Last post I looked at general mistakes people make in exercising and here I want to cover specific faults. These are important to get your head around if you want to gain the most from your exercise program and I can’t emphasis them enough because even elite athletes make them!
- In resistance programs one of the most common mistakes is that exercisers lose tension in their body which is the cause of most internal injuries. (What I mean by ‘internal’ is that the source of the injury is not due to a collision with someone else, particularly in team sports – and even then, a lot of these ‘collision’ injuries would be avoided if the whole-body tension was maintained). If someone lose tension it is because they have not maintained their focus on what they are doing. So try to leave the rest of your life ‘at the door’and concentrate on what you are doing. (Often I ask myself as to whether I am present during my exercise workouts…and this works for me). By maintaining this ‘detachment’ with other things on my mind and I know that I’m not getting the most out of my workouts… Use whatever method that works for you to maintain focus and whole-body tension when you need it. This idea is just as important for exercisers who use other modes of exercise such as running, biking or swimming but here the focus would be on technique, rhythm and breathing for example.
- This next idea seems to be counterproductive in maximum benefit from your workouts but if you want to gain the most out of every repetition and set that you do, use your intuition in the amount of rest you need between sets of exercises. Most people go by the clock and/or the number of repetitions they need to complete for each set and they are not recovered enough to give it their maximum effort. Some sources believe (and have proven scientifically) that you even get a more efficient ‘fat burning’ quality from your workout when you ensure that you use your individual internal gauge when you do this! Personally I use my breathing as a gauge, even between exercises in the mini-circuit program I do. When my breathing slows down I know that I’m ready for the next exercise. In timing each circuit I have observed that the last of six circuits takes me an extra two minutes as compared with the first circuit. You don’t have to push through to complete a set within a certain time. (Also this concept is one of the reasons that I don’t advocate people doing exercise programs such as Cross Fit or Spin classes – the control or recovery is external).
- Allied to this last point, most people exercise for too long. They make the mistake of thinking that more is better. There is strong scientific evidence that exercising more than 40 minutes at a high intensity is counterproductive. In fact I believe that the maximum time to exercise is closer to 30 minutes for a very experienced exerciser and even down to 15 minutes for someone who is only starting to exercise. (If I have an extended period of time – over a week – away from my exercise program, I start by exercising for no longer than 15 minutes and slowly build up to 30 minutes over three weeks. Now I have been exercising for over 50 years consistently and I know for a fact that this works?) For exercisers who do endurance activities, unless you are in an altradistance sport, shorter programs will work better than longer programs…
If you are using exercise as a means to maintain or decrease your weight to a desirable level, then these last two points are even more important to understand. Shorter, high intensity workouts will be of far more benefit to you than long slow ones for weight loss.