Between seasoned gym-goers and beginners, there are a few common mistakes when it comes to training. Although these mistakes are not major issues, per se, small mistakes over time can affect the overall effectiveness of your training. A few small tweaks mean that you can maximize the benefits of training.
One of the most common mistakes we see is trainees simply not staying hydrated throughout the day and before a workout. While this is good advice for everyone regardless of following a training regimen, drinking enough water is crucial to your ability to train at your best, as well as recover.
Water is necessary for our cells, tissues, organs, nerves and muscles to function. Our bodies use water in digestion, temperature regulation, to transport nutrients, and cell repair (among other things). What this means practically is that your body needs to be well hydrated to cool you properly during a workout, in addition to providing the essentials to your muscles to help you hit that personal best. Hydration is also important post-workout to ensure your cells have what they need to repair damage and allow you to recover more quickly.
- Not Enough Food
Many people, especially those who have fat loss or weight management goals, mistake how much they should be eating and can end up either eating too much, or too little. Although it is true that you need to be in a total caloric deficit to have fat loss, your body still needs the appropriate nutrients to get you through a workout, and everyday life. The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough of what you need is to follow a plan created for your individual needs.
- Not Enough Rest
Especially in the context of strength training, rest days are essential in allowing your body to heal in order to increase strength of the tissues. It might sound counter-intuitive, but training breaks down muscle tissue causing microscopic tears. Rest allows for repair of connective and muscle tissue. This translates to stronger tissues, which means you get stronger.
Training nonstop can also cause burn out mentally and physically, which can have a negative impact on your overall health as well as impact your ability to stick to your training program. Balance is important in all aspects of life, so be sure to balance work and rest days to avoid acute and cumulative fatigue. Fatigue built up over time can end in a burnout. Rest days are equally as important as training days.
- Too Much Variation
We get it, doing the same workout routine over and over again can be boring. However, mastering movements is important to be able to progress safely. You can’t progress a squat or a run, until you have mastered the movement or pace. Once your body adapts it stops changing (or progressing). But it still takes practice to get it to that point.
Have you ever noticed that as you do certain things repeatedly, they becomes easier? That is when you can add more variation; once you find it easy because that means you have adapted!
- Too Hard, Too Fast
There is nothing quite like the motivation of a new goal or new day or new year to push a person to be their best selves. And when that pertains to exercise, we often see trainees jump from the couch to an intense training program. While we applaud this work ethic, we like the pull the reigns back a bit because we know what will happen. Going too hard, too fast can lead to injury, burnout and loss of enjoyment of life (you are going to be too sore and tired all the time to enjoy life). Remember exercise can still challenge you without breaking you down.
Be smart about adding intensity, and volume. If you aren’t training at all, aim to train 2-3x a week. If you are training 2-3x a week already and want to up the ante, add another day.
It’s about the cumulative effect of training, not just the acute (instant gratification). And to get that cumulative effect, you need to be consistent enough to see it. Going to hard, too fast will not allow that to happen.
By Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC