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4 Common Mistakes When Fitness Training

Common Mistakes Can Derail Even the Most Determined People

fitness trainingPeople new to exercise often make these four common mistakes that can derail their progress which often de-motivates even the most determined person. I hear from clients all the time that they are doing “all the right things” but not getting the results they expect or want. It can lead to frustration and with all the advice out there from different avenues, can often be confusing.

I’ve put together a list of common challenges my clients have had when working towards their fitness goals. Follow these tips, and they can help you get better results faster and with what seems like a lot less effort!

How to Get Better Results From Your Fitness Plan

What makes one fitness plan succeed while another one fails? Often it comes down to little mistakes that people don’t even realize they are making. I’ve been around the fitness industry for 15 years, and I see the same mistakes over and over, the best intentions in some cases cause the biggest blunders.

What makes the best workout plans ineffective? Why are you struggling when you see other people getting results? Should you work out every day? Am I overeating or adding in more calories than I am burning? Are there hidden sugars or calories in my daily diet?  Some of these questions are what create the most significant problems.

Common Mistake #1 – Nutrition – Too Much of a Good Thing is Still Too Much

There is a myth out there that when you start working out, you can eat whatever you want whenever you want. It’s true that when you start working out, you may find that you are hungrier (or in some cases “hangrier”) than usual. However, you still need to consider how many calories you are putting in and how many calories you are expending during a workout.

Overeating can be very challenging especially when you are working out every day; hunger can be a constant battle if you aren’t eating a balanced diet that includes all of the macronutrients your body needs. Many people find themselves restricting necessary nutrients such as carbohydrates (think complex not simple) and healthy fats (no more than 10% should be saturated the rest should be monounsaturated fat). We need complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to produce fuel for our bodies and to reduce unwanted body fat. When tracking client’s caloric intakes through diet journals, I see them restricting themselves and ending up so hangry that they end up satisfying their post-exercise hunger with high-calorie foods or even with too much healthy food. Yes, believe me, you can eat too much of a good thing. There are a whopping 823 calories in a cup of whole almonds and 322 calories in one avocado.

Take away suggestion? Track your food in an app until you get a handle on how many calories are in the food you are consuming during your day. Ensure the app also tracks macronutrients. It’s always a good idea to see a sports nutritionist who can give you specific calorie intake and a macronutrient breakdown based on your activities. Or take a sports nutrition course and learn more about eating for performance. A 30% fat, 30% protein and, 40% complex carbohydrate split is a good place to start for the average person until you get more specific details to your fitness plan.

Common Mistake #2 – I don’t have enough time!”

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (CPAG) for people 18 to 64 suggests to achieve better health, you should accumulate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. This is approximately 20 to 25 minutes a day of brisk walking or jogging. Considering there are 1440 minutes in your day; that works out to less than 1% of the day (45 minutes would still be only 3% of the day).

Why do I bring this up? Many people say they don’t have time to work out. The reality is that your health is your wealth -a sick body won’t take you anywhere. Taking some time every day to focus on your physical health will help you achieve your goals (reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, reduce pain, increase an overall sense of well-being).  The CPAG also indicate that more physical activity provides more significant health and fitness benefits.

Does this mean you should be doing the same thing every day? Well of course not! Doing the same thing day after day, will increase your risk of overtraining injuries and plateauing. You need to keep your body guessing! Cross-training is the best way to condition muscle groups, develop new skills, and reduce boredom. Cross training allows you to vary the stress placed on specific muscles or the cardiovascular system.

Take away suggestion? Are you new to exercise? Hire an elite certified personal trainer to develop appropriate training cycles ( Periodization training – Macrocycles, Mesocycles and Microcycles). Make sure your fitness plan has a variety of activities with varying intensities and session lengths. Mix up resistance training with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) days or do a longer duration, but reduced intensity hike on a day off. Different activities and training zones have various benefits to the body.  Incorporating more variety into your schedule means you can work out every day and avoid burnout.

Common Mistake #3 – Unbalanced Fitness Plans Create Unbalanced Bodies

All aspects of fitness need to be included throughout the week. The plan should include cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility training so the body stays in complete balance. Cardiovascular training burns tons of calories, reduces stress, helps to lose or maintain weight, helps to relieve muscle soreness, and strengthens your heart. Resistance training tones the muscles, helps with metabolism and increases muscle mass and of course strength. It’s important to create a balanced resistance training program so you don’t end up with joint imbalances which can produce injuries. Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to always stretch, stretch and stretch some more! Flexibility training also helps to balance or rebalance the joints which can decrease the chance of injuries. Yoga, which is fantastic for flexibility training, also provides you with an opportunity to relax and add some meditation into your busy life. Make sure that your high-intensity workouts are relatively short and that you include some easy recovery days during the week to give your body a chance to recuperate and rebuild.

Take away suggestion? Cardiovascular training should be done 3 – 5 days a week with a variety of heart rate ranges and time performed. Resistance training should be included 2 – 3 days a week; if you are new to exercise always start with muscular endurance training (1- 3  sets of 12 – 15 reps). Circuit training with short bursts of intense cardio training is a great way to save time and push the boundaries of your fitness level. Make sure that your high-intensity workouts are relatively short and that you include some easy recovery days during the week to give your body a chance to recuperate and rebuild. Your workout should always end with at least 5 – 10 minutes of stretching or on a day when you have more time try a relaxing yoga class. Anyone new to exercise should hire a certified personal trainer to develop a program that will produce results that fit with your goals and reduce your risk of injury.

Common Mistake #4 – Using the Wrong Supplements and Sports Drinks  

Are you fueling your body before and after workouts with pre-workout, sports drinks or protein powders (to name but a few)? Are you closely monitoring how many calories or sugar your supplement contains?  You could be working out to just get rid of the calories you put in through your supplement.

Most people working on living a healthier lifestyle stop drinking pop due to its high sugar content (we all know by now that sugar is not good for us). A can of pop contains 39 g of sugar but what most people don’t see is that most sports drinks contain 34 g of sugar! Research published in October 2012 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed that higher protein intake may lead to weight loss and helps with muscle repair as well as reductions in metabolic disease compared to low-protein diets. Many protein powders also contain a lot of added sugar, which decreases or reverses some of the beneficial effects of increasing your protein intake.  In other words, you are probably erasing the calorie deficit that you just earned.

What does that mean? Talk to a nutritionist about what you should be drinking or eating pre- and post-workout. In some cases, athletes will need a sports drink before working out, but for the average person, water is the best choice for hydration for activities lasting under an hour. You should be having a balanced snack or small meal about 1 – 2 hours before your workout to help fuel your body.

Post workout, another snack or small meal should be consumed, depending on how much energy you expend during your workout. You will need to refuel and repair much differently after a high-intensity workout or marathon than you would after a stroll in the woods. Protein shakes are great after a hard workout to help with the repairing process. However, some protein powders are loaded with sugars and sweeteners – look for words like dextrose, fructose, glucose polymers, sucrose and maltodextrin. When looking for a protein powder if you find these near the top of the ingredients list, it’s most likely loaded with sugar. Artificial sweeteners aren’t any better for you for the most part, so if you see sucralose, xylitol, acesulfame-k and aspartame on the ingredient list then pick another product. Stevia is a great alternative and helps to satisfy your sweet tooth without killing all the hard work you just put in.

Take away suggestion?  Buy unsweetened protein powder and add your own healthier sweetening options such a stevia or frozen unsweetened fruit (measure how much fruit you put in and stick with berries). Fruits are also sources of sugar, but they are generally less processed than ingredients found in most protein powders and therefore will often be more nutritious.

Other healthier options include honey or maple syrup in small amounts. Invest in a visit with an accredited sports nutritionist to discuss options for fueling the body and post workout repair.

End thoughts and suggestions – Exercise is a necessary part of your daily routine. Start by adding in 15 to 20 minutes of activity and you will see many health benefits if you participate in physical activity every day. Hiring a personal trainer will help you to achieve specific goals such as weight loss, increased muscle mass or tone and decreased pain or balance of the muscle and joints (amongst many other goals). Proper nutrition can’t be overlooked – you simply can not out train a bad nutrition plan. Most people need help with creating a healthy eating plan that will bring them the results they desire. Making just a few small adjustments in your life will make all the difference to how you feel and what you see in the mirror!

Happy Training!

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL, Clinical Exercise Specialist, Pharm Tech

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