Top 10 Fitness Mistakes

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Most fitness goals include weight loss, or the reduction of fat content, in one way or another. Whether we want to lose a couple pounds, change a clothing size, or gain muscle mass, loss and control of our fat content is usually part of the plan.

Just as it is necessary to know what steps to take to meet your individual fitness goals, it is just as important to know what not to do. Avoid the following top ten mistakes that are sure to ruin your fitness efforts:

1. Fail to Plan.

It's been said over and over: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Working out without a pre-determined workout regime is similar to going on a trip without directions; most likely you'll end up getting lost. Don't make this common mistake. Enlist the aid of a qualified personal trainer to design a proper resistance training and aerobic program. Purchase one of the many guides to fitness programming and educate yourself on the basics.

2. Compare yourself to others.

Go into any gym and you're sure to see grunting exercisers muscling their way through workouts. Meanwhile, the group fitness studio is filled with twirling, panting, leaping students who look more like they're auditioning for a music video than participating in an aerobics class. Don't even think about trying to emulate them. At the very least you'll get discouraged that you can't keep up; at the worst you'll get hurt.

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Keep your expectations realistic. A beginning expecting to bench 300 pounds in the first month is doomed to failure. Better to increase strength incrementally over time. Likewise, presuming that you'll lose 100 pounds of bodyfat on a new diet in three months will never happen. Set realistic goals that will keep you motivated and concentrate on yourself, not others, throughout the process.

3. Too little fitness.

Contrary to what popular exercise programs would have us believe, it is simply not enough to put in three or four exercise sessions per week and expect major results. Weight loss and body composition changes are results of cumulative lifestyle choices, not just exercise in the gym. There are 168 hours in a week; expecting to lose weight by just spending 1% of our available time being active is ridiculous.

This doesn't mean you need to spend your entire day chained to a barbell, but make sure that you are active in some fashion every day. In addition to workouts, increase lower level activity by walking or bike riding to work, choose the parking space furthest away from the grocery store's door, or get out and play with your kids. The point is to be active and keep the body in motion on a regular basis.

4. Too much fitness.

On the other hand, don't become obsessed with exercise that it begins to rule your life. Over-training is as detrimental to achieving fitness goals as doing nothing at all.

Common signs of over-training include overuse injuries, insomnia, fatigue, prolonged recovery from workouts, and general disinterest in exercise. Rest and recovery are vital for achieving gains and preventing burnout.

5. Never change your

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