I haven’t written a fitness-focused post in far too long! So here we go … these are fitness mistakes I see people making all the time. And I hate to call out the negative, because I am proud of each and every one of you who exercises, regularly or even semi-regularly, and this is NOT about telling you what you’re doing wrong. But, I do want to make sure I provide some value and help based on what I know, so that’s where this one is coming from.
Fitness is very important to me. And as a group fitness instructor, I spend a lot of time thinking about movement, planning classes, teaching classes and being in the gym. I also spend a lot of time talking to people before and after class about what’s going on in their lives and going on with their bodies. Over the years of hearing some common themes, I wanted to address them.
If you’re doing any of these common fitness mistakes below, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up, you’re human. And the fact that you’re in the position of making fitness mistakes, means you are working on your fitness. Keep up the great work, but consider making a few changes, if you think any of these may be an issue for you.
Let’s go …
Five common fitness mistakes I see people making
Here we go …
1. Wearing the same sneakers for every workout, and wearing those same sneakers for way too long.
Shoes matter! Here’s the deal: If you exercise regularly, you need to change out your sneakers several times a year. Your shoes may not even look dirty, yet, they may be ready to be swapped.
When we do repetitive motions in the same shoes, parts of the inside of the shoes get worn down. Then, when we keep doing those repetitive movements, our joints, ankles, knees and hips start to feel greater impact from less cushion and less support and even from increased unevenness. This is very, very, very common.
If you’ve ever given yourself shin splints from running on old running shoes, then you get it. I’ve done this before many years ago, and I’ll never do it again. In fact, if I ever feel like my knees are even a tiny bit achey, I know that it’s time to get new sneakers, because my body is telling me something is wrong from the ground up.
You guys already know my favorite sneaker, because I talk about it all the time. But I wear this cross-training sneaker, and I’m on my third pair. I also recently ordered the next iteration of that same sneaker, which you can find here, and I’ll report back on the new ones soon. I like flat cross-trainers for the classes I teach in shoes (I go barefoot in my barre classes and during my workouts at home).
Moral of the story: You need to be paying attention to how long you’re wearing your shoes, and you need to be making sure that you’re wearing the right shoes as well. If you work out in the same sneakers several times a week, you need to swap them out every few months at a minimum for your safety.
To find out more about the shoes you wear and which shoes are best for which workouts, check out this post with much more detail on this point: How to choose the right athletic shoe for your workouts.
2. Doing the same workout every single day, or repeating the same workout on consecutive days too frequently.
When you find a workout you like, you want to stick with it. And I totally get that. In fact, it’s great to stick with things for a while to grow in them, repeat movements and get stronger. And any workout you are willing to do regularly, is a good workout for you. But, you have to make sure you aren’t doing the exact same thing every single day. Your body will quickly adapt to that workout, and you will start to get a little less out of it. That’s one reason. The other reason is that you could develop an overuse injury, if you keep doing the same things every single day.
Yes, you can repeat the same workout more than once in a week, but maybe two or three times maximum, with a day in between. You want to have variety in your workouts, but not too much variety that you aren’t focused on growth. You should try to repeat some of the same things each week to see how you are progressing. For instance, try running a mile as fast as you can every Wednesday morning. Try doing barbell back squats every Tuesday and Thursday and add more weight or more repetitions each week. Try attending the same yoga class every Saturday morning and get deeper and deeper into your poses each week. These are helpful things to repeat for progress purposes. But you don’t want to repeat them every day.
Moral of the story: Be careful not to do the same workout too many consecutive days in a row each week, so you can give your body time to recover, you can avoid overuse injuries, and you can switch it up to keep your body guessing. You want to do a mixture of cardio and strength each week, and try your best to progress in your movements each week too.
I wrote a whole post about scheduling your week of workouts, and you can read more about that in this one: How to schedule your week of workouts.
Also, if you have specific questions about how this would look with a class-only workout week (which you know I LOVE), I could write a post on that too, so let me know.
3. Neglecting rest and recovery methods.
Stretching is boring. Recovery is boring. I get it. It’s much more fun to feel those post-exercise endorphins and get on with your day. But, if you have a regular workout routine, you also need a regular recovery routine.
Recovery methods can include massages, foam rolling, stretching, Epsom salt baths, percussive massage and more.
I wrote a whole post on recovery methods and how and when to do them, so check out this one: Seven recovery methods to try on your next rest day.
If you neglect your recovery, it may not catch up to you right away. But eventually, it will catch up to you. Your muscles will feel tight. You will feel slight aches and pains. You may even develop injuries. And you could stall your results too.
There’s a reason professional athletes pay big bucks for cryotherapy, daily massages and special ice baths. They know that they have to spend time on methods that help their muscles to heal, so they can perform better. It’s the same for you and for me, although perhaps on a smaller scale.
Rest days and sleep count as recovery too, so make sure you are taking regular days off from exercise and focusing on getting a good night of sleep to support your workouts and fitness routine too.
Moral of the story: Don’t neglect recovery until it’s too late. You need to be intentional about doing things to help your muscles heal and help your body relax, restore and recover.
4. Putting too much emphasis on the calorie burn and not on the movement itself.
I get it. It feels good to burn calories. And I know we’re taught that the more you burn, the more weight you lose. Or the more you burn, the fitter you’ll be. While yes, calories in vs. calories out does generally matter, but when it comes to your overall fitness — there’s more to it than just the burn. We also want to build. And we also want to recover. And this is one of the biggest common fitness mistakes out there.
Typically, cardio workouts will burn more calories than strength-training workouts, merely because you tend to get your heart-rate up more in cardio workouts. But, strength-training workouts are so incredibly beneficial. And the more muscles you have in your body, the more calories your body will require for homeostasis. Muscle is expensive, in a very good way. We want muscle.
If you are someone who chooses a workout based on a big calorie burn, I would encourage you to consider the fact that it’s not all about the burn. Think about the build. Think about the recovery. Think about challenging your body in different, but valuable movement patterns that may not always get your heart-rate through the roof, but are still improving your overall well-rounded fitness. Sometimes, you may finish a workout that felt so good on your body, but didn’t give you a big calorie burn, and that is NOT a failure. That workout still mattered.
Moral of the story: If you feel challenged in a good way from a workout, that’s a great benchmark. It may not leave you dripping in sweat or it may not leave your heart-rate super elevated, but feeling challenged or fatigued means you are working in other ways. Don’t neglect that. We like to burn. But we also need to build. And it’s not all about the numbers.
5. Ignoring pain that turns into an injury.
If you have an annoying feeling that turns into a pain, I wouldn’t keep doing the movements that bother it, hoping it will go away. Oftentimes, this can lead to a real injury, which will require you to be out for a while, and we don’t want that.
Now, I can’t assess your pain in this blog post, but I do know that a lot of pain can come from overdoing it on exercise movements when you don’t have proper form. That means you start to strain a muscle, joint or tendon, and it gets worse when you do the movement. If you ever feel a sharp or shooting pain, or pain in an area that was previously injured, you should stop the movement immediately.
You should definitely be checking in on your form regularly, either by exercising in front of a mirror, or listening to cueing in follow-along workouts. Or, you could meet with a personal trainer to get some help assessing your movement patterns and form (I always recommend getting the help of a professional).
You could also try to warm up and mobilize your body a bit more before exercise, through foam rolling, dynamic movements, moving stretches and even percussive therapy (one of those massager guns, I mentioned above in recovery). Because a prepared body is more loose and limber and less likely to get injured or feel pain.
Also important to note: If you’re taking a group fitness class and feel pain, I would recommend modifying the movement so you can avoid the pain, rather than powering through.
Moral of the story: Don’t ignore your pain, my friends! It’s always a good idea to get the help of a personal trainer or a physical therapist to assist you figuring out what’s going on to get to the root of the issue, before it becomes a bigger problem than it needs to be.
And those are my tips on common fitness mistakes I often see people making.
Once again, if you’re someone who exercises regularly, props to you! And if you find that you’re doing some of the things above, no big deal. Make a couple small tweaks to your routine, slowly, but surely, and see how it feels. Good luck to you, and stay moving!
Thanks for being here to read this post about common fitness mistakes, my friends! I’m happy to answer any additional questions you have in the comments on in a future post, so please feel free to ask. 🙂
Other posts you may like …
- How to choose the right athletic shoe for your workouts
- Les Mills On Demand vs. Peloton app: Everything you need to know
- What I’ve learned from teaching group fitness for 12 years
- How to get more from your virtual and digital fitness classes
- Seven recovery methods to try on your next rest day
Questions of the day for YOU …
What’s a fitness mistake you often make?
What’s your favorite workout?
What workout do you do the most frequently?