Feel like you’re training regularly, but getting nowhere? It can be easy to have your fitness goals derailed by small bad habits. Our experts reveal the most common slipups in training regimens and how to remedy them.
1. You're winging your workout.
It’s a mistake to just "wing it" during a training session. "Working out without a plan is like going to the office and not having a clue what your schedule is or what you’re supposed to do," says personal trainer Casey Miller. "You may get something done, but you’ve also wasted a lot of time.” Having no plans can also mean you settle into your comfort zone and opt for activities you just like, rather than what’s challenging."
Miller suggests checking in with a personal trainer and mapping out a tailored plan of attack, including a warm-up, main set, cool-down, and stretching. "To be efficient in the gym, you need to have a specific goal," explains Miller. "Think beyond just losing weight — you might want to strengthen your legs, improve your flexibility, or increase your endurance."
"If your goal is targeted, you’ll reach it faster and be able to get to work quickly," he says. "Having a plan also means you can monitor your progress and make tweaks when needed."
2. You're not recovering properly.
Skipping rest days is a recipe for sore muscles and will mean training sessions start to drag. "Our ability to 'bounce back' declines as we age, so we need to become more sensible with our training and focus on quality over quantity," says personal trainer Rebecca Rule.
"It’s OK to do some form of movement or training every day, but it’s wise to break up tougher sessions with more gentle activity, such as yoga, Pilates, and foam rolling."
Lack of quality sleep will also slow down progress on your fitness and weight-loss goals, says Rule. "Deep restorative sleep after training is important, as it can lower the stress hormone cortisol and assist in fat loss."
3. You're always relying on your playlist.
Blasting your music during every session can lead to a loss of mindful, connected movement. "Rather than ramping up your music at every workout, take off your headphones and focus on the quality of your movement," suggests Rule.
"If you’re running, concentrate on your breathing or the placement of each foot as it connects with the treadmill or ground. When weight training, focus on the neuromuscular connection (how your mind and muscle work together) and visualize the muscle you are working. This will enhance the quality of the movement."
If you’re training outside, try turning down the volume or leaving your music at home sometimes. "A break from your music will help you refocus on your surroundings, put you 'in the moment' and melt away stress," says personal trainer Justin Rosales.
4. You're not staying hydrated.
Forgetting to fill up your water bottle can make for a lackluster workout. "Dehydration affects physical and mental performance and can cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and cramping," says Rule.
"Conversely, good hydration will regulate body temperature and lubricate joints." But don’t wait until you’re parched to guzzle some H20. "It's best to hydrate prior to sweating or feeling thirsty, as there’s usually signiﬁcant ﬂuid loss prior to these body mechanisms."
Your water bottle is your best gym buddy, says Rosales. "Fill it up 30 minutes before you train, and consume it beforehand," says Rosales. "Do the same 30 minutes after your workout. For the rest of the day carry a water bottle with you and take small sips often."
5. You're doing the same thing all the time.
Cardio doesn’t have to mean long, boring workouts on the bike or treadmill. "Long cardio sessions at a steady pace aren’t a mistake from a fitness perspective, but doing the same thing every time you hit the gym is, as it could lead to overuse injuries, results plateaus, and lack of motivation," says Rosales. "New challenges and a varied program not only help to keep you motivated, but will challenge your body and continually improve your fitness. Swap cardio machines for a training circuit of HIIT exercises like burpees and squat jumps, with short periods of rest. It’s intense and will get your heart rate up, and it will build more lean muscle tissue, which will help burn calories more efﬁciently.”
This article was originally written by Pip Harry. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.