Stick To The Workout Plan: 6 Mistakes That Can Stop You From Reaching Your Goals

Workout Mistakes
Six common mistakes that could be ruining your workouts. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Fitness is not just about lifting weights or eating the right food; fitness is a lifestyle that requires adherence for more than your one to two hours a day at the gym. Just because you hit the gym first thing in the morning, that doesn’t mean you can put clean eating on the back burner to go grab a pizza with French fries and a coke. So before you go blaming your lack of progress at the gym on genetics or the wrong workout plan, let’s take a look at some common mistakes that could be hindering your fitness goals:

1. Smoking

Now, clearly, smoking is not an ideal habit for marathon runners or any athlete who depends on their endurance. But did you know smoking can also hamper muscle growth following a tough workout? Each time a smoker inhales cigarette smoke he is also inhaling over 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco, including carbon monoxide, which binds to red blood cells, displacing oxygen, and preventing oxygen delivery to muscles and tissue. Not only does this decline in oxygen delivery reduce physical endurance, but it also increases lactic acid buildup, which leads to a spike in post-workout soreness.

2. Alcohol

Similar to smoking, alcohol tends to have a negative impact on various parts of our body, and that includes our muscles. When alcohol enters the bloodstream our blood vessels widen, causing a greater amount of blood flow to the skin. This also leads to a decline in blood flow to muscles, including the heart. Consuming too much alcohol often leads to muscle weakness and deterioration due to lack of efficient blood flow.

“Alcohol brings a plethora of unwanted effects with it,” Maik Wiedenbach, personal trainer and NYU professor of exercise, told Medical Daily. “First off, it inhibits your sleep due to the insulin spikes during the night so you’ll arrive less rested for your workout. Add dehydration that comes with alcohol consumption and you have a lethal mix for a bad workout. On top of all things, alcohol lowers the output of testosterone and growth hormones, your prime muscle builders. Lastly, it stops fat loss in its tracks for about twelve hours. Overall, a horrible combination for an athlete in training.”

3. Undertraining/Overtraining  

One of the longest running debates among members of the weight lifting community is how to toe the line between undertraining and overtraining. Undertraining seems like a simple concept. If you don’t put in enough time and effort at the gym, then you’ll never see the results you want in the mirror. However, things get a little more complicated when you consider that you can also overtrain your muscles. Overtraining is a hard pill for any gym rat to swallow, but the fact of that matter is you can, in fact, train too much which does not provide adequate time for recovery. To avoid overtraining, many fitness experts recommend workouts that demand harder work in a shorter amount of time, such as HIIT.

“The ability to do more work in less time, maximize results, continue burning calories for up to two hours after you finish your workout, stoke your metabolism for a 24- to 48-hour period, increase lean muscle and burn more calories while at rest, etc.,” Drew O’Connell, president of New Body Fitness, told Medical Daily in an email. “All of these benefits (and more) are the result of this style of training.”

4. Eating Too Much/Not Eating Enough

Now that you’ve put your time in at the gym, it’s time to put your time in at the kitchen. Nutrition is just as important as the amount of time you put in at the gym. What should you eat and how much should you eat depends solely on what your goals are. If you’re looking to lose weight, then clearly you should be aiming to burn more calories than you consume.

If you’re looking to gain weight and build muscle, then you would not want to burn more calories than you consume. Once you know how many calories you should be consuming each day, it’s time to decide where those calories are coming from. Although protein is all the craze right now, don’t forget the two other essential macronutrients, fat and carbs. Find your right balance of macros using MyFitnessPal.

“Does your car run without gas?” O’Connell added. “Of course not, so how do you expect to get the results in the gym AND from your workouts if you aren't fueling your body properly? When we combine exercise and nutrition, we achieve our results 80 percent faster!”

5. Not Changing It Up

While consistency is recommended in any workout routine, doing the same exercises with the same amount of weight week in and week out will eventually lead to the dreaded plateau, where your body just doesn’t seem to be making any more progress. A plateau occurs because our bodies run so efficiently. If you hit a plateau a certain number of weeks into your new workout routine, it’s because your body has adapted to each exercise.

The only way to break out of a plateau is by getting past your body’s comfort zone and challenging yourself. Luckily, there are a number of ways to change up your workout routine and blast threw that plateau, such as switching from less weight/higher reps to more weight/lower reps, or switching exercises.

6. Not Stretching/Foam Rolling

In addition to eating the right types of food, stretching or foam rolling is essential to post-workout muscle recovery. Not too long ago, stretching was only considered useful at the beginning of a workout to help loosen up your muscles for physical activity. Range of motion is essential to performing your exercise correctly and avoiding an injury. The key to improving range of motion is stretching out those joints. One of the best ways to actively aid your muscle recovery is a deep tissue massage, but affording one is a whole other matter. Thankfully, we have a cost-effective tool that we can use to perform a self-massage or myofascial release, and it’s called a foam roller. Research has shown that foam rolling after a workout helps with increasing blood flow and circulation to soft tissues. 

Join the Discussion