate FAT burning 20 minute session!    

Women think they shouldn’t lift weights because it will make them bulky

My personal pet peeve! This is a MAJOR fitness faux pas. The benefits to strength training are endless and should be treated with the utmost importance. Resistance training is not only the most effective way to build muscle, but also increases all your other physical skills; endurance, speed, etc.  Keeping muscles strong improves bone density, increases metabolism and makes daily activities easier and safer on the body. The stronger your muscles, the less likely you are to injure yourself.  This also sends a signal to the body to burn more fat. Strength training raises the resting metabolic rate so significantly that for each pound of muscle gained, the body burns an additional 35-50 calories per day!

People think that if you’re not losing weight, you’re not making progress

Welcome to a new era. An era where educated people are turning their backs on the bathroom scale. Hopefully by now everybody realizes muscles weighs more than fat. If you follow the above guidelines and commit to a workout routine that helps you burn fat and gain muscle, you may actually end up gaining weight while decreasing your body fat composition. Of course this is only true of certain body types. Overweight and obese individuals are definitely going to lose weight as they implement new and effective fitness programs. However, there are more precise ways to determining success such as body fat testing or measurements.

You can’t spot train certain parts of the body like abdominals and lower body

It is very difficult to see a change in any part of the body until first dealing with fat composition.  Interval cardio and circuit strength training along with a healthy well balanced diet will ultimately cause fat to fall off the body. Only after you’ve reduced these levels of fat, can you start to target development of certain areas of the body through specific resistance and strength exercises.


Antonietta Vicario, Instructor at Physique 57 

Avoiding push-ups

Push-ups are one of the best whole bodied exercises you can do as they incorporate almost every muscle group in the body! They tone arms, work abs, and lift one’s heart rate, which combines strength training with cardiovascular exercise. The common mistakes that I see are people lifting their hips up in the air in a pike position, sagging their hips toward the floor which creates a sinking into the lower back, or dropping one's head which disengages the abdomen. To maximize the benefits, be sure you are doing your push-ups with proper form, shoulders and hips in one line parallel to the floor. Create an oppositional reach forward through the crown of your head and backward from your tailbone out through your heels. Also, be sure to keep your neck long and in line with your spine. Lower and lift from there, bringing your chest lower than your elbows on an inhale and exhaling to push back up.

Ab work mistakes

During our ab work at Physique 57, I frequently see clients push their abs out.  If you work your abs by pressing them out, they will get strong but they will not flatten out.  To avoid this common mistake, it’s helpful to watch your abdominal wall.  When doing any type of ab work, you want to exhale on the curl up while simultaneously pulling your naval into your spine to get the flattening effect.  Your abs should hollow and scoop out, and never push or press up.

Marcus Jackson, Group Fitness Instructor Sports Club/LA

  • People don’t speak up if they don’t understand something or if they need help.
  • When lunging or squatting, people sometimes let their knees shoot past their toes.
  • When a step is involved, people tend to stomp instead of landing lightly, which causes discomfort or injury to ankles, knees, feet, and hips.
  • Also when using a step people tend to let their heels hang off instead of making sure that their whole foot lands on the step.