10 ways to avoid common fitness mistakes

Article Amanda Khouv Feb 18, 2016

We’ve all fallen into tricky fitness traps at some point. Here are the mistakes to look out for next time.

1. Overtraining

Too much exercise and not enough rest can cause the stress hormone, cortisol, to shoot up, causing fat to deposit around your middle and muscles to waste away. Too much of anything, including exercise, isn’t healthy!

2. Exercising on an empty stomach

‘Fasted exercise will reduce the speed the muscles can work at,’ says sport and exercise nutrition expert James Collins (www.theperformancenutritionist.com). ‘Lower blood sugar starves the brain and makes training feel more difficult.’

3. Going long

Long runs can end up being more about endurance than fitness. Try interval training instead, switching between sprints and active recovery. This revs up your metabolism and reduces the impact on your joints. 

4. Working out all day

Really long workouts require more energy, so can cause your body to break muscles down to convert into sugar. Keep sessions to an hour at most to prevent this.

5. Avoiding carbs after training

We all know that protein is essential for muscle repair, but carbs are just as important. They help to restore glycogen, allowing you to keep up your training – essential if you want to see real results.

6. Sticking with high reps and light weights

The notion that high reps of light weights tone the body and low reps of heavy weights add bulk is simply not true. The only way to tone is to lose body fat, and lifting heavier weights will build muscle (not ‘bulk’), which metabolises fat. 

7. Staying in a rut

Seen results from a particular workout? Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all you need. Your body will stop responding and need something new to wake it up again.

8. Pigging out on junk food because ‘I’ll work it off in the gym tomorrow…’

You need to treat yourself every now and then, but junk food tends to be packed with, well, junk. The excess calories will be stored as fat and the high sugar and salt content will leave you craving more. Having a nutrient-packed snack will do far more for your energy and insides. 

9. Running scared from resistance training

It’s tempting to think that cardio exercise is for fat burning and resistance training is for muscle building. In fact, cardio is great for the heart and lungs, and resistance training ensures you burn more calories, even at rest. Mix it up, ladies!

10. Being a slave to the digits

If your gaze is fixed on ‘calories burned’ on the treadmill display, look away! The figure includes what you burn even when resting and is dependent on your heart rate, body fat and level of fitness, so it’s a loose guide at best.