The Top 20 Fitness Mistakes Beginners Make
Don't let exercise errors stand in your way
Are you exercising regularly, yet not seeing the results you want? Or
getting sidelined by pulled muscles and other injuries? Feeling tempted to drop
out because you're so bored?
Don't give up your fitness program just yet. Maybe the problem isn't the
exercise itself but the way you're exercising.
Exercisers (especially beginning exercisers) often make mistakes that keep
them from getting the most from their workouts. Fitness experts spoke to WebMD
about 20 of the most common exercise mistakes, and how you can keep them from
derailing your fitness program.
1. Doing the "gym slouch." "We see many people in the gym
leaning on equipment," says Debi Pillarella, MEd, a spokeswoman for the
American Council on Exercise. "We call it 'gym slouch': They're on the
Stairmaster, [elliptical cross trainer], or treadmill, leaning over, and
hanging on for dear life."
When your back is rounded, your spine doesn't get enough support. So stand
erect when you're working out on one of these machines.
2. Getting a grip. Holding on too tightly to the cardio equipment
lets you "cheat" and contributes to slouching. It also keeps you from
moving your arms -- which can boost your heart rate and burn extra calories. If
loosening your grip makes you feel insecure, try this technique Pillarella
teaches at Community Hospital Fitness Pointe in Munster, Ind. "Instead of
gripping, just rest your fingers, from your index finger to the pinkie, on the
bars. As you get more comfortable, drop a finger. Eventually, you may have just
the index fingers resting there for security."
3. Catching up on your reading. If you're doing lots of reading on
the elliptical machine, you're probably not getting a good workout, says Julie
Isphording, host of the radio shows Fitness Information Talk and On
"If you must read, stop about every three minutes and do a four-minute
focus interval," she says. During this interval, "concentrate on
picking up the pace, dropping your shoulders, breathing, and using your
4. Walking with weights. Carrying hand weights when you walk might
seem like a good way to add strength training to your cardio workout, but it
compromises your stride. "You lean forward, and it stresses the quads,
ankles, and shins, and can cause stress fractures," Isphording says.
"Keep your cardio and strength training separate."
5. Thinking cardio is enough. Many people think they need only a
cardiovascular exercise program. "We begin losing muscle at age 30,"
says Isphording. "Strength training builds muscles, which increases
metabolism and burns more calories."
6. Rushing your reps. Doing weight-lifting repetitions too fast
raises your blood pressure and increases your risk for joint injury. It also
compromises your results.
"The safest way to use strength machines or dumbbells is: in lifting
phase, exhale for two counts and hold briefly at the top of the contraction,
then return as you inhale for four counts," says Pillarella. "Always
exhale during the hardest part of the work."