5 fitness faux pas you’ll pay for

Whether it’s the holiday season or any other time of the year, few of us have unlimited time to exercise.

But when time is even shorter, and you have even more to do – like you will over the coming weeks, especially – making the most of any time you are able to set aside for health and fitness will give you more satisfaction, better results and help you stick to doing it regularly.

The first place to start is with a few bad habits that reduce your exercise results. They may not seem so dastardly, but they can quickly sabotage your workouts and add frustration that could negatively impact all the progress you’ve managed throughout the year. Go through this simple list and see if you can level up your exercise for the results you want…

1. Reading while you’re exercising

I love a good book (or magazine) as much as the next person. If you can read or plan your social media strategy while you’re exercising, however, you’re really in a low intensity and slow speed mode that isn’t going to get you results. It’s not that you have to go hard and fast all the time. Yet, it’s all mind-body. You’ve got to tune into what you’re doing if you want the time you do spend on exercise to benefit you.

2. Randomly using machines as they become available

Have a plan when you exercise. You may need a few plans, in fact, so you have your ideal, your second best, and your if-all-else-fails plan. The busier you are the more important it is to have a core set of exercises you do and do first before you move on to less important exercises that you can drop when time is of the essence.

If you only have 10 minutes you want to do the things that will reap the most rewards. Yet, even if you have 30 minutes or more, you want to do the most important things first so you put the best effort into them.

3. Repeating the same exercises in the same order

Your body is too smart for your own good some times. Falling into habits that lead you to start with the same exercises every time will begin to reduce the benefit you get from them over time. Surprise your body regularly by changing the sequence, the timing, or the specific exercises that you do to target your muscles.

You can, for instance, target the gluteals, quadriceps, and hamstrings with leg press, squats and a hip sled. Using a different machine or exercise in consecutive workouts offers much needed variety to stimulate the muscles (and your brain). You can also surprise the muscles with smaller changes:

  • Vary the width of your stance
  • Change the timing of your contractions so you either go slower, or faster, or pause at midpoint

4. Skipping the warm up

When you’re short on time this is oh-so tempting. The extra five minutes spent warming up however can mean less risk of injury, increased fat burning and more muscle recruitment. Instead of skipping warm ups, shorten every segment of your workout in order to reduce your workout time.

5. Ignoring the need for recovery time

Exercise causes micro tears in the muscles. The increase in strength and endurance that defines fitness comes during the recovery phase between workouts when muscles repair. The repair that occurs doesn’t just bring the muscle status back to the pre-exercise status. It brings it to a slightly higher status.

Fitness improvement occurs because of the right kind of exercise but it happens during rest between exercise sessions. Strategically plan exercise that varies in intensities and that includes days off for best results. For instance:

  • Monday – day off
  • Tuesday – interval training and weights
  • Wednesday – walking and yoga
  • Thursday – long slow bicycle
  • Friday – interval training and weights
  • Saturday – day off
  • Sunday – long hike

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Debra Atkinson

By Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson Is the founder of the Flipping 50 movement and host of the Flipping 50 podcast and TV show available on your iphone, ipad, and Apple TV. She is the author of four books including You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women and Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust.

Debra is a contributing blogger on the Huffington Post, ShareCare, Prime Woman, and Livingbetter50. She provides solutions for women approaching 50 or who have already turned the corner on what to eat, how to move, and the mindset for lifestyle change with hormone balance that will make the next years as the best years. Find her resources here.