Errors in Exercise
Working out without results? Five mistakes you could be making
and how to avoid them
Getting out of bed to go to the gym is agonizing at best. You're
lying there, perfectly comfortable and warm when the wretched alarm
goes off. You drag yourself out of bed and barely make it to your
closet, let alone the car. You grab a protein bar on your way out
and you start to wonder why no one has invented an IV drip for
Somehow you push yourself to work out-because surely this
torture will pay off.
The next day you step on the scale.
"Wait, did I gain a half pound?! That's not fair; I did
Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, there's no A for
effort. You could be making some common exercise mistakes and not
even know it. The good news is that they're easily fixed. Here are
five to turn around.
Mistake 1: Not setting goals
Working out without a goal in mind is like going for a road trip
without a map. Sure, you might end up at the same place, but it
will take you a lot longer to get there.
"Goal-setting is an effective and easy-to-use technique for
promoting behavioral change," says Jessica Matthews, continuing
education coordinator and academy exercise scientist for the
American Council on Exercise. "Make sure your goals are specific,
measurable and attainable. Avoid setting goals that are negative or
unrealistic. And don't set too many at once."
Mistake 2: Doing the same routine over and over … and over
Think that if your exercise regimen works there's no reason to
mess with it? Think again. "Variation is important for both
physiological and psychological reasons," Matthews says.
"Psychologically, varying your program will help combat boredom.
Physiologically, it's imperative to change up workout routines to
continue to make gains and avoid plateaus."
You don't have to start at square one to benefit. Changing even
one aspect of your routine - such as the number of sets you do, the
muscle groups you work or the intensity you sustain - can go a long
Mistake 3: Losing motivation
Just because you go to the gym regularly doesn't mean you are
motivated. In fact, "when a workout becomes monotonous, you're more
likely to train with less passion and intensity," Matthews says.
Mixing up your routine will help. Other ideas for staying motivated
include enacting the buddy system, enrolling in a group class and
rewarding yourself for progress. Just don't do it with food.
Mistake 4: Not lifting weights
You want to lose weight, not bulk up, so weightlifting is a
waste of time, right? Wrong. Strength training benefits your body
twofold. First, you burn calories during the actual exercise.
(Hint: Don't simply rest between sets; hop on a different machine
while you wait.) And second, you continue to burn calories well
after you've left the gym while your muscles work to repair
Mistake 5: Overcompensating calories in for calories out
You're working out regularly, so you should be able to eat
whatever you want, right? Not so fast. People often assume they're
burning more calories during a workout than they actually are. So
don't allow yourself to eat more and think, "It's OK, I'll hit the
gym extra hard tomorrow." Keep your diet in check, and you'll see
results in no time.
- By Shelley Flannery