Mistakes That Make Exercise Less Effective – Are You Doing Any of These?


In You Still Got It, Girl! I detail what makes a cardio and a resistance training session each effective based on your goals. This list of mistakes most commonly made is like the alter-ego of those suggestions. You might say that this list was born out of watching what we tend to default to if we don’t know. Over 30 years of watching adults in University exercise clinics, fitness centers, and listening to new customers describe what’s been their home exercise program these ring true.

The list comes with one exception. If you’re making any of these mistakes and getting results you love, have energy you love, sleeping the way you love, and your mood and health soar, don’t change it if it’s not broken. On the other hand, if you’re short on time, don’t have 100% satisfaction with your results or the way you feel, pay attention and see what you might need to tweak in 2016.

1. If you’re reading on the treadmill, or watching TV, you’re not exercising with enough intensity. 
I hope it’s clear already how reading is obviously not conducive to exercise that’s of sufficient intensity to benefit you. Neither though is sending a text while you’re walking or scrolling through your Facebook timeline. I’ve seen them all happening. Fitness centers in fact are increasingly adding the ability to surf the internet to cardio equipment to entice you to come in.

Is it better than nothing? Yes. Is it going to convince you that exercise is beneficial and worth the time and effort? Jury is out, but I think not if you have serious goals.

2. If you’re heading to the gym or the workout room at home without a plan you’re wasting time.

Every workout should have a purpose. It might be a recovery workout with light intensity. It might be intervals. When your biggest obstacle is time…. or a lack of motivation because you don’t see results … this is why you need purpose. When you know what to do: exercise doesn’t take long. When you do what is top priority: exercise gets results.

3. If you do the same thing every day of the week or even do a variety of things but repeat that week to week, your body is wiser than you.

Your body will change when it is first surprised and experiences overload. Then it adapts. Doing the same thing then doesn’t even maintain, it causes you to lose fitness. A progression is always important. It should be obvious to you even in programs you participate in. Can you see from week to week in your bootcamp that the exercise time begins to get longer and the rest time gets shorter? Can you see that the number of sets or reps changes in a way to challenge you further?

If you’re just doing variety and there isn’t any clear week to week change or increasing challenge… you may simply be entertained but not progressing to the next level. Now, if you’re in maintenance, that’s fine. A variety of ways of challenging your body if you’re happy with results now might work for you. If you’re full of energy, lack aches and pains, feeling stronger, sleeping better… it’s working well. If you hurt, can’t sleep, or exhausted from the exercise instead of exhilarated, then question what you’re doing.

4. If you always follow the rules you miss some of the best opportunities. 

Someone once told me that most of the fun in life comes from breaking the rules. She was nearly in her 90s at the time. She was talking about men. You also need to do that with exercise.

Some days you need to do small muscles first. Some days you need to get away from the routine of linear movements and lift weights in nature. Wear a backpack on a hike. Paddle a canoe. Leave the snow blower in the garage. Real life turns and twists and rotates your body. It’s good to train for life.

Every exercise at some point is functional, however. Lifting heavily to prevent bone density losses requires machines and a stable environment. That makes machine training functional. Enhancing balance so you don’t fall if you have osteoporosis makes training with free weights or in an unstable environment functional. While exercise pros are hung up on talking “functional” they forget…life is dysfunctional! So don’t follow the rules too closely.

5. You’re short on time and what you cut out or down is the warm up and the cool down.

I’ll admit, too, it’s tempting. I want to get right to moving fast and hard and vent some stress or feel like it “counted.” Yet, remind yourself that during the warm up you are increasing the ability of your body to burn fat, to make you feel more comfortable at higher levels of exercise and to do more.

During the cool down you allow your body to begin recovery before your current session is over. The older we get, even in great shape, the better we recover the more we can do. The sooner you can recover the sooner you can do the next challenging workout. Stretching is a part of that cool down and so is moving at a slower rate and lower intensity that will still enhance circulation and begin helping you reduce toxins that are released during exercise.

6. You don’t consider the recovery time between exercise sessions as important as the exercise itself.

You do not get your money’s worth from a bootcamp with more days a week of participation. You get your money’s worth with more results. Mentioned in #5 above recovery is as important as the exercise. If you’re doing four, five, or six days a week of bootcamp consecutively there is no rest and recovery.

Exercise is a breakdown activity. If at the end of the week you feel more tired, more achy, less motivated to go you’re getting signals that you need more recovery. Your ignoring signals that you will have more progress – better weight loss, more energy, better mood, with a dose of recovery at the right spot. A wisely planned active recovery day or two and at least one or two full days off a week facilitate optimal results. Elite athletes do it. Shouldn’t you?

You can get tired or you can get better.

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