Many of us have met someone that just can’t wait to work out. Very few of us ARE that person. If you’re like most people, the time that you spend on the treadmill or in the gym is a sacrifice that requires discipline.
That's why we've compiled a list of 7 ways that you can unintentionally limit the rewards that your sacrifice should yield. Avoid these pitfalls to make sure your sacrifice pays off.
1. Repeat The Same Workout
Do you have a routine that you go to again and again when you exercise? Most of us do. It’s human nature to develop patterns and to seek out comfort in every area of our lives. Exercise is no different.
The problem is that our bodies are masters of adaptation. When we continually do the same motions and exercises, our bodies change to perform those tasks with maximum efficiency. And while the workouts will feel easier, they are also far less effective. Keep your body guessing by changing up your exercise routine. Your workouts will remain challenging, and you will continue to see the benefits that you did when you first began.
2. Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the time when our bodies (particularly our muscle fibers) repair the most from the strains of the day. If you're working out during the day, you absolutely need adequate rest in order to reap the full reward of your efforts.
Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, it's estimated that 40% of adults regularly fall short of the recommendation. It is true that every person is different in terms of the amount of rest that they need, but you should know your body and make sure that you are making your exercise worthwhile by giving yourself time to recover.
3. Being A Slave To The Scale
It's the tendency of most weight-conscious people to weigh themselves often. While it's good to have weight goals and to know where you stand, paying too close attention to the scale can be detrimental. Weight fluctuations are normal, and the balancing act between fat loss and muscle development can’t be determined by the scale. In fact, women can see water retention affect their weight by as much as ten pounds depending on where they are in their menstrual cycles.
Instead of getting disheartened by what the number on the scale says, monitor your progress more accurately by body fat measurement and by the way that your clothes are fitting you.
4. Overdoing Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise is a part of any complete workout program, but there is a line where the exertion begins to backfire. The goal is 25-45 minutes. Beyond that time frame the body tends to lose muscle mass as an adaptation to make cardiovascular activity easier.
Cardio will help you burn calories, and it will keep you feeling good throughout the rest of your day, but it must be balanced with the rest of your program to maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible.
You can get the best of both worlds with an HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) regimen. Short bursts of high-intensity cardio, paired with periods of rest can actually accomplish the same calorie burn as much longer periods of repetitive medium-intensity cardio. And HIIT doesn’t have the negative effect on muscle mass that long periods of cardio does.
5. Skip The Warm-up
Taking muscles and connective tissue from low strain to high strain too suddenly is a recipe for injury. Injuries are unpleasant to deal with, and they can also derail your exercise plans until you have had time to recover. In the case of muscle strains and tears, the recovery process can take quite a while.
Don’t subject yourself to that kind of risk. Take the time to warm up the muscle groups that you're going to be using with stretching and light cardio before going into the higher intensity moves.
6. Only Drink When You're Thirsty
It is estimated that up to 75 percent of people are chronically dehydrated. That is a big problem, because every single cell in our bodies needs water to function properly. When you're dehydrated, you have less energy and your muscles perform at a lower level, harming the quality of your exercise.
It’s easy to forget to drink water. We know that our bodies will make us thirsty before serious dehydration can occur. But by the time you are thirsty, you've already become mildly dehydrated. Give yourself the edge by being intentional about your water consumption.
The current recommendation is between half an ounce, and a full ounce for every pound you weigh. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 – 150 ounces of water a day. If you are active, or live in a warm climate, shoot for the higher mark.
7. Don’t Eat After Exercise
During the 60 minutes after physical exertion, the body is ready to supply nutrients to the parts of the body that have undergone strain. Anything that you eat during this time frame is particularly important.
Unfortunately, many people couple their workouts with periods of fasting in order to lose weight. While this technique may be effective at moving the scales in the short term, it actually hurts your long term progress. When you don’t feed your body after periods of exertion, you actually tend to decrease muscle mass, defeating much of the purpose of exercise in the first place.
Make sure to eat nutrient and protein rich foods following your workouts to get the most out of the time and effort that you are putting in.