When it comes to creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, your habits can literally make or break you. Setting good habits from the start can save you a lot of frustration and wasted time down the road.
In the next three articles we will address some of the detrimental exercise habits many get trapped in, and offer up helpful tips to improve your workout. We will summarize some of these here, and focus on what we believe are the most important parts of a healthy fitness routine.
Take note of these five fitness habits that you would be wise to reconsider, if you want to improve your results:
1. Avoiding exercise due to sore muscles: More than likely, you’ve experienced the muscle soreness that sometimes follows a new or vigorous workout, called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Tempting as it may be to coddle and rest your sore muscles, recent research has found that exercise using light resistance actually provides acute relief similar to that of massage.
2. Ignoring severe pain: On the other hand, ignoring messages transmitted through sharp pains is not to be recommended either. Pushing through pain can result in hard-to-heal injuries, so always listen to your body. Pain can signify that you’re doing an exercise incorrectly, so make sure to pay attention to your form.
3. Staying within your comfort zone: This is a critical flaw of any fitness regimen. Without variety and challenge, your body will quickly adapt and plateau. As a general rule, as soon as an exercise becomes easy to complete, you need to increase the intensity and/or try another exercise to keep challenging your body.
4. “Machine hopping” without a plan. This has pro’s and con’s. On the one hand, jumping from one machine to another automatically prevents your body from adapting to any particular routine. On the other you need to develop a sound strength base before you can build on it. Jumping around doesn’t allow for that so make sure you fully understand the rationale behind each machine and also what order you should do them. We suggest making sure you maintain a certain amount of consistency to start and sticking with a particular routine for four to six weeks to develop a solid base. Once your fitness and strength increases, you can give yourself more leeway.
5. Avoiding strength training: Many people, women especially, avoid weight training because they don’t want to “bulk up” a’ la Schwarzenegger. This is another critical mistake, as strength training has significant health benefits that have nothing to do with building “bulky” muscles. For example, weight-bearing exercise, like resistance or strength training, can go a long way to prevent brittle bone formation, and can help reverse the damage already done. It also has brain-boosting side effects, which can help you avoid age-related dementia.