Consider yourself knowledgeable when it comes to the gym yet you’re struggling to see results? It may be because you’re exercising all wrong. Read on to see what you might be doing wrong and what you should be doing instead.
Although most people in the gym look confident with what they’re doing, the sad truth is many people are just winging it and going through the motions with no real idea of what to do.
Gyms are full of regulars that are dressed to impress and have a set routine, but who have no idea what they’re doing or why they are doing it.
If you’ve been consistent but haven’t seen any results for your efforts, there’s a good chance you’re getting it wrong, but don’t worry, because in this article we’re going to address some common mistakes people make when it comes to exercise, and more importantly, tell you what they should be doing instead.
Steady-state cardio is not the best way to burn fat in the gym
While it is true that steady-state, lower-intensity cardio does indeed burn fat cells, it is not what you should be focussing on in the gym. To transform your body you must be in a calorie deficit, which means you expel more energy than you take in, and although controlling your food is one of the most effective ways to do this, exercise can help.
Steady-state cardio does burn fat cells, although not as many as you may believe, and it’s often the case that by sticking to steady-state cardio and not increasing your intensity, you’re having very little impact on your body.
Your fitness tracker may say you’re in the ‘Fat Burning Zone’ but the truth is you’re not creating any real change.
What Should You Be Doing?
Focus on higher intensity workouts that burn more calories and can change your body. Resistance exercises are fantastic for shaping and building your muscles, which will give you a more defined and athletic shape, but other forms of metabolic training, such as HIIT or Tabata, can also lead to you burning more calories long after your session is complete, helping you to lose weight faster.
Sit-ups are not the best way to get abs
Many people believe that to get flat, toned, rock-hard abs they should be doing 200 sit-ups a day.
Unfortunately, if you believe this, you’re wasting your time and risking injury.
Sit-ups can put undue pressure on the spine, causing damage to the back and they aren’t very effective if your body fat isn’t low enough to reveal the muscle underneath.
Although you will feel a strain when you complete the exercise, it isn’t having the impact that you may think.
Focus your energy on eating correctly to reduce your body fat then completing compound core exercises that work the entire core. Planks, Hanging leg raises, Russian twists, and ab rollouts are all far more effective at building strong abs than sit-ups will be.
Sweating does not mean you’ve worked hard
Common after cardio sessions or when taking part in a high-intensity exercise like spin or HIIT, you walk out, dripping in sweat, proud of how much you’ve accomplished but the trouble is if you’re only metric for success is how much you sweat you’re monitoring your progress all wrong.
The primary purpose for sweat is to cool you down when you’re hot, that’s it, and while it may be true that working harder can make you hotter, therefore you will sweat more, it isn’t a reliable source of progress.
Where you exercised, the type of exercise you did and what you are wearing are all going to impact how hot you get and how much you sweat so you need to find other ways of monitoring your progress.
If you want to track your progress and monitor your effort levels, invest in a heart rate monitor with a chest strap. It’s one of the most reliable ways to track your performance and will give you a clearer picture of effort, irrespective of how much you’ve sweat.
You haven’t earned your wine
This goes hand in hand with people leaving an exercise class dripping in sweat. It may have been challenging, you may have struggled and you may have pushed yourself way beyond your limits, but it’s also very likely that you didn’t burn 1000 or more calories in your 30-minute session as many people are led to believe. While calorie control is one of the best ways to monitor and control your weight, the number of calories you burn from exercise is often nowhere near enough to ‘trade’ for food.
How active you are will play a part in your calorie allowance so you should not see any exercise you complete as ‘extra’ calories that you have ‘earned’. Instead, focus on planning your nutrition around your calories and organize your food and drink for the day to keep you within your goal. It is still possible to drink alcohol and achieve fitness results, just monitor your calories and plan accordingly.
Sore muscles is not a sign of a good workout
Although ‘no pain, no gain’ is a popular fitness slogan, it’s wrong, dead wrong, and to be honest, if you’re feeling pain, you’re probably doing something wrong. When you first start exercising, it’s not uncommon for you to get DOMS (muscle soreness) which you feel for a few days afterward. This leads many people to chase that feeling and expect it every time they go to the gym.
Truth is once your body adapts you shouldn’t get that feeling again, except only occasionally when you move to a maximum rep or try a new exercise for the first time.
You should feel tired and worked out, yes, but pain or discomfort for days on end, no.
Focus on full-body compound movements and progressive overload (lifting heavier or completing more reps and sets each session), train with regular frequency (at least 3 times a week), and eat a calorie-controlled diet. This will lead you to results and without the added stress of your body aching for days on end.
There’s so much misinformation out there that it’s no wonder people don’t know what to do. Some of it, although well-intentioned, has been passed down from friends, family, and peers whereas others, is just plain wrong, and should be avoided at all costs.
The good news is if you’re guilty of any of the above, you now know what you should be doing instead and how to get real results.
To prepare yourself, in the future just think carefully about where you get your information and ensure it’s a reputable source (like us) and remember, when you see others in the gym, don’t copy them, as there’s a good chance they have no idea what they’re doing.