Having been both very regular with exercise, and a fitness professional for almost 3 decades, I've naturally made plenty of mistakes. Here's 3 I made that could save you some time and effort and ensure better results;
1. Training hard all the time
In large part because I wanted to feel credible as a personal trainer, I pushed myself incredibly hard, and often. On reflection I'm not sure how I managed some of those arduous workouts on top of long work days. I believed the more intensely you exercised the better the results. With time I learnt that not only is that level of drive hard to maintain but effort doesn't precisely equal results. A more nuanced approach meant not only did I enjoy exercise more but I was more relaxed and got a better return from the time and effort I did put in. Here's 2 articles that'll give you a greater understanding around how to find the right level of effort for optimal results and to build habit: 'Over motivation- the great killer of new exercise routines' 'How hard do I need to exercise?'
2. Failing to understand how the body recovers from exercise
The idea that you don't actually get fit while exercising can initially seem illogical, well at least it did to me!
Exercise is basically the stimulus for the body to change but the actual changes or adaptation to the stimulus happens after the workout. Much of this positive change happens while resting and in particular while sleeping. This is true for strength gains, muscle growth and improvements to the cardiovascular system.
Exercise again too hard and/or too soon after a workout and there isn't an opportunity for the body to recover. Not only will you not get the benefits but you can actually go backwards with your fitness and strength.
That is what's known as over training.
Once I fully understood this concept not only did I get fitter and stronger through less effort but I also got sick less often.
Another critical aspect of recovery is eating adequate protein. Again once I was conscious of that I recovered from workouts noticeably faster and my muscles grew more.
3. Stretching a strained or injured muscle
It's generally thought that stretching is good for injury prevention and reducing muscle soreness. There is some truth to that. What I learnt the hard way though is that when a muscle is torn or strained stretching it hinders the healing process. While it may feel the right thing to stretch that injured muscle it is likely re-knitting and if you pull on it, it's not hard to imagine that your tearing apart that re knitting process. Stretching may be a necessary part of the rehab process once through the acute phase of the injury (in order to restore flexibility & help break up scar tissue) but initially resist the temptation to stretch. Unsure if you're through the acute phase of an injury? Uncertain if you've strained a muscle or just worked it? If in doubt refrain from stretching. It doesn't make sense from a risk versus reward perspective. Most of the benefits come through the cumulative effect oF regularly stretching over time. The difference 1 stretch makes is minimal, on the other hand it can be detrimental to that injury healing process, as explained. You can learn more about how best to stretch by reading this article- 'Stretching- what you really need to know' Discovered some ways you could be using your precious exercise time more effectively? Or has this triggered questions around other ways you could be exercising better? If so, get in touch and I'll do my best to answer any questions.
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