Whether you’re a fitness newbie or a seasoned gym bunny, it’s easy to fall into some of the most common fitness traps. Here, fitness expert Laura Williams picks four of the most common fitness fails and shows you how to get it right…
Overdoing the high intensity (and underdoing the low intensity) H.I.I.T is everywhere – every Instagrammer, celeb and member of general Joe Public are raving about H.I.I.T. High intensity hype is real. But if your fitness routine consists solely of nausea-inducing burpees, box jumps and all-out treadmill intervals, you could be in line for an injury or run the risk of burning out.
Steady-state training as it’s traditionally known (or LISS, Low Intensity Steady State, for those who favour the acronym) should form a basic part of any rounded routine. Slowing the pace is still great for both heart and waistline and may mean you’re more likely to stick with your regime – a 2015 study found results from high and low intensity exercise comparable, but the lower intensity was found to be more enjoyable.
Essential tips: Mix up high and low intensity throughout the week Combine high and low impact exercise too Listen to your body – be flexible if you’re under the weather
Thinking squats and lunges are the sole solution to good glutes
Google ‘best butt exercises’ and the chances are squats and lunges will feature heavily. While these multi-tasking moves are indeed good news for the glutes (your bum muscles) they’re not the only exercises you should be looking at.
Other movements such as hip thrusts, hip extensions and rotations all target the glutes over other muscles such as your quads, particularly when you befriend the exercise band. While squats help to form a good foundation for your lower body routine, throwing in some other moves is a must for function and aesthetics. Essential tips: Include a variety of exercises to activate your glutes Vary the kit you use too – try bands, tubes and balls as well as weights Check your form – do your exercises in front of a mirror if it helps.
Suffering from core confusion
The core generally refers to muscles other than your six-pack muscle. For a start there’s your transverse abdominis, a deep abdominal muscle that acts as a corset. Then there’s your lower back muscles and those that surround and support the hips and pelvis. So performing a lowly sit-up won’t really work your core fully.
It’s the strengthening of all of these muscles that assists every day movements such as picking up heavy objects, as well as helping to prevent injury in high impact sports such as running. Key core exercises include bridges, a variety of planks and moves such as Superman. Essential tips: Core exercises should never hurt your back Good ‘core kit’ includes sliding discs and the stability ball Bridges, leg-lowers and planks should be included in a comprehensive core routine
Not being stretching-savvy
If you find yourself stopping after your warm-up to grab a limb and yank it into an awkward position holding it long enough so you’ve cooled down again, it might be time to think again. You’re better leaving those long, static, developmental stretches to the end of your workout and including some activity-specific dynamic stretches into your warm up.
Dynamic means you’re working your joints through a range of motion – lateral leg swings, lunges-with-a-twist and shallow squats all work well to prepare those larger muscles groups for exercise. And then you can save those longer static stretches for the end of your workout, when muscles are well and truly warmed up. Essential tips: Keep stretches that involve a range of movement to your warm up Hold your static stretches at the end of the workout Vary stretches and ensure you include all muscle groups you’ve worked.