Break Your Bad Workout Habits

This post is just in time for all the people who will soon be flooding the gym for New Year’s Resolutions! And a good reminder for us old folks that have been going a long time (and probably picking up some bad habits along the way).  It’s easy to get into a rut and hopefully this post reminds all of us (me included) to break some of those bad habits. I recognize a few of these in me.

Just Doing Cardio

I used to be a cardio junkie. I hated weight lifting. I would force myself once in awhile to do a quick circuit around the weight machines and it would be boring, I’d feel like it was a waste of my time and I’d never see any changes in my body or strength.

After a few different injuries kind of forced me to take it easy on the cardio, I had to find something else to do so I could still work out. I started lifting weights on a consistent, serious basis and I finally “got it.” I started to LIKE lifting weights. It wasn’t just a boring slog. Seeing a difference made me realize if I stuck with it, I COULD see a change and it wasn’t a waste of my time.

I liked feeling stronger. I liked that I could lift things easily in my day to day life simply because I was lifting weights on a regular basis. It was empowering! Check out this old post that is still a great one: Reshaping Your Body with Weight Lifting.

So if you want to see some CHANGE in your body, mix it up. Get off that elliptical and try doing some body weight exercises or add some free weights into your routine.

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Unrealistic Expectations

You have to start somewhere. If that’s walking/jogging in intervals before you can RUN, that’s ok. If it’s lifting 15 pounds to start with, while the muscles guys in the gym are lifting 100 pounds next to you, who cares? You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Having expectations that are unrealistic will just cause disappointment and probably injury!

 

Phoning It In

GET OFF THE PHONE! Get off the phone! SERIOUSLY PEOPLE get off your phone and work out! I see this in my gym ALL THE TIME and it makes me crazy. People doing nothing and fucking off with their phones. Sitting on weight machines, not lifting weights, but playing with their phones. Taking up equipment and space goofing off.

A tip for this: make a playlist ahead of time and stop messing with your phone. You don’t need to be on Facebook or texting or whatever else. Focus on the task at hand: getting FIT.

Another tip: write out your workout routine for the day and follow that. I have a little notebook that I take to the gym with my weight lifting routine already mapped out for me. I have 5-8 different routines and I mix them up and sometimes I change things around once I get to the gym, but overall I follow it. It keeps me focused and keeps me from wandering around the gym aimlessly.

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Overtraining/Not Resting

I can tell when I’m starting to get into the over-training territory. I feel tired, run-down, burned out and I often end up getting sick. That’s a clear sign it’s time to rest.

When I was going to the Warrior Room, I went 2-3x a week for over a year. It was great and I loved it and I loved the progress I was seeing. But last December I decided to take a month off. I was starting to have some aches and pains, mostly in my joints. I wanted to avoid an overuse injury and I felt like I might be on the way to tendinitis in my elbows or something. I decided to take a month off and do something different, then go back.

It was a good idea and in theory it should have worked. After a month I still didn’t feel quite ready to go back. I had managed to avoid overuse injuries but I was still mentally not ready to get back into something so rigorous or intense. I decided to give it a few more weeks–then I got sick, then I had some back issues…then I got pregnant. So…I haven’t been back since. But in theory that break would have worked (as it had in the past) if those extenuating circumstances hadn’t popped up.

Check out some posts on the topic:

Why Recover?

Addicted to Exercise

Are You Overtraining?

Improper Fueling

Not drinking enough water before, during and after a workout is bad bad bad. Take a water bottle with you and drink it all!

Drinking sugary “sports” drinks when it’s not necessary. I see this one in my gym all the time, too. Except it’s usually big guys lifting weights carrying around a GALLON jug of some kind of juice drink. I have no idea what it is or how many calories are in it, but think long and hard about your Gatorade sports drink…are you burning 400 calories in the gym but then drinking 150 calories worth of sugar?? What’s the point??

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The Long And Slow

I am so guilty of this at times! When I was a cardio junkie I’d go to the gym and spend the entire time doing a long and slow cardio workout like the elliptical or running on the treadmill or the stairmaster. Just slogging along, no variation, my heart rate staying pretty steady in the same range.

Mix in some HIIT-type workouts instead. You can still do the elliptical but mix it up with the different programs the machine has. Hill climbs, hard resistance, etc. If you are doing the spin bike, add in intervals of really hard standing climbs to get your heart rate up instead of the steady same old same old.

 

Doing The Same Exact Thing

What I miss most about going to the Warrior Room (besides the people and the fun classes, of course) was the variety of the workouts. It was a mixture of weight lifting with kettle bells and intense HIIT cardio. I loved the fact that it was different every single time I was there. I was able to see progress in my strength after each week of going to classes because my body was adapting and getting stronger doing different things.

When I am Married to My Workout I don’t see progress like I should. I feel stagnant and stuck and wonder why the scale isn’t budging or why I’m still doing the same thing every time. It’s also boring! Variety is key.

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Not Planning Ahead/Being Inconsistent

I schedule my workouts on my Google calendar like I do appointments. Sure, I can be flexible sometimes and move things around if needed, but for the most part I stick to that schedule. It makes it harder for me to skip a workout. It’s on my calendar, after all.

In a similar vein, a bad workout habit is being inconsistent with your workouts. I think variety in fitness is CRUCIAL. Crucial for your body to avoid overuse injuries and burnout; crucial for your mind to avoid boredom; crucial for your body to not get used to doing the same exact workout every time (see above). But at the same time, not having a consistent schedule/routine with your workout can mean no progress.

An example of this is weight lifting. If you only lift weights once a week, you aren’t going to see any differences. You won’t see progress in your body shape or strength. And it will feel like you’re wasting your time. But having a routine that steadily increases the reps and weights you are lifting shows you are making progress. When I was consistently lifting weights 3x a week I had a different weight lifting routine each time, but I was working the same muscles (just in different ways) and I could SEE and feel the progress I was making. Doing kettlebell swings with the same 25 pound bell each time, I realized it was too easy. So I went up in weight. Then after awhile 30 pounds was too easy. I would switch around doing MORE REPS with 30 pounds, or I’d do less reps at 35 pounds. I could see and feel a difference.

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What are some bad fitness habits you want to break?

5 Responses

  1. Love all these tips! And yes, January will be busy in the gyms. I definitely need to switch things up – but lately I’ve been loving this 20 minute HIIT on the treadmill – one minute walk, one minute run, and each minute run I do faster and faster – I used to be a sprinter back in the day (well, 50+ pounds ago and 35 years ago!) but I love sprinting and I can usually hold it for a minute 😀

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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  2. I never understand the people carrying around the gallon of water at the gym!

    Now that I do the StrongLifts app for weights, I am now one of those people on the phone at the weights! It’s heavy weights with 5 sets of 5 with a rest of 90-180 seconds in between sets. I use the app to track the rest time and what # set I’m on. And maybe check Instagram while I wait. LOL

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