My job allows me to speak with women every single day who all want pretty similar things when it comes to their health and wellness.
They want to look good, feel good, lose weight, get strong, tone up, get leaner, feel more confident, and ultimately live longer.
All stellar goals, but the problem is that most of us want to achieve these outcomes as fast as possible, and it can feel super frustrating when the results take longer to show up than we ideally want!
I am not a believer in quick fixes. I’m *that* coach who tells her clients that patience and consistent effort will have a much larger payoff than any shake, pill, or gimmicky program out there. Everyone else is out there touting their 7-day cleanse, and I’m just like “yep, takes time, too bad!”
However, I do think that there are some common mistakes that people tend to make in their fitness routines: mistakes that actually could be slowing down progress toward looking great, feeling great, and seeing results.
Of course nutrition, sleep, and stress management all come in to play, but if those areas are pretty under control and you still aren’t seeing the results you desire, here are five common fitness mistakes that you might not even realize you are making.
Five Common Fitness Mistakes You Might Be Making
1. You aren’t strength training.
In order to see physique change, whether that be fat loss or putting on some muscle (the combination of the two also known as toning, ladies!), there needs to be a strength training component in your fitness regimen.
When I ask clients during their initial consults to describe their current exercise routine to me, 95% of the time I hear something like “well, I run a few times a week because it burns the most calories, and if I don’t go running then I’ll take a Zumba class or go on the elliptical.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these choices, and they each have their time and place, but if a lean and toned physique is the goal, there needs to be some muscle to begin with, yes? That’s where strength training comes in. Plus, the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn when it’s resting. If you are ONLY doing steady state cardio, then your body stops burning calories after the workout is done. Womp, womp.
If you are currently only doing cardio, then it’s time to add some heavy squats, hinges, presses, and pulls into your routine! Of course keep in mind that the word heavy is relative: bodyweight squats will be heavy to someone who has never done a squat in their life, squats with ten pound weights will be heavy to someone who only uses five-pound weights, etc.
Another thing to keep in mind is that strength training can be incorporated in many different ways. For example, if you do not have access to dumbbells, you can get a solid strength training session in with a variety of resistance bands!
2. You aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.
It’s important to make sure you are consistently challenging yourself so that your body has to constantly adapt in order to keep up with the demands that you place on it. If you do the same exercises, at the same pace, with the same load, without changing a thing, it’s going to be preeetttyyyy hard to see progress after a bit.
You can progress exercises in many ways beyond simply adding weight, some of which include varying your sets and reps, changing up your grip, playing with tempo, switching up incline/decline, rest times, stance, and more.
Another key factor in how hard you are pushing yourself is to make sure you are bringing the intensity Sure, there are going to be days where you go through the motions of your workout just to get it done, and that’s totally fine. But for the majority of your workouts you should be ready to get uncomfortable, sweat, and burn out those muscles. Not dilly dally around the gym, checking your phone, etc.
3. You don’t take rest days.
Another reason you may not be seeing your ideal results is that you aren’t taking any days off from working out! Rest days are what allow your muscles the chance to rebuild and recover properly.
During an intense workout, especially one that involves resistance training, you apply a stress stimulus to your body that breaks down the fibers and connective tissue in your muscles. This breakdown is actually in the form of microscopic muscle tears. What comes after the workout itself, however, is your body’s response to the stress you just put on it. Giving your body time to rest between training sessions will allow it to repair the tissue damage and get stronger. This delicate balance of stressing the body with training (to a point) and then allowing it to recover and adapt (to a point) is what actually allows you to get fitter, what helps your body work more efficiently during training days, and of course what helps prevent injury.
It’s so easy to get caught up in doing more, more, more, but try allowing yourself 1-2 recovery days a week and see if your body responds. That doesn’t mean you have to be a couch potato: you can still go for leisure walks, hop on the elliptical at a low-moderate pace just to move, or do play type of activities like paddleboarding or kayaking!
4. You constantly fall into the all or nothing trap.
Ahh, my favorite. When life gets in the way, and your workout can’t go perfectly to plan, how do you respond? Do you throw in the towel? Is your fitness the first thing to go if you have to stay late at work, if your kid has to stay home unexpectedly from school, if you are traveling and away from your usual routine, etc.?
Or do you say “something is better than nothing” and squeeze in what you can, where you can, how you can? Five minute workout in your hotel room in your pajamas, 20 minute workout at the playground while your kids play, you get the idea.
This never-ending pursuit of perfection is, in my opinion, one of the biggest things holding people back from achieving the health they desire, and it’s why I’ve centered my coaching philosophy around #AntiPerfectFitness. So that when life gets in the way, you can get creative and stay consistent, even when things aren’t perfect.
5. You’re spending too much time in the gym.
Finally, another common culprit of physique change simply not happening is spending far too much time on your workouts themselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s 90 minutes on cardio machines, 90 minutes following a weightlifting program, or an excessive combination of group exercise classes up the wazoo on top of running on the treadmill and lifting weights to boot. It’s too long.
More doesn’t equal better, better equals better. If it seems like this statement is in direct opposition to number two, it’s important to understand that duration and intensity are NOT the same thing. The shorter the duration, the more intensity you will be able to bring because that’s how the body works!
If you are regularly strength training in some capacity, pushing your intensity in the right ways, giving yourself permission to take rest days, and not falling victim to the all or nothing trap, then you do NOT need to spend hours in the gym in order to see results. Your workouts can be 30 minutes or less, and you will see more changes than silly Sally running around the gym like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do it all.
Readers, let’s chat! What are your main fitness goals right now? Are you happy with your progress and results? Are you making any of these fitness mistakes or have you at some point in the past? What other fitness mistakes would you add to this list?