Before you hit the gym again, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you rest enough?
Are you focused on keeping to a fad diet rather than a balanced one?
Do you care more about your form, or on the number of reps you can do?
Whether you’re just starting out on your fitness journey or you’re an old hat at this, you could still be making mistakes in your workouts.
If you’re looking for a little help, personal trainers and Bulk ambassadors Hayley Madigan and Alex Crockford have shared the top fitness errors people tend to make and how you can fix them going forward.
1 – You’re doing too much at once
Feeling motivated is great, but it’s important to remember to take things one step at a time.
Alex said: ‘When you’re super motivated, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of wanting to change everything – training, nutrition, lifestyle etc. For some people, this can be OK, but for most of us, it’s not sustainable.
‘The best way to make changes to your fitness regime is to tackle a small number of habits at a time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed when other life aspects catch up with you. Focus on achieving one goal first, and then tackle the next.’
2 – You’re not resting enough
It can be tempting to push yourself but don’t forget that you’re only human, and rest is essential.
Hayley said: ‘You may think lifting weights every day = growing. But – muscles grow at rest, NOT during training – so recovery and refuelling is vital if you want to grow.
‘Less is often more when it comes to building muscle, so don’t hinder your gains by not giving yourself adequate rest time. When you lift weights, you are creating microtears in your muscle, which only repair at rest to create growth.
‘Adding in an extra rest day per week to start with – or splitting your training week up with a planned recovery day or two – will be the perfect way to benefit from those intense training days.’
3 – You’re focused on short-term gains
With getting and staying fit, don’t forget the process is a marathon, not a sprint.
Alex said: ‘We would all love to achieve our goals overnight, however, it’s just not realistic. We often forget that when we’re in the process of getting fit, we’re on the journey for 99.9% of the time.
‘It’s important to understand this mindset and realise that real results take time, and a key part of the success is actually to enjoy the journey every day.’
4 – You’re not eating enough
No matter what your fitness goals are, getting enough food is essential.
‘When we train,’ said Hayley, ‘and more specifically when we weight train, our muscles tear (this is a good thing) but they only rebuild stronger and recover fully when we refuel with the correct nutrients.
‘Protein is vital for repairing and rebuilding the muscle tears and in order to become stronger and recover 100% we need to consume a sufficient amount of protein every day.
‘Try consuming 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight to start with then slowly increase to 1.5g, especially if you train often.’
5 – You’re training without a plan or goal
Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve on your fitness journey, it’s best to have some kind of plan in place that you can stick to.
‘Working out with different methods, different weights, and different exercises is, of course, better than nothing,’ said Alex, ‘but the best results come from having a plan to follow that suits your lifestyle and takes into account progressive overload.
‘A plan also gives you the means to track your progress so that you are able to build upon each session, week by week and month by month.’
6 – You’re too focused on how much you lift rather than how you lift
Your form needs to be your ‘first priority’, otherwise you risk hurting yourself.
Hayley said: ‘Your technique should be what you focus on, rather than the number on the weight you’re lifting. If you’re more concerned about trying to out-lift your gym partner than whether or not your technique is good then you may put yourself at risk of a serious injury – especially when deadlifting.
‘Always fix your form first – you will make more gains and increase your strength if you concentrate on your form first. I’d recommend recording yourself and watching this back, so you can double-check you’re doing it right.’
7 – You’re forgetting the importance of sleep
There’s more to getting fit than just the workouts themselves – not only do you need to eat right, but you need to sleep right too.
Alex said: ‘It’s what we do outside of the training session with our rest, recovery, sleep and nutrition where we are able to repair the damage from the workout and make fitness gains.
Sleep is especially important, for your physical health, and your mental health. A good sleep is a time when we recover and will allow you to feel much more energised, and motivated to hit those goals.
‘So, ensure that a good eight hours becomes as important to you as a workout.’
8 – You’re focused more on cardio than your nutrition
Cardio is good for you, but, depending on your goals, you might need to focus less on that and more on what you’re eating.
‘If weight loss is your goal,’ said Hayley, ‘you will make more progress if you concentrate more on your food intake rather than overdoing cardio.
‘Cardio is great for cardiovascular health and overall health but weight loss comes down to calories in vs calories out. So, if you’re running a 5k every day but eating more calories than you’re burning, you will not only be overworking your body, but you likely still won’t reach your goal.
‘Try increasing your daily expenditure by moving more, walking to work and back, and trying new active hobbies like paddleboarding or bouldering.
‘Instead of focusing on how many miles you run or the amount of time you stay on the Stairmaster, focus more on your nutrition and upping your daily movement.’
9 – You overcomplicate what you eat
However, while your diet is an important thing to keep in mind, you don’t have to overthink it.
Alex said: ‘Stop looking for a diet, as the most successful way to achieve a healthier, fitter life is to fuel your body with a range of whole foods and nutrient-filled goodness – with a balance of proteins, carbs and fats.’
10 – You’re not doing exercise you enjoy
The aim of the game isn’t to suffer until you get the results you want – you should be enjoying yourself too.
‘All too often people do classes and workouts that they hate doing, and as a result, struggle to bring themselves to work out,’ said Hayley.
‘There are so many ways we can move our bodies, and so many ways to achieve our goals, so don’t feel restricted to doing any exercises you don’t enjoy doing. You’ll never feel motivated this way.’
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