Avoid These Common Exercise Mistakes, Myths and Misconceptions

Clear up any confusion and let these workout tips improve your workout routine.

Experience has shown that even seasoned fitness fanatics sometimes hold onto certain exercise misconceptions and make some pretty common mistakes. The mistakes listed below are not necessarily harmful (though some are), but can sure lead to a lot of wasted time. The workout tips should help solve any problems.

Some of these misconceptions might have prevented you from starting a fitness program in the first place.

Common Mistake: Failure to set goals.

Ok, when’s the last time you set off in your car without a destination in mind? Probably never. But when was the last time you had a workout without a clear goal in mind? Probably always!

Having a roadmap and a goal in clear site is a critical step in fitness and weight loss success. How will you know if you are going the right direction? How will you know when you get there?

Workout tips…Not only having a goal in mind but tracking your progress in a journal will help ensure you get there.

A journal, detailing each workout, will ensure you can actually see your improvements and will maintain your motivation. More on this later.

Common Misconception: No Pain, No Gain.

This is actually a dangerous truth. The building of muscle is fascilitated through the creation of tiny tears in the muscle fibres by working them beyond their current capacity. This is why you hurt after a rigorous workout. The muscles repair themselves by adding a little tissue at the site of the tear.

Workout tips…This is a normal process, but must be done gradually with sufficient rest periods to allow proper healing.

Two problems are common here with beginning exercisers.

Working out when you are in pain, without allowing sufficient rest time to heal can cause long lasting damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments. Do this and you won’t be able to work out anymore and may find yourself in constant and long lasting pain.

Even if you haven’t caused long lasting damage, if you wake up the next day after a workout and can hardly drag your aching body out of bed because everything hurts, you are going to be less motivated to workout at all. Nothing will kill an exercise program faster than constant pain!

Common Myth: Weight training makes Women Bulky.

Women simply don’t produce enough of the hormone testosterone to build muscle mass the way that men do. If you see an over-muscled woman in a body building competition, chances are that she has used a synthetic testosterone such as anabolic steroids.

Weight training for a woman will strengthen and tone muscle, burn fat and increase metabolism, not build mass.

Common Mistake: Sacrificing Quality for Quantity

Be sure to check out our section on exercise technique for proper form. When you wish to increase the number of reps of a certain exercise, and strengthen the corresponding muscles, instead of simply forcing yourself to do a little more each time, try this.

Workout tips…Decrease the number of reps in a set but increase the number of sets. Back off to half your usual number of reps but add a couple of more sets. You will be less fatigued and will gain strength in your fast-twitch muscles.

You might also try this…

For your final set of an exercise, rather than using the same weight, drop back to about 50% of that weight and perform reps to fatigue. Studies have shown that this technique can increase strength rapidly.

Another way to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an exercise is to speed up the lifting phase during a repetition. That is, for example with a bicep curl using a weight you would normally be able to do 10 reps with, to lift the weight as fast as possible and let it back down at a regular rate. Try quick sets of 5 rather than 10 reps. This puts more tension on the muscle using the same weight and can be the blast that works you through a plateau.

Common Mistake: Over-Emphasizing Strengths

It’s human nature to focus on what you are good at, but when trying to get fit, you should instead be focusing on your weak points in order to balance things.

Workout tips…For example, if your upper body is better developed than your lower body, make sure you assign one day per week to work only on this area.

Common Mistake: Not Enough Variety

Boredom not only numbs the brain but will diminish the effects of exercise.

The effectiveness of any program depends on the degree to which it challenges your body. The problem is that familiar stressors are less challenging because the body get used to them. Each successive repetition of an exercise is less effective.

Workout tips…So shake it up a little. Try a different variation of the same exercise. Be sure you are not ignoring weaker areas. If you are using a machine for a particular routine, try free weights instead- you will notice the difference.

Common Mistake: Lack of Diversity

This might sound like a contradiction to the previous point about variety, but getting stronger requires repetition so don’t change your routine every workout. For example, if you reach a new level with a target muscle and then switch to another muscle entirely for too long a period of time, you begin to lose the first gains you made.

Workout tips…One way to strike a good balance between diversity and continuity is to change half of your exercises every 4 weeks. Also be sure to regularly utilize complex exercises which use multiple joints such as rowing, squats, deadlifts and lunges to maintain the levels attained.

Don’t let those muscles forget and remember that it is easier to maintain them than to rebuild them!

Common Mistake: Improper Technique (Poor Biomechanics)

It is very common to see people (usually young men) attempting to lift or move more weight than they can reasonable handle. They try to work beyond their capacity in order to blast on the muscle. While it is important to strive to do better, using good technique will do the job more efficiently and with less chance of injury.

Workout tips…Generally speaking, if you’re lifting a weight correctly, you’ll feel tension through the target muscle but no pain or discomfort in the associated joint.

Your movement should be precise and consistent from rep to rep, almost like you are a machine.

If you find yourself “shaking and quaking” under the weight, it’s probably too heavy relative to your current abilities.

If it looks wrong, it probably is. For example, if the bar isn’t parallel to the floor when you squat, deadlift, or bench press, it means you’re applying more force with one limb than the other.