The 11 Biggest Exercise Mistakes

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I've been guilty of most items on the list that follows, have you?

  1. Not having a strong enough "why"

    Why do you want to exercise? In my case to improve my health. But why do you want that? I found creating a compelling vision and purpose create excitement and self-motivation. For example...

    My ultimate vision: To condition, shape, and sculpt my body into that of a stunning athletic Adonis. Someone with unlimited endurance, powerful strength, incredible stamina, optimum cardio conditioning, passion, and excitement.

    My ultimate purpose (why do I want to achieve that vision?):

    • To look and feel my best
    • To have an abudance of energy to support my family and friends and to dominate my projects
    • To have fun and enjoy the process of being fit
    • To have an absolutely buff body -- to be attractive to myself and to others
    • To be a role model to my family, friends, and clients
    • To teach myself and others how to be healthy
    • To treat my body like the temple of health it deserves to be
    • To live a long and healthy life so I can enjoy, empower, and bond with my family, friends, and clients
    • To be filled with energy and passion

    Wow! If I don't achieve health mastery, I'll be letting a lot of people down -- most importantly myself. Becoming very healthy is a MUST for me.

  2. Not having specific measureable goals for your exercise program

    What specifically do you want to accomplish? Do you want to

    • Lose weight? How much? How can you tell when you are done?
    • Reduce your percentage of body fat? To what level?
    • Lower your blood pressure? What is your blood pressure measurement? What would be normal?
    • Increase your strength?
    • Increase your flexibility? To what degree? Do you want to be able to wrap your leg around the back of your neck?
    • Increase your energy level? How can you tell?
    • Improve your stamina and endurance? How can you tell?
    • Reduce your resting heart beat? To what?

    • My specific goals:
      • Body weight 170 lbs or less (based on my height -- just under 6 feet, but muscle done and fat percentage will override specific weight goal).
      • Resting heartbeat at 48-50 beats per minute
      • Blood Pressure in optimal-to-normal range
        • Systolic pressure at or below 120-130
        • Diastolic pressure at or below 80-85
      • Cholestoral levels in normal-to-optimal ranges
      • Increased energy levels, stamina, and endurance measured by logging how I subjectively feel after physically stressful activities like stair climbing or cardio workouts, also measuring heart beats per minute after such activity.
  3. Most of those things secondary goals -- by-products, symptoms, or nuances of a more important goal.

    Many people have vague goals that aren't well thought out e.g. "I want to lose some weight". Great, take of your shoes, that will remove 1-2 lbs. If you take off the rest of your clothes, there's another 2-4 lbs. Is that what you meant?

    Oh, did you mean removing body fat weight? That's simple: just stop eating. That's not a healthy method.

    My goal is NOT to remove weight per se, but that is one of my measures. Being overweight, having high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, lack of energy, lack of stamina are all symptoms, are all measures of poor health. My goal is to improve "root cause": my health and fitness as measured by those other things. For example, my one year goals are:

  4. Not measuring your results or using measures not aligned with your goals and methods

    How will you know if you've made progress if you don't measure it?

    In my case, my goal is to achieve an athletic level of fitness. That's too high-level to be directly measured, so I've broken that down into several related sub-goals. My strategy is to use Static Contraction for strength training and various types of cardio exercise for endurance and fat burning.

    To those ends, I measure and record:

    • Intensity of each Strength Training workout

      Since I do Static Contraction Training on SuperRep equipment, I measure:
      • Date of workout
      • Equipment setup for each exercise (e.g. bar position)
      • Maxinum amount of force my body was able to exert for each exercise, measured in pounds (via the equipment's electronic meter)
      • A subjective assessment of how I felt before and after the workout (good, neutral, bad)
      • Which exercises registered strength gains vs last workout (which exercises I was able to press more weight)

        This determines whether I've overtrained, which I use to determine how many days to wait until the next workout and which exercises to do next workout. With Static contraction workouts, you should show strength gains in every exercise of every workout.

        If I plateaued or lost ground on 1-2 exercises, symtomatic of overtraining just those exercises, I skip them next time.

        If I plateaued or lost ground on 3 more exercises, symptomatic of across the board overtraining, I add 3 more days to my waiting period between workouts.

    • For cardio workouts on my LifeCycle using a "Hill Program"
      • Date and time of day of the workout
      • Intensity Level setting for the equipment
      • Duration of the workout
      • Duration for the cool down portion of the workout
      • Peak heart rate during warmup
      • Peak heart rate on the last most intense hill (toughest part of the workout)
      • My weight in pounds before and after the workout (weight loss ==> intensity of workout)
      • The size of my "sweat stain" (big stain ==> hgher intensity, shrinking stain ==> lower intensity and/or improved conditioning -- time to "amp up" the workout)

    • General measures
      • Resting pulse rate esp. when I first wake up
      • Blood pressure before and after each workout
      • My weight (in pounds) before and after each workout
      • Size of my sweat stain on my shirt resulting from that work (measures impact/intensity of workout)

  5. Choosing methods that are not matched to your goals
    • Static Contraction is awesome for strength training but does nothing for flexibility or cardio.
    • Yoga excels at improving your flexibility but is not as useful for strength training or cardio training.
    • Aerobics or Cardio workouts can imporive your endurance, and strengthen your heart, but to little for flexibility or strength training.
  6. Choosing ineffective exercise methods
    • For strength training:
      • I did circuit weight training on and off for 10+ years with at best miminal progress. 
      • When I switched to Static Contraction I had much better results in just the first 4 weeks than I had from my 10+ years of circuit weight training.
  7. Not having enough alternatives
  8. Not adapting your methods based on what your measurements tell you
    • With Static Contraction strength training, if you are not measuring strength gains in EVERY exercise of EVERY workout, you are probably overtraining and need to adjust your workout plan.
  9. Exercising too little or too much
  10. Poor nutrition
  11. Not getting enough sleep
  12. Not making it fun