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Fitness Friday: Common Exercise Mistakes

Posted Mar 12 2010 9:28am
I'm having an awful reaction to raw agave nectar I put in my tea last night, so I'm going to let my friend certified fitness trainer Lisa Ritchie give you the lowdown on Fitness Friday while I take a Benadryl to get this rash down. Remember, you can contact Lisa at


by guest blogger Lisa Ritchie

You’re eating healthy, devoted to the gym, yet you’re not seeing the results you want. Many times a workout routine becomes exactly that; routine. Here are some common mistakes many of us make on our way to our fitness goals:

Focusing too much on cardio. Women especially are guilty of this. Ever heard of the phrase, “Cardio Queen”? Yes, cardio does help burn body fat but it doesn’t create much muscle definition. Look at a marathon runner; sure they’re incredibly thin with very low body fat, but there is no muscle! You need a well-rounded workout including weight/resistance training.

Lifting too light. The ladies again come to mind. Women are often afraid of “getting big muscles” or “too bulky”. Few women have the natural testosterone in their bodies to get the muscles a man can develop. It takes intense training and proper nutrition. If you want to sculpt your physique, you must challenge your muscles. By lifting light weights you are focusing on the slow twitch muscle fibers which encourage endurance, but not strength. 8 to 12 repetitions of a weight heavy enough to create a challenge is ideal.

Letting gravity do the work. Many exercisers think LIFTING the weight is enough, and simply let it drop or fall downward on the return. The “negative” or eccentric contraction is actually the most important in weight training. Controlling the weight on the way “down” causes more muscle growth. Aim for at least 2 seconds on the “up” and 4 seconds on the return. Or, try “super slow training” which requires a good 8 to 10 seconds in both directions.

Not drinking enough water. Protein metabolism can slow down (along with most of your other body processes) when you are dehydrated. A minimum of half your body weight in ounces should be consumed daily, more if you are exercising intensely or for over an hour a day.

Not changing it up. Your workouts need to be “shaken up” often to get maximum results and avoid the dreaded plateaus. Your body often adjusts, getting accustomed to your exercise routine. Change your cardio into intervals, or change the modality (for example, instead of cycling, try running, or the ellipitcal). Change the order of the body parts you train in the weight room, or switch up the weights. Go from machines to free weights. You have to keep your muscles guessing.

Not eating enough. Again, women are most often the culprits. Dieting to starvation will not help you lose weight healthfully nor help you keep it off. You must fuel your workouts and the best way is to eat small meals of healthy foods five to six times a day. A good option is to pack a soft-sided cooler bag each morning with everything you need. Focus on non-processed, low-salt natural foods.

Not taking time off. As dedicated as you are, your body DOES need to rest, recoup and recover. You need at least 48 hours between strength training sessions, and you want to avoid overtraining. If you find yourself fatigued, irritated, and prone to injuries, you may want to rethink your workout schedule.

Zoning out. Not exercising “mindfully” can decrease your results. If you tend to zone out watching TV, reading, talking or letting your mind drift during your workout, you’ll find your lack of focus is detrimental to your progress. Tune out from the activity around you and zone IN on your muscles, squeezing and tightening the ones you are training.

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