8 Common Workout Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

86504730-300x200Are you putting in lots of hours at the gym but not seeing the results you want? It might be due to several common mistakes you may not even realize are bad for your workout.

1. Reading while exercising

You think it’s harmless and that you’re killing two birds with one stone. It’s easy to mistakenly think that only your body is busy at the gym and not your mind. Distraction while working out encourages less exertion – you naturally choose a slower pace, etc. Focus on the workout with all of your attention and you’ll get more results.

2. Wearing the wrong shoes

All sneakers are alike, right? Wrong. Running shoes are designed with more cushioning, while cross-trainers have a lower profile and more structure to the shoes. Getting the right shoes for the exercise you do the most will help prevent possible injuries.

3. Useless ab exercises

Thousands of repetitions of ab exercises are not the key to a six-pack. Defined, visible abdominal muscles result from a combination of balanced workouts and clean eating – if you don’t eliminate belly fat, no amount of sit-ups will show. There is nothing WRONG with core exercises, but you might be better served by doing exercises like Pilates and yoga that work on lumbar stabilization. Those will improve overall stability and beef up muscular performance.

4. Doing only one kind of exercise

Your body thrives on variety. If your heart and muscles aren’t challenged, they won’t change and develop.

5. Lifting the wrong weight

Doing an endless amount of reps might just be wasting time. Lifting weights should trigger fast twitch fibers which increase muscle mass and strength. The key is to lift weights that are heavy enough. If you don’t, you simply won’t activate these fast twitch fibers. Increase your weight to increase muscle mass.

6. Push yourself harder

It is a natural reaction to slow down when your body is tired. You might be spending a lot of time exercising but not enough effort. Push your limits!

7. Contract/relax stretching

The key to the flexibility of gymnasts and dancers is the range of motion they develop in their muscles. Try the contract-relax stretch: stretch your muscle for 20 seconds, lightly pause, contract the muscle for five seconds and then stretch further. Repeat.

8. Balance training

Balance training improves proprioception, the relation of your joints to space.  The better your balance is, the stronger your functional strength. Amplify a normal standing bicep curl by standing on one leg, or on an inflatable. There are plenty of ways to get creative.