Love It or Hate It: the new Sprint “everything is important” commercials?
…I LOVE them. Especially the newest one, featuring the phrase “Totes-McGotes, it’s cray-cray adorbs.” (If you’re anything like my husband, you just winced in pain.)
Typically, I’m not a cray-cray fan, and I’m perfectly happy without the word adorbs in my life, but the super formal recitation of them? Kiiiills me.
In other pop culture news, fellow Walking Dead fans: who else was ASLEEP through the entire last episode? What was that?? I’ve never had to turn to my husband in the middle of a show I’m somewhat invested in and say “I’m bored” (more than once actually—is that annoying?).
Also, I’m still following the Voice religiously, but there have been some major disappointments along the way, IMO. Like, how in the world was the cute blonde country girl (Olivia) cut so soon? I thought she was incredible! Is it because the show just can’t let cute blonde country girls win it every time?
Ok, so I wanted to talk a little bit today about “missed opportunities” in fitness. You’ve probably seen similar lists under the word “mistakes,” but I didn’t want to call them that for a couple reasons:
–Mistakes suggest failure. These aren’t hand-slaps. Just some ways to get even better than you already are.
–I don’t like the way abundant information sometimes leads to people feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed by all the “rules” of fitness. Imperfect workouts are better than nonexistent ones.
–Some of these things are minor ideas that could be beneficial, but won’t necessarily hurt ya if they’re skipped either.
Going too fast during strength training
I’m talking swinging-barbells-fast.
When you fly through strength exercises, you end up using momentum instead of muscle to lift the weight. I’ve found that 10 super-super-slow crunches are way more difficult (=effective) than 30 fast ones. Same goes for curls, bench press, squats, etc. If it feels like it’s getting easy, this could be the reason.
Take yo tiiiime.
Too much isolated movement/skimping on core work
We’re pretty good about getting our crunches or planks in here or there, but there’s a shift going on in the fitness world right now (that I love) to embrace a more synergistic core-focused approach to strength training. With this approach, most—if not all—moves in a workout are combo moves with tons of baked in core work, so you’re working your core ALL THE TIME instead of just during your devoted “ab time.” And instead of isolated arm or leg moves, you do hybrid lifts that have the arms, legs, and core ALL doing primary work at the same time.
Not only is this a really effective use of time and better for the core, but working more muscle groups together equals burning more calories. Win win win!
Static stretching pre-workout
New studies have found that not only does static stretching (like the old push-on-the-wall calf stretch) not help prevent injuries when done before exercise, but it may actually hinder your performance during exercise, especially during heavy strength training.
Instead, trainers are now recommending only dynamic warm-ups before workouts, like walking lunges, jumping jacks, or arm windmills (static stretching is still fine post-workout). So, moves with continuous movement that involve full ranges of motion, which are more about literally warming up your body and psychologically preparing you to work out than anything else.
(Works for me—I like those better anyway!)
Skipping balance work
Balance work isn’t just for older folks, people. One of the things NASM teaches is to not think of strength as a function of muscles, but of neuromuscular efficiency. And to get neuromuscular efficiency, you have to train your brain to manage your muscles as effectively as possible.
But if that doesn’t sell you, how about this: incorporating balance training into your workouts burns more calories!!
So wobble away—it’s helping you more than you know.
One of the most dangerous ones: expecting workouts to be fun.
Sure, it’s great if you can find something you legitimately like doing, but even then, I’d be willing to bet there are going to be some boring days. You can’t expect the heavens to open every time you pop in a workout video—sometimes, working out is just plain old work.
Some other dangerous expectations are thinking you’ll get results a few weeks into a new workout program and expecting exercise to make up for bad nutrition.
Sacrificing form for weight
It’s great to challenge yourself with big weights, and you probably know you’re not supposed to use so much weight that you end up sacrificing form.
BUT: it’s easier to do than you might think. (Especially in group classes, where peer pressure can be both a friend and a foe.)
You might not realize you’re bunching up your shoulders during curls or collapsing your knees in toward each other during squats. You might start out with great form and then let it go as you get tired.
Part of good form is good posture. I have to constantly remind myself to relax my shoulders, pulling them down and back, regardless of what I’m doing. (Hell, I just did it while typing that!)
The best way to manage your form—brace yourself—is by practicing moves in front of the mirror, ballerina style. Get into position, check your form, and then close your eyes and do a little body awareness to memorize how proper form feels.
I’ve done this a lot with squats, particularly, since they’re kind of a tricky to master (or at least, they were for me).
Lack of body awareness
Even if you’re paying close attention to what you’re doing, it’s very possible to think you’re doing something very differently than the way you’re actually doing it.
For example, in my recent fitness pics, I was surprised to see how low I was actually going into my lunges. Meaning: not very low. I thought I was going so much lower! Huge wake up call (and the same probably goes for my squats!).
Again, the best way to battle this is with a mirror. Or, get someone to take a bunch of pictures of you! (Right?? How fun does that sound?? Ha.)
Too much cardio
This has been a pretty hot topic lately, as more and more people are switching to shorter, high-intensity workouts over the traditional, long steady-state cardio sessions. Research has shown that lots of cardio jacks up cortisol levels (the bad guy responsible for belly fat) and increases inflammation in the body, among other things. (Giselle recently wrote a great post about her life as a reformed cardio junkie!)
In my opinion, the best reasons to do steady-state cardio are stress relief, enjoyment, and race training. If you love to run, by all means, run. If you’re like me and you like to just zone out on the treadmill for a little bit after a long day at work, totally fine. The key is to know what to expect from it (specifically, not much in the way of changes to body composition) and to make sure it’s not the only thing you do.
Phoning it in
You’re going through the motions of a workout, but you’re not really engaging your muscles as much as you could be.
I had a lightbulb moment somewhere along the way, when I realized that people in a group exercise class could be doing the same exact workout and getting either much more or much less out of it than others based on what they’re putting in.
For best non-phoned-in results, focus on actively engaging (flexing) whatever muscles you’re specifically working AND the muscles you’re not specifically working, PLUS the core. (Always with the core, right?)
Too long of sessions
My general opinion is that there’s no need to workout for more than 45 minutes at a time, tops (unless you’re an endurance athlete—which many would argue isn’t necessary either, but that’s a whole ‘nother can). An hour of zombie-style training is less productive than 20 minutes of high-intensity, focused exercise, anyway, and HIIT training leads to longer post-workout calorie afterburns.
If it does take you an hour or longer to work out (outside of race training or something), I wonder if your rest periods are too long? O, are you trying to fit too much into one day’s workout?
What would you add to this list?
A few others that come to mind are lack of: variety, planning, sleep, and stick-to-itness. (Are you ok with that word?)