This article first appeared on Mamamia on 26 March 2022 as “I’m a personal trainer. Here are 4 common mistakes I always see people making”.
The world of fitness is fraught with…everything. Are my leggings see through when I squat? Will this exercise result in my knees being replaced? What is my escape plan when this bench-press crushes me? And my responses to these are: don’t worry about it, maybe, actually no idea.
What I do have an idea about are the most common fitness mistakes that I have seen over the span of my career. The kinds of mistakes that are the difference between achieving the results you are seeking or not.
The good news is that the below mistakes can be easily fixed and implemented right now. The better news is that these fixes can be applied to any form of fitness regime you are currently undertaking whether it’s your own home workout or working out at the gym.
So if you are sweating your little patootie off and achieving nada, you might be making these fitness mistakes:
Not having a specific goal
How will you know if you are succeeding with your fitness regime if you don’t actually know what you are trying to achieve? Your goal can be super simple: do my usual walk around the lake in under 1 hour, do a push-up all the way to the ground on my toes, complete a full group fitness class, fit into my old jeans – anything you can measure.
It’s like that time I was travelling in Europe and I hopped on a random tram in Nice hoping it would take me back to my accommodation without actually knowing the location of my accommodation (don’t ask). I was on a mode of transport that would theoretically get me to a destination, I just didn’t know exactly where that destination was. Do you see what I’m getting at? Also never ask me for directions. I digress…
Not measuring your goals
The above process of articulating your goals (not necessarily getting on random trams in foreign countries) is not the be all and end all – you need to make the effort to semi-regularly measure yourself against said goals. Because let me tell you this: you will absolutely not feel the improvements you are making on a daily basis as you grind away at your fitness regime which I know can be demoralising-and-why-do-I-bother-double-coat-tim-tams-would-never-make-me-feel-this-way. Improvements are imperceptible on a daily basis. So semi-regularly, commit to testing yourself against your goals to confirm you are on the right track and to reassure that your efforts are not wasted. Time your walk each week. Did your time get a little faster? Try a push-up on your toes. Can you get closer to the ground this month? Can you complete a few more minutes of that group fitness class? Or pull your jeans up another few centimetres?
Which brings me to the next mistake:
Not sticking to your routine for long enough
If you’ve got your goal perfectly articulated and you feel like you’re working your little patootie off for still nada, perhaps you haven’t given yourself enough time to see the results. You can’t cram fitness. I understand that the concept of patience is most unacceptable in this on-demand era where at the click of a button a stranger will deliver you a cheese sandwich. But in my 17 years in the industry I am yet to game the system. The good news is that it’s impossible to not get a result if you stick to your routine consistently over a period of time. So hang in there! Good things are coming.
Working too hard
This one may surprise and delight, but I’m not actually talking about working at a higher intensity to achieve results. In fact one of the most common mistakes I see with clients hell bent on achieving results is working too hard all the time. Here’s the thing, you are an adaptable being and if you give your body the same stimulus day in day out (even the most challenging stimulus), it will figure out ways to get used to it and you will plateau. I know right? On what planet is this an acceptable outcome. But here we are. The answer here is simply to vary your intensity. Sure push yourself some days, but on others maybe you work at half your capacity. On another day mix up your intensity.
Don’t overthink it, just be pleased you don’t have to give yourself a coronary everyday to fit in to an old dress.