6 mistakes that make your gym sessions less effective
Take those blinkers off
1. Excessive cardio
Although having a lean body may involve a considerably good and disciplined cardio regime, too much cardio is in fact bad for you. If you're a slave to the stair master, cycling machine, treadmill, you can actually lose the hard-earned muscle you have built. Be sure to combine cardio with strength exercises, and work on building your muscle mass, all of which will enable you to burn calories more effectively through cardio. Generally, a cardio session should last between 30-90 minutes, depending on your stamina and fitness level. It is recommended to engage in three to five days of moderate cardio sessions per week.
It's bad enough if you don't push yourself to your limits, but it's even worse when you overtrain. Overtraining often leaves you fatigued instead of energised, brings down your immunity levels, and even increases your risk of getting a stress fracture or injury. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week to achieve the minimum baseline levels of health and fitness. Plus, if you're not going to have the strength and energy to continue your regular weekly schedule, your exercise program may be compromised. For the ladies, one of the tell tale signs that you are overtraining includes the change in your monthly period patterns. Observe your body at all times and listen to it when it tells you to stop.
3. Failing to set aside time for proper recovery
No matter what fitness goals you've set for yourself, you need to pay attention to balancing exercise and rest. Most rookies tend to push hard in the gym while failing to get enough rest and sleep. Getting enough hydration, sleep and rest are especially important for beginners, so be sure to drink protein shakes, get enough sleep, visit saunas, or take a warm bath to help your body and muscles relax and prepare for another strenuous workout.
4. Ignoring warm-ups and stretches
This part of your exercise routine might seem negligible, but it's a crucial step in preparing your body for the workout ahead. The optimal warm-up session typically lasts 15 minutes to half an hour, and helps to keep the muscles warm, promote blood flow, and loosen up tense muscles and ligaments. Furthermore, it can help to prevent acute injuries such as hamstrings strains or even tears.
5. Not eating enough
Even if you're working out with the intention to lose weight, your diet shouldn't be compromised. Don't restrict yourself to a no-carb diet, or turn to eating seeds or roses. All active human beings require a staple diet that provides enough energy derived from carbohydrates and fats. Ideally, the diet should comprise 55 to 60 per cent of calories from carbohydrates, no more than 30 percent of calories from fat, and the balance from protein. If you think your diet requires attention, consult your personal trainer or a certified professional to ensure you're on the right track.
About Doreen Irinco
An unabashed foodie, Doreen has a certification in Sports and Exercise Science, a discipline that puts her in good stead to question the whys and hows of food nutrition, body conditioning, and sports wellness. When she's not writing, she enjoys snapping photos of symmetries or rainbows.
- Image: Getty Images
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