Fitness Mistakes: A collection

I tend to blog about my failures in fitness more than the obstacles I have overcome. It might be depressing, but I learn from failure. I also learn from Fitness Magazine articles.

 The following are a collection of fitness mistakes that I’ve read over the years.

Most the information is based on my personal experience.

Mistake #1: Just Cardio
Partially true, but cardio alone will not help you lose weight. Exercise is only half of the equation. The other half – diet – is the more difficult to work with part. Diet is the variable that might equal a negative number but you missed a step and don’t know where it all went wrong.

Dieting feels like dividing by zero. Impossible. (GRE Note: You CANNOT divide by zero.)

I know I have to change my eating habits or weight loss will become stagnant.

Mistake #2: Pump Iron Fast
Also not true, and I know from experience.

From the weights and aerobics classes I took in high school to workout programs like The Firm, Slim n’ 6 and Insanity, I know… like I know… you have to go slow.

Do a pushup, and then do the same movement five times slower than normal. Instead of plummeting toward the floor, inch down slowly. The difference is control, and it makes your muscles work harder.

Mistake #3: Just the Bike
Cycling promotes muscle growth in the legs, and only in the thigh region.

If you want super thighs, then bikes are for you; but if you want all over fitness, you have to switch up the routine and the machine.

I do not have this problem. I hate bikes ever since after puberty – and, no, not for a gross reason. The seats simply are not comfortable for me to sit on. Leisurely ride, sure. Sweat session, no.

Mistake #4: Fat Burning Zone
With certain aerobic machines, like the treadmill and elliptical, you can measure your heart rate. The machine will also tell you what “zone” you are in. At the YMCA, the fat burning zone is purple, and it’s the highest.

But why aim for fat burning and only fat burning? The cardio zone will burn more fat calories, which is better in the long run if you want to lose weight.

Remember: Weight loss is calorie loss.

Mistake #5: No Warm Up
Boxers enter the ring covered in sweat and partially fatigued but energized for their fight. Why? If a boxer approaches a fight (or a runner hits the track) with cold muscles, then the athlete risks injury. The first 10 minutes of the actual workout is crap if you don’t warm up your muscles.

When I was in middle school, I attended a camp to improve my speed. The coach told the kiddos to avoid static stretches before a workout and always warm up. (And I still need to work on this.)

Mistake #6: Crunches for Abs
I don’t believe in abs. Not anymore.

Honestly, after the debate I have heard, I do not believe there is an actual solution for abs. Crunch! No crunches! Standing crunch! Run! Get an ab slider! WHO KNOWS?!

I’ll tell you who knows! People with abs.

What do they know? They know they were genetically predisposed to have beautiful stomachs, and the rest of us are screwed.

Forget abs. Yeah, right, I know I won’t either. :(

Mistake #7: Same Old Routine
Weight lifting circuits are meant to be changed.

If you believe in muscle memory, and you should if you still know how to ride a bike, then you know your body will remember routines. Instead of working, the body just does. It’s efficient that way, and you won’t build new muscle tissue.

Mistake #8: Just Yoga
So? I love yoga.

However, although I know several yoga instructors who ONLY do yoga for their workouts and remain pencil thin or perfectly shaped, they are the exception.

A one-hour session of hatha yoga burns fewer calories than breakfast. On the other hand, a 90-minutes vinyasa flow can burn up to 800 calories depending on your weight, height and age.

However, the body is efficient, and once yoga becomes easy for your muscles to remember, all you are is strong and stretchy. Weight loss will stop.

Just like “just cardio” and “just the bike” don’t work, neither does “just yoga.”

Mistake #9: Steady Pace
Running five miles every day at a steady pace, which would probably take me an hour and half, is worse than running three miles with sprints.

By adding fartleks of just 30 seconds, you can increase your calorie burn. Screw steady pace, get moving. (Mondays are for sprinting!)

Mistake #10: Workout, and then Couch
If you work out hard for one hour, and then spend five hours on the couch, you are effectively turning off your metabolism. Turns out that thing has an on/off switch.

Remember: The body is so efficient that when it is put into a mode of inactivity it begins to store. Why? Well, in case ever we are put into a situation where we have no food, the body is prepared.

Why does this bother me? I know women who do nothing but workout for an hour a day (or do absolutely NOTHING) and look fabulous and skinny while stuffing their face with doughnuts and drinking every night. Not fair!

It goes the way of abs I suppose…

The preceding mistakes were found in an article from Fitness Magazine – no link.

The following came from The Nestie Newsletter.

Mistake #11: Workout = Hunger = Weight Gain
Our body is “hungry” when it does not receive the nutrition it needs to survive. If we were never hungry, we would die.

Being hungry is normal. In addition, exercise is an appetite suppressant. Fit kids are abstemious.

Mistake #12: Workout without Fuel
Always eat before your workout. Just a little protein-fiber snack is all you need.

A body performs at its best when it has fuel. When the immediate fuel (your snack) runs out, it is easier for the body to consume the stored fuel (fat and glucose). The longer you work out, the more your stores deplete.

I used to skip breakfast and forget to eat lunch all the time. It was terrible for my body. I know that now.

Plus, after spending all summer eating breakfast every day and remembering to eat lunch, I lose weight more readily.

Work out with food in your stomach (not French fries or a doughnut) and have a post-workout snack (ditto) to promote weight loss and health.

Mistake #13: A Longer Workout is a Better Workout
If you are training for a marathon, it is good to rack up 50 miles a week. However, if you want to peel on pounds, it is much better to rack up 20 minutes a day of hard exercise.

Push your body hard and reap the benefits. Push your body long when you’ve got different goals.

Mistake #14: 3 a Week at 30 a Day
Exercising for 30 minutes a day three days a week is not fitness.

I have heard that women have to do 30-60 minutes of cardio daily to maintain. Gross.

In my experience, 20-30 minutes a day four or five days a week plus 90 minutes of yoga once a week is STILL not enough to lose the weight I need to lose.

I don’t have the equation for the right amount, but Women’s Health Magazine promotes this in their running program. It’s what I’m trying to do now.

Mistake #15: Pain = Gain
Soreness or fatigue is normal. Aches and pains are not. If your body just downright hurts, you might be injured.

I do not have war stories so this is the only example I have.

During a totally normal yoga practice for flexibility, I hurt my right hand. I ignored it because I figured I pinched a nerve or was sore or squished a finger. Something small.

Turns out I did more damage than I thought. Now, I have a recurring serious pain in my hand because I pushed my body when I shouldn’t have.

It’s my hand. I know. It’s dumb, but it hurts!

I have talked about my knees being “upset” during long runs or that my shoulder hurts incessantly. I mean that my body is simply sore and weak. My knees will feel better when I get stronger. The pain in my hand keeps coming back because I didn’t take care of it properly.

Mistake #16: Deus ex Machina
Do not rely on the treadmill (or a stupid watch) to tell you how many calories you burned. Generally, both are incorrect.

I have this problem all the time! The treadmill will tell me I burned 300 calories in 40 minutes after running three miles. However, my watch will tell me I burned 700 calories in the same workout.

Both are lying. I might have burned 900 calories. I might have burned 200 calories.

Here is what I go by: In an hour, a 140-pound woman can burn 500 calories running. I estimate based on that little factoid. (Or I use a Calories Burned Calculator online, which also might be lying.)

What fitness mistake can you add to the list?

How do you determine how many calories you burned? I NEED to know.