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?

Married to My Workout

I remember reading something in a magazine about losing weight that really stuck with me for some reason. It said “Don’t get married to your workout.” Basically this means change things up as much as possible. Don’t do the same workout every day. Try new exercises, increase the weight and resistance, change the mileage, try a different activity–anything.

When I read that article I scoffed. What I was doing was working. It worked well. I lost weight, I kept it off, I was getting stronger and faster. I was definitely getting a fitness level that I was proud of. And I liked what I was doing: I loved swimming and wasn’t going to reduce it.

In the end, I did end up changing some things around. Previously my swim sessions were 3 days a week. I was finding that I didn’t have enough time for other activities and reduced that to 2 days a week. It’s been that way for years now and as summer has arrived and I need to increase my cycling miles, I’ve reduced it to 1 day a week. But that’s not all–my swimming sessions were the same. I was most definitely married to my routine. I had three different swim routines that I liked to do and rotated between them but there wasn’t much variation beyond that. Was I doing intervals? Not as often as I should have been. What does this lead to? Plateaus.

When I first started doing a serious weight lifting program when I had to stop running for awhile, I lost weight almost immediately. In that first month I lost 5 pounds and several inches. It had been years since I lost 5 pounds in one month. In the two years I’ve been weight lifting I haven’t seen a change like that since.

I’ve been in a rut lately with my workouts. All winter long I was focusing on my weight lifting, swimming 2 days a week and going to spin class once a week. Now that the weather is better my goal is to bike to work 3 days a week. So far I’ve only managed 2 days but that’s partly weather related. Doing 66 miles a week (3 commutes) would be a major shake up to my routine. I’m looking forward to it and I won’t lie–a little part of me is hoping this change will jump start some weight loss.

When Michael was consistently biking every day to work he lost a lot of weight. Granted, he’s a man and they seem to have it easier when it comes to melting the fat, but I REALLY hope I see some movement on the scale if I’m doing 66 miles a week!

I HATE changing my workout routine! It’s so comfortable. It feels familiar. I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss by sticking to my schedule. But it’s time. I MUST change things up!

So how did I change things up recently?

Mileage, baby, mileage. In one week I was able to get my biking miles up thanks to starting the week off with a nearly 40 mile ride. The 40 mile ride was pretty good, at least for most of it and only a struggle those last 10 miles. Happily, I had no soreness the next day. It was almost as if I had done nothing!

Wednesday:

A few days later, I biked to work. I was running late that morning so I stepped it up and went faster than I normally do. I also changed up my routine a bit–I changed my route to avoid that intersection that makes me crazy every time. The new route was so much better–a tad longer, but so much better! Morning Stats: 547 calories burned.

It was a hot ride home. I was a bit sore from the previous day’s gym session but not cycling sore from my 40 miles. I had my eye on the prize: would I be able to do 80 miles this week??

I was doing well and then as soon as I hit the entrance of the Springwater trail near downtown, I heard a loud pop and then I fishtailed to the side of the trail. Yep. Tire exploded. Literally. It wasn’t quite as scary as the first time it happened, but it still sucked. Thankfully it didn’t happen downtown in traffic or somewhere I could have gotten hurt.

I pulled off into the shade and texted my Knight in Shining Armor. We are currently completely out of tubes so even if I had the savvy to change my bike tire, I didn’t have anything to change it to. Also lame.

I’d barely gone 2 miles when it happened. I was bummed. I stood in the shade and waited for Michael to pick me up. It was a disappointing ending to my day and cut my training short for the rest of the week.

Total mileage for the day cut short: 14.24

Total miles for this training week: 50.84

Total miles for the last 7 days: 73.44

Sigh! Here’s to next week being better.

QUESTION: Are you married to your workout and if so, how do you change it? Can you change a bike tire?