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Friday, February 11, 2005

Correcting the Top Ten Exercise Mistakes

The American Council on Exercise comprised a list of the ‘Top 10’ mistakes that people tend to make when visiting (or not visiting) the gym. Following you will find the list in our own words. Take note of these errors and make sure that you are covered on all bases in regard to avoiding them. Mom Looks Great readers must be at the top of their game!

1.Feast or Famine – We are not talking about you diet in this case. When time is tight, some of you may forego your workout. Remember that you do not need a full consecutive hour to meet fitness demands. Ten to twenty minute bursts of activity can work in conjunction with one another or even alone on days when your schedule will not allow more time.

2.Balance the Scale – In building a healthy body you want to give equal amounts of attention to all muscle groups. Visible areas such as your arms or legs may tempt you for more focus, but your stomach, back and behind are also key areas of strength in your everyday routine. When you do not work your body as a whole throughout the week, you are prone to injuries due to an overall muscle imbalance.

3.Mirror, Mirror – Your eyes are beautiful and nothing is in your teeth, but most important, the mirrors in the gym are for insuring correct posture during exercise and not for aesthetic reasons. On the flipside, do not feel cocky for staring at yourself while exercising. It is imperative that you make sure your posture is correct during your training sessions. Common errors in posture include knees jutting beyond ankles when in squat or lunge positions, shoulders shrugged (even the slightest bit) while performing upper body exercises as well as butt not tucked or stomach not tightened. Make sure your form is correct and if needed, there is usually an available trainer if you have questions.

4.One Step at a Time - The whole basis of the Mom Looks Great program is gradual progression, whether you just had your baby or you have an unconditioned body after a long period of time of foregoing formal exercise. While men are usually guiltier than women of Mistake #4, we too can enter the gym and expect to pick up at the intensity where we left off, whether it’s the weights that we lift or the speed of which we perform cardio exercise. Do not succumb to your ego. You must re-introduce your body in a proper manner which means a gradual progression of intensity over a period of time.

5.Variety, the Spice of Life – Even exercise has its share of ruts. You find a great routine and stick to it…forever…and ever. Not only could this dampen your enthusiasm for exercising, it may also cause muscular imbalance. For instance, if you find running is your ideal for dropping weight and feeling great, you need to add in weights, or a different cardio class ever so often. All that running with no alternative can lead to injury, joint and muscle over usage, training plateaus and especially burnout.

6.This Chair is Too Big – So remarked Goldilocks in Papa Bear’s Chair. After He-Man has left the leg press, you may feel a similar notion. Make sure to adjust weight machines according to your body size. Most exercise equipment offers instructions as to where your knees should be or how your feet should fit under pads, etc. These focus points insure that you are working the machine properly. Consequently, you will be maximizing your training and minimizing the possibility of injury.

7.Rubbernecking – While in a car, it is imperative to keep your eyes on the road. When watching a toddler, it is crucial to keep an eye on the little bugger so he doesn’t pepper-toe to the nearest danger zone. As well, when you are in the gym it is important to stay focused on your workout. While the damage may not be as extensive as twisted metal or heart-wrenching tears, the point remains that when you lose focus on what you are doing, you lose efficiency. Remember, working out is serious – posture must be maintained, breathing must be controlled and the mind must be focused. This combination will insure a safe and effective workout.

8.Closing the Loop – Picture your favorite dish fresh from the oven. Transferring it by pot pads to the nearest cooled burner, you gently set it down. Then, you immediately stick a fork in it to enjoy a big scrumptious bite. You are well aware that instead of a taste sensation, all you get is an impression of hellish magnitude burnt onto your tongue that will linger for a day or so. To your body, this is similar to finishing an intensive bout of exercise and heading straight for the locker room. After placing the beneficial stress of exercise on your body, you must take a few minutes to cool down. Cooling down includes catching your breath, having your heart rate return to normal and even stretching your warmed-up and worked muscles. The latter of which is known to reduce next day muscle soreness as well as improve flexibility and prepare your body for the next workout.

9.Miss Manners Says – No makeup, baggy sweats, perspiration and loud grunting does not excuse the necessity for proper etiquette. Even the gym has its unspoken rules. Outstaying the time allotment on equipment, not cleaning up after yourself (re-racking weights or cleaning up your sweat) and loud chatting, especially on cell phones, all bring great annoyance to your fellow fitness enthusiasts. Most of the expected courtesy is common sense and can be gauged by asking yourself how you would feel if…

10.Conceive and Believe – Knowing your goals and how you will achieve them is an important step in your exercise program. Aimlessly wandering about the gym without a clear plan of what you need to do in order to meet your goals is asking for trouble and the leading cause of exercise drop out. Get started on a well planned exercise program and, if needed, document your progression on a regular basis.

by Sherri Dodd
the creator and author of Mom Looks Great - The Fitness Program for Moms. She is also an ACE-certified Personal Trainer and a Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant with over fifteen years of exercise experience. She is dedicated to a life of fitness as well as encouraging others to establish healthy habits and a better quality of life.


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