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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Fitness Learning Process: 5 Errors To Erase

Fitness is a learning process. It is a learning process in terms of finding out about yourself and what your body can handle, and it’s a very literal learning process in terms of learning how to use machines or optimize your workouts for the best results. No one is born with an innate knowledge of how to ensure they get the most from their physical activity— and as a result, there’s a lot of room for error.

These errors are concerning for a number of reasons. They can be errors that are potentially harmful, such as causing injuries or damaging an area of your body, and they can be errors which mean you don’t see the results you might expect from your workouts. Either way, it’s clear that any dedicated fan of fitness needs to ensure that they eliminate these errors from their workout regimen, so that all physical activity is as beneficial as it can possibly be.

So, let’s dive on into the most common errors people make when trying to improve or maintain their fitness. By knowing what you need to avoid, you can be confident that every second you spend working out is a second that is genuinely good for you, and that your fitness journey can be enjoyed rather than endured.

ERROR! Failing to use supports

No matter what the physical activity, there’s a support you can use to minimize the risk of injury. Many fitness fans forgo these supports or deem them unnecessary, but the simple truth is that supports can help protect you— and ensure that you’re able to continue your fitness regime in the future. No one wants to have their workout routine disrupted by an injury, which is why you should always seek out supports to help keep your body as protected as possible.

Here are a few examples of supports you might want to consider using for various disciplines:

  • Running: ankle supports; knee supports; heel supports (particularly if you have plantar fasciitis, a condition commonly found in runners)
  • Lifting weights: support belts, ankle supports.
  • Cycling: knee supports; ankle supports; gloves to prevent chafing.
  • All physical activities: kinesiology tape.
The only possible exception to this rule is swimming, as the water itself helps to provide necessary support to your body. For any other form of physical activity, there’s undoubtedly a support that you can utilize to improve your performance and prevent injury.

ERROR! Not getting enough sleep

It may seem like how well you sleep isn’t particularly connected to your workout regime, but the two are more interlinked that you may initially think.

Sleep is when your mind and body have the chance to work through any issues without being disturbed by your conscious mind. Sleep is where your body heals itself, which is a particularly important consideration if you are a dedicated fitness fan.

Let’s say that you work out hard during the daytime, and your body is sore in the aftermath. You go to bed that night and only grab a few hours sleep, which means that your body doesn’t have the chance to truly repair itself— but you work out again the next day anyway. The cumulative effect of not allowing your body to heal after a workout means that injuries, aches, and pains are far more likely.

If you’re committed to a fitness regime that is genuinely going to benefit your life, then you need to go out of your way to ensure that your sleep hygiene is as good as possible. Go to bed at the same time every night; upgrade your mattress after perusing for tips; and try and encourage yourself to sleep on your side or your back. All of these steps will help to ensure you get an adequate amount of good quality sleep and that your body has the time it needs to regenerate.

ERROR! Failing to diversify your workouts

A few times in this post, the term “workout regime” has been used. However, one of the biggest errors you can make is to have a workout regime that is your only regime— variety is definitely the spice of your fitness life.

While it’s natural to gravitate towards an established workout pattern, the truth is that this can be problematic. For one thing, your body will just become good at those specific exercises, which is not a great choice if you’re looking to achieve well-rounded fitness. Secondly, if your workout regime is always the same set of exercises, you’re going to find that your interest begins to wane.

Keep life interesting by diversifying your habits in regards to exercise. Every so often, book an exercise class that you’ve never tried before, or work out outdoors if you normally do it indoors (or vice versa). These small changes help you to maintain a better level of interest in your workouts, as well as ensuring that your body is experiencing a number of different challenges. Remember, there’s more than one type of fitness, and as points out, to achieve optimal health you need to try and cover them all.

ERROR! Going too fast and hard too soon

When you’re trying to work on your fitness, it’s tempting to push yourself as hard as you can. This has even become a trope of sorts, with TV characters frequently exaggerating the miles they have run or the push-ups they have accomplished. The message that viewers can take from this is that more is always better in regards to any kind of physical activity, but in reality, this just isn’t the case.

While “the burn” and pushing yourself will always have a part to play in a good exercise regime, the truth is that you shouldn’t exceed your physical capabilities too soon. If you want to tighten your abs, doing 500 sit-ups in an evening isn’t going to do you much good. It’s going to hurt, which means you won’t want to do it again, and you’re likely to damage your muscles as they were unprepared for the sudden onslaught. The same is true if you’re intending to run a marathon; you don’t want to start your training by running five miles at your first practice.

Good exercise discipline slowly turns the dial up on the intensity of your workouts, rather than expecting instantaneously impressive distances and weights to be achieved. By building gradually, you’re able to develop the core strength and/or aerobic ability that you will need to go faster, stronger, further, or heavier. Protect both your enthusiasm and your body by taking things slowly, rather than going “all out” and running the risk of harm.

ERROR! Not setting yourself goals

For many people, when asked what they are trying to achieve through fitness, their answer will be rather vague:

  • “I want to lose weight.” 
  • “I want to have more energy.” 
  • “I want to be fitter.” 
There’s no doubt that all of these reasons are valid, but their lack of specificity is potentially problematic. When left open, these statements don’t have a metric by which they can be measured— which can make it difficult to know if you’re truly improving and benefiting your life through your efforts.

It’s far better for you mentally to set goals that can be measured in a very specific way. So, you could rework the goals above as follows:

  • “I want to lose 20lbs by August.” 
  • “I want to have enough energy to socialize with my friends once every week.” 
  • “I want to be fit enough to run a half-marathon in 12 months.” 
By setting very definitive goals, you’ll find it far easier to judge how you are doing, and see the results against the baseline you established before you began your exercise regime.

Some people shy away from setting goals over fears for their motivation if they don’t meet them. This is especially true of time specific goals, such as our example of losing 20lbs by August. That’s why it’s important to keep your goals flexible; something to aim for rather than something you have to achieve. If you only lose 17lbs by August or take two years to be able to run a half-marathon, that’s still a huge difference on your starting point, and no one could possibly say that you’ve “failed” at anything. If you miss your goal, that’s okay— you’ll still be reassured by the evidence that you’re definitely doing better than you were before.

Goals are incredibly useful for motivation, so don’t shy away from the idea of setting them. Just remember to keep a sense of perspective if you miss your intended mark, and you won’t go far wrong.

Final thoughts

As we discussed, fitness is a learning process, so if you have been making any of the mistakes above, then don’t be concerned. You can now work on fixing any problems to ensure that you get the most from your time spent working out, which will help to ensure the best results from your efforts.