If you like to work out by spending time in the gym, jogging, running, or swimming, it can be really frustrating when the results don’t match your efforts or what you think are good workout habits. Not seeing the image you desire in the mirror, achieving the time you’re trying to beat, or getting any closer to the size you’re striving for can be a real incentive to give up.
However, quitting will not only ensure you’ll never make progress, but it will also likely put you in a place where you’re worse off than you were before. It happened to me.
A lot of the time, a quick fix is pretty easy. There are things you’re likely doing during your workouts that are sabotaging your success; some bad workout habits you might not even realize you have. So being mindful of them can re-start your engine and make your goals more attainable. So take a look at some of the ways you may be sabotaging your workouts.
Bad Workout Habit #1: Not Keeping a Journal
Every time you hit the track, road, pool, or gym, you should have a notepad nearby. When you track your time, reps, strength, speed, and break time, you can clearly see where you’ve been, the progress you’ve made, and where you’re headed. If the speed of your progress has slowed down, hey, that’s totally normal. Performance tapers once your body adjusts. Your notes will show you that, and show you it’s time to get to the next level. A great place to start is with measuring your heart rate. Measure it both 15 minutes and 60 minutes after exercise to see some progress that’s typically hidden.
Bad Workout Habit #2: Not Writing Down Your Goals
Just like writing down your progress, it’s important to have realistic goals on paper. It could be shedding 20 pounds in the next four or five months, losing a pound or two a week, adding five pounds to a squat, or shaving some time off your laps. Whatever your goals are, write down both the short-term and long-term progress you wish to make. And don’t take my word for it: research shows that people who chart their goals are more likely to meet them.
Bad Workout Habit #3: Always Doing the Same Thing
I’ve heard the definition of insanity is always doing the same things and expecting different results. This couldn’t be more apt when it comes to exercise. Switch up your training—speeds, sets, repetitions, laps, diet—to overcome plateaus and encourage your body to adapt to new challenges.
Bad Workout Habit #4: Not Eating Enough
For most people, this means not eating enough protein. Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean body mass (LBM) and losing fat. If your goal is to tone up and lose the rolls, getting more protein is essential. Eating at least one gram of protein per pound of LBM is recommended.
Bad Workout Habit #5: Getting Distracted
When you’re on the treadmill or at the track, it can seem like a great time to catch up on an intriguing podcast, e-book, or sitcom. But when you’re concentrating on what you’re hearing and seeing, you’re taking focus and energy away from your exercise. When you’re working your body hard, give your mind a rest and listen to some energetic music or watch a silly sitcom that requires little focus.
Bad Workout Habit #6: Not Breathing Properly
People forget to breathe when they exercise and it can really cost them. Improper breathing deprives your muscles of the oxygen needed to function and, in turn, sabotages your performance. In the gym, it’s important to breathe out when contracting and shortening muscles (concentric motion) and in when lengthening muscles (eccentric motion). Establishing a steady breathing pattern during cardio can help regulate energy expenditure and enhance endurance and speed.
“Dominican Research Cited in Forbes Article,” Dominican University web site; http://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/dominican-research-cited-in-forbes-article, last accessed May 17, 2017.