It can be very exciting to embark on a new fitness class, or take on a new gym membership. Just by simply enrolling and showing up, it’s already a huge step towards progress. But while we know you’re extra motivated to give it your all, there are a few key rookie mistakes you need to avoid.
Progress in the gym is extremely delicate. One mistake, one binge-eating session of fried chicken and beer, can erase a week’s worth of hard work. When it comes to your fitness, you don’t want to be taking a step forward, and then taking two steps back.
We understand, however, that things don’t always go according to plan. It’s important to understand why things happen, and why you’re not seeing progress after hitting a wall. We’re here to help you steer clear of these beginner pitfalls that will hinder your progress.
Today, Evolve Daily shares six rookie mistakes that could be hurting your fitness progress.
1) Going too hard, too fast
With all that pent-up motivation, it’s understandable that you want to come storming out of the gates to give it your all. No one who has ever had success in the gym ever started at a thousand miles per hour. That’s a surefire way to hit a progress wall and potentially burn yourself out.
What you want to do is take it slow and steady, and gradually increase resistance as you make progress. By doing this, you’re not shocking the body with too much activity, which often leads to the dreaded fitness plateau. Instead, you want to take things one step at a time, build strength and endurance, and continue to challenge yourself in a controlled manner.
This is actually the biggest pitfall for gym rookies and is the leading cause for people not sticking to their programs.
Remember that fitness isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. It takes at least 8-12 weeks of consistent workouts to see tangible and visible results.
It’s a real problem that hampers even professionals at the highest level.
Working out can be addictive, primarily because physical exertion stimulates a massive boost of endorphins or feel-good hormones. The effect compounds once you discover that your body is capable of so much more than you’ve ever thought before. And as soon as you start seeing results, it becomes so tempting to hit the gym harder than ever before.
The things you’ll achieve at the gym will make you want to go back and train more to see if you can break your own record. Working out can be fun, and hitting your goals can be very satisfying, but never forgo the opportunity to provide your body the rest it needs.
Rest and recovery is one of the biggest components of a good fitness routine. Allow your muscles to heal and repair, and you will actually see results faster. Taking a day off from the gym will also rejuvenate your mind to help you perform better when you return.
3) Skipping the warm-up
Some people don’t have the patience to warm up before they exercise. Don’t be one of those people. Warming up boosts performance and decreases the risk of cramping or pulling a muscle. It also entails different types and intensities of exercises for different people.
A bodybuilder’s warm-up weights can be a rookie’s personal record, and a professional boxer’s warm-up exercise can be the beginner’s entire workout session.
A good warm-up before working out dilates your blood vessels and ensures your muscles have ample oxygen for best performance. It also raises your internal body temperature to give you optimal flexibility and energy efficiency. By slowly increasing your heart rate, warm-ups also decrease the stress placed on your heart during exercise.
The goal is to get the body ready to move by going through the motions, circulating the blood, and getting the heart rate up.
4) Skipping the post-workout stretching
It’s so easy to skip this part. Most beginners feel like stretching is just a waste of time, when it’s completely the opposite. It’s also tempting to just head straight for the showers. However, post-workout stretching is so important when it comes to maintaining the integrity of your muscles, therefore don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
A post-workout cooldown stretch is just as important as your entire workout routine. Post-workout static stretches after exercise improve blood flow to your extremities. It also enhances the flexibility of your muscles, which are at a higher risk of tightening after a workout, especially after a session of intense lifting or training.
Skipping your cooldown stretches once won’t yield any noticeable effects. Make a habit of it, however, and it will worsen to the extent of affecting your functional body movements. There’s nothing to lose with doing your cooldown stretches, anyway. They take as little as 10 minutes, and the process is relaxing. Learn to enjoy your post-workout stretches and trust in the process.
5) Complicating moves without mastering the basics
As a new student of the game, it’s important that you study the fundamentals and have all of that locked down before you complicate matters with advanced techniques.
The basics include understanding and executing proper form. In martial arts, that means learning the beginner level techniques, in weight lifting, that means ensuring even weight distribution.
If you haven’t mastered the basics to the point that it becomes so thoroughly integrated into your muscle memory, then it’s best to keep away from more complicated moves until you do. Basic exercises are important because they are the base that other exercises are built upon.
You don’t want to have weak fundamentals that can potentially affect how you progress in your fitness journey.
6) Not having a nutrition plan
A proper nutrition plan is so important because physical fitness isn’t just about hitting the gym hard. It’s also about making the right food choices and cooking up a storm. As they always say, abs aren’t built in the gym, they’re built in the kitchen.
Not having a proper nutrition plan is a pitfall to your success.
Overindulging or overconsuming calories will lead to weight gain, while undereating leads to muscle deficiency. At the same time, not consuming enough nutrients or calories will no doubt affect your performance in the gym.
Without a structured and intelligent nutrition plan, you risk yo-yo dieting and putting on more weight than you’ve lost.
You don’t have to hire a nutritionist and come up with something advanced. All you need to do is to sit down and just give your eating plan some thought and make intelligent food choices. Most importantly, stick to the plan.
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