health

NAT: 5 exercise habits you need to break. Stat.

Natalia Hawk.

Look, if you’re exercising at all, you get two thumbs-up from me. I would give you three thumbs-up if I could – because I know how hard it is to get off the couch and go to the gym/go for a run/drag yourself to boot camp/do whatever it is that you’re doing.

But I have some bad news… In that you might have developed some bad habits along the way. Bad exercise habits that are probably hindering your efforts and ensuring that you don’t progress as quickly as you might hope.

Here are 5 of the not-so-great exercise habits that people tend to develop, and why you should get rid of them.

1. Doing the same workout over and over again

It’s so very easy to get to the gym and do the same routine that a personal trainer put together for you one time: 15 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes on the treadmill, 10 on the stationary bike, some free weights, one of the leg machines… You don’t have to think about it and you know it’s a decent workout. And you know how to work all the machines, so there’s absolutely no potential for embarrassment in front of all the other fitness fanatics.

I have sad news for you, my routine-loving friend. Gym routines are bad for you if you do them over and over again. In fact, it’s not so great if you only stick to one kind of exercise, regardless of what it is – running or paddle-boarding or martial arts or whatever.

This is largely because you’re working out the same muscles, over and over. Your muscles get used to it. And as a result, you’re no longer getting fitter – you’re just working out the same old, bored muscles, over and over again. Additionally, you’re more likely to injure yourself, which really isn’t helpful for anyone.

By mixing up your workout routine, regardless of what it is, you’re more likely to get a better all-body workout and – bonus – far less likely to get bored of the same old deal. Sign up for something awesome that you’ve never heard of – Pound, or Barre Body, or Paddleboard Yoga – or sign up for a special event and try doing some cross-training for it. It’ll be fun. Promise.

2. Not bothering with weight training and just focusing on cardio

“If you’re not incorporating some weights into your workout routine, you’re doing yourself and your fitness a serious disservice.”

I know it can be scary over there. I KNOW. Lots of complicated-looking machines and lots of intimidating-looking men standing protectively over said machines. I avoided the weights section for many years, just because I was terrified of making an idiot of myself in front of the kind of people who could work the weight machines in their sleep.

But weight training is so good. So good. If you’re not incorporating some weights into your workout routine, you’re doing yourself and your fitness a serious disservice.

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If you’re really panicky or lost, try going to a ladies-only gym and chatting to one of their staff about the machines and free weights – they’ll talk you through it so you won’t be scared to give it a go.

3. Wasting precious workout time

I want you all to become well-oiled machines when it comes to working out. No mucking around, no procrastination, no second-guessing yourself. When you’re working out, you should give 110% of yourself for a limited period of time.

This means: have your gym bag organised, packed and ready to go, so you’re not rushing back to the house to grab socks/headphones/the all-essential towel. Know what you’re doing at the gym, so you’re not standing around idly Googling workouts once you get there.

Leave Facebook and emails alone for an hour, and text back when you’re off the treadmill, not when you’re halfway up a “hill” and need to pause the machine. All of this means that you can finish your workout sooner, focus on it completely, and get back to your television and season three of Games of Thrones sooner.

4. Having bad form

It’s all very well and good to do a certain amount of squats/planks/push-ups every day. It’s not so good if you aren’t doing them properly. Check out this post if you’re worried you’re not doing it right, or consult a PT for more information.

5. Recognising when it’s time to gear it up/give it up

It’s important to listen to your body, above all else. It’s your best source of information for telling you what you need to be doing and when you ought to be doing it.

If you’re doing a workout and it’s feeling a little easy? It probably is too easy. Gear it up a little – going harder is what will get you results. Taking the easy road might be nice and less sweaty, but you’re not really doing yourself any favours. Apologies.

On the other hand – if you’re doing a workout and it’s way, way harder than normal? Take care of yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If your body is really telling you to stop… please stop. And consult a doctor if in any doubt whatsoever.

P.S. – there is such a thing as working out too much.

6. Biting your nails

I jest, I jest. Bite your nails all you want. Just not after you’ve been touching the gym machines. Sweaty. Germy. Eurgh.

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