10 Ways You Might Be Misusing Exercise
So, why do you workout?
No what matter your reason, in the end we all want the same thing: a workout routine that will enable us to find the very best of our bodies and ourselves. We want to train smart and have fun while training. We want to leave the training floor feeling more energized, clear headed, and happy then when we got on it. Although you might be working towards a specific health or weight goal, I hope your health and fitness journey far surpasses those first few goals and becomes an integral part of your life pursuit for health and wellness. This is exactly the reason this topic is so close to my heart.
I think that the theme of exercise abuse amongst ‘fit’ people is almost as bad as the lack of exercise amongst the general public. Now you might say to yourself well, what’s the big deal… if these people are fit, then they are healthy and strong, why worry about them. But actually, exercise abuse leads to exhaustion, stress, fat storage, overuse injuries, weakness, mood swings, a lack of overall energy, pain and a lack of over all performance. So no, people that workout are not always the healthiest people. However people that workout smart are. Now the main difference between these two types of people is simple: The difference is simple, people that workout smart know one thing that others don’t. They understand the true definition of EXERCISE.
So, to help you understand what exercise is, and help you formulate a REAL success plan towards all of your fitness, health, strength and weight-loss goals is a list of 10 things you need to understand about exercise.
- Are you feeling stronger?Are you seeing REAL results? If you are working out correctly you are undeniably seeing ‘gain’s in your training. If you are mis-using exercise routine, well, then you are not seeing or feeling anything but achy joints, knee pain, back pain and a whole list of other ‘fitness’ issues. Gains can be more pushups, longer stability holds, heavier weights, greater capacity towards movement. An increase in balance, speed, agility, mobility (whatever your workout demands – are you making those gains?). Now, while you might not see gains in a week, you will see them. And if you have been working out for a while with no real strides, well, its simply a matter of misusing your workouts by either not working out regularly, or abusing your training by doing to much, in having no program and with no real goal.
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- You don’t know the definition of exercise. True and smart exercise can help you become stronger, more muscularly enduring, and less susceptible to injury. Engaging in regular exercise can improve body composition and increase cardio- respiratory functioning. However, people constantly abuse and break down their bodies because they don’t understand the correct definition of exercise. They think more is better- more miles, more hours, more classes, more jumps. But in reality training smarter is better. If you can hold a plank for 3 minutes it might no longer be the exercise you need- perhaps you should try an extended plank for 30 seconds instead. In training you need to leave the training floor stronger and more energized, not broken down and hurting. Exercise is never just about doing – it’s mainly about doing it right for that specific goal. So instead of doing, doing and going – focus on mastering great form, pay attention to your biomechanics and your breathing, make sure your reps, sets, moves and time intervals mimic your goals – and go slow enough to make real gains.
- You’re using your sports routine as your strength and conditioning program. There is sport and there is exercise—the two are very different. We often mistake one for the other. Many people have taken up recreational sport activities as a way to stay active and fit—using a sport as a form of “exercise.” However, sports are not your exercise routine.
Recreational sports like swimming, running, playing tennis or basketball are activities or, sometimes, fitness hobbies. Your exercise routine is the strength and conditioning regiment used to get you in shape for your sport and to help you fortify your body and avoid injury from your sport, as well as in your life. The only exception is bodybuilding and, to a point, power lifting—however power lifters still have a strength and conditioning routine to help fortify them for their sport specific lifts. So why are we confused? To be honest, the word “activity” is bland, while “exercise” merits huge amounts of recognition and respect amongst our friends and peers. When I say I exercise it means I have discipline, it means I am strong and healthy and I care about myself. Activity on the other hand feels like a random act of anything. You might still be confused—I know I was. I thought that people who play basketball with their friends or run marathons or box are exercising—but no, they are being active, perhaps they are recreational athletes or even professional athletes. But if you notice, marathon runners, swimmers, football players, as well as all other athletes, have a strength-and-conditioning exercise routine that is separate to their sport. In a study done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning female volleyball players where given a strength and conditioning routine in their off season, in turn the routine proved to help their performance in their actual sport. In the end, this proved yet again how a separate training routine is a necessity to help enhance the sports we play and the daily activities we do.
- Are you training for the right reason? One of the main reasons athletes have a fitness routine is to keep them game ready. This literally means that they are training for performance enhancement. Performance Enhancement means having a solid exercise program that is meant to improve your ability in a specific sport, or for regular people improve the bodies strength, health, mobility. So, as a person that works out you must do so with the idea that your workout is helping you be a better, more capable person in your own body. Workouts should never be just about the ‘calorie burn’. With that kind of attitude you’ll wind up breaking your body down with useless exercise, spending 3 hours at the gym and getting nothing done except for stressing and overtraining yourself with no real balance or gains. If you train to be ‘better’ in your body, you’ll make the most out of each exercise and get out to enjoy your life. Shift your focus a bit, learn to train for performance, not calories.
- You Get Injured In Your Workout Routine. Injury Prevention is the second definition of working out. Athletes workout for better performance and for injury prevention. As you train, workout, or exercise (all interchangeable terms) you are fortifying and balancing your body. Correct exercise should never ever lead to injury. While it is okay to get injured in your sport (like falling in a hockey or tennis game) it is absolutely NOT okay to get hurt lifting a weight, swinging a kettlebell, or doing a push-up. Those exercises are made to fortify your body and aid injury prevention.
As just one example the journal of Medicine and Science In Sports and Exercise published a study, providing the injury prevention benefits of strength and conditioning routines supplemental to sport.If you get injured in your workout something is wrong- your form is off, you are training too much, or performing the wrong exercises, for the wrong reps/ time or order. The key is to know what you are doing, what muscle you are using, what your goals is and why you are doing the exercise. If you feel pain (lets say knee pain from running) the goal is to STOP your activity and reprogram your workout to help you get pain free, strong and balanced. So if you are ‘working-out through pain’ well, then you are doing as much harm as good.
- Are You Working Out Just To Lose Weight? The by-product of exercise is a healthy and fit looking body. Yes, the by-product! While many of us start exercising to lose weight and look better, in the true definition of the term, improved body composition and increased cardio-respiratory functioning is a simple by-product of fitness and exercise. Properly conducted exercise will make the joints and connective tissue more mobile, as well as increase your ability to exert more force. Proper exercise will improve performance and longevity in any activity or sport you do, and do the same in your life. And while you can also find yourself losing weight and feeling better when you become active— exercise /fitness training is directly related to balancing the body and providing the best overall results in health and wellness, as well as in all of your recreational activities and your daily life. Begin to view your training in this way, and see yourself working out less, working out far more efficiently and with far greater results. You’ll also be able to keep the weight.
- You Spent 3 Hours At The Gym. Unless it’s your job to train (you are a professional athlete) you have zero reason to spend half of your day jumping from one machine to the other in hopes of burning more calories. Whatever you can do in 3 hours you can do even better in 45-60 minutes. The idea of training is to get the most out of your muscle (often the term is called milking the muscle) and to get out. If you are lifting 2 pound weights for 3 hours straight, you’d get far more benefit, fat lose, muscle definition and strength from using a heavier weight – challenging yourself and going about your life.If you aren’t sure how to minimize your time in the gym and maximize your workout, invest in a trainer or a fitness DVD (I have 4 home fitness programs that are all under 60 minutes).
- You aren’t balancing your sport with your workout. Whatever you do in your sport, or athletic activity must be balanced out by your exercise routine. Consider two sports I really like: tennis and boxing. In tennis you are constantly using one arm; in boxing you have one lead so you are overworking one area of the body in a specific range of motion. You would need to hit an equal amount of backhands or punching combos with your other hand to avoid creating an overuse or muscle imbalance in your body. The job of your exercise routine is to balance the body and make sure the length-tension relations are equal and that your right and left are not unilateral. So you see, there is exercise like strength and conditioning and there is sport and activity like marathon running, horse back riding, volleyball, and soccer (to name just a few). Make sure your main workout has a basic balance sheet: left and right sides worked equally, squats and hinges for the lower body, pushing and pulling for the upper body. Also include lateral motion if you can. If you practice a specify sport that has a dominant lead or movement pattern then you must off set and balance out the other side in your workout routine.
- You Don’t Have A Real Training Schedule or Program. People who randomly workout will never get the results that people who workout on a program do. The fittest bodies in the world, the celebrities you love, the athletes you follow all have one thing in common- they follow a program. Exercise programing is key. Find a home or gym program that works and follow it- if not, you are waisting a lot of potential for your bodies true capacity.
- You Are Too Busy Listening To Everyone Else- Not Yourself. You need to learn to trust yourself when you train. You cannot just trust every new person you meet. There are countless ‘so called’ Instagram experts who post and follow every last fitness move they see. But ask yourself if you would never just take a medicine prescription from your doctor without knowing why, and what it is doing to your body, why would you ever do so for exercise? You should not simply follow my every move or word (or the word of any other ‘fitness Guro’, trainer, fit superstar), you should know why you are doing the exercise and what benefits you will gain from proper training. The people who get and keep the best results are those who have a clear understanding of what fitness is and what they specifically need to do for their goals.
- You Change Your Program Every Other Week. When you workout you are building a neurological map to your bodies success. So be patient because for your body to give you the results you want, you need to stay with the same map and keep building. Switching a routine too soon can leave the body confused . Your body needs time to adjust to your training. Changing your workout can simply mean adding more weight or manipulation a time interval- if you’ve been using kettlebells and body weight training to get fit and haven’t seen the results you desire in the first few weeks- stay with it – some strides take longer to see then others.
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- You Get STRONG and Lean…