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Health and Fitness

Going Cardio Crazy and 'No Pain, No Gain': 10 Mistakes We're Making At The Gym

by Teddi Ginsberg Published on 6 July 2014

If you've been working out like a woman possessed but are still not seeing your desired results you could be falling into the trap of these common exercise errors. We've all made these mistakes at the gym before, but with these ten simple solutions, we won't have to anymore. Get ready to rock that summer body.

It can be incredibly frustrating when you feel like you're doing everything right on the health and fitness front, but aren't seeing or feeling the results you'd expected. Let's face it, we aren't all lucky enough to work with a personal trainer everyday, but that doesn't mean we can't have the same quality of workouts. Sometimes though, it takes a pro to point out what we're doing wrong - and tell us how to make it right.

​We spoke to Kieran Fisher from Bodybuilding Warehouse about the mistakes we've all been guilty of making, and he told us all about how we can correct our ways.

1. Going cardio crazy

With the rise in popularity of dance workouts and boutique fitness studios popping up everywhere, cardio is all the rage. And it's great, but it's not the only thing you should be doing.

"Avoiding weights for fear of ‘bulking out’ is one of the most common mistakes to make," Kieran says.

"Endless cardio routines will burn muscle and could push your metabolism into a worse state than it started. Hitting the weights will keep a stimulus on your muscles and keep your metabolism up at the same time."

You don't have to give up your spin classes but if you're a self-conessed cardio queen you should definitely add some weight training into your routine.

2. Repeating the same routine

You know what you're good at, and you know what you like. We get that. But it's good to switch it up every now and then. Especially if you're feeling frustrated because you've stopped seeing results.

"If your gains have stopped, don’t be afraid to switch your routine. Just because you like something doesn’t mean it is the best thing to do in order for you to hit your goals. Ask for advice from gym staff; you’ll be surprised by the different number of exercises you can do for different muscle groups. For instance if you want abs like Nicole Scherzinger but hate crunches, the plank position will be just as effective," Kieran says.

You can also chat with a fitness instructor or a personal trainer. If you have a specific goal in mind - maybe toned arms or a tight tummy - they can help you figure out how to change your routine accordingly.

3. Counting calories burned

Have you been counting - and counting on - the calories burned as determined by the little screen on your favorite elliptical machine? Unfortunately, it turns out these aren't as accurate as we'd like them to be.

"Don’t use cardio machines to count the calories you burn as the only factor of how hard you work," Kiernan says. "Everyone burns calories at a different rate depending on many different factors. A machine will not be able to tell you your exact expenditure - use them as a guide not as gospel."

Try not to think about the calories so much; you'll drive yourself crazy. Instead focus on intensifying - and enjoying - your time on and off the machines.

4. Being impatient

Working hard and not seeing results? It's easy to get impatient when you're hitting the gym on the reg, but you shouldn't let the lack of a visible change frustrate you just yet.

"So many people expect changes in a week, but consistency will be key in your goals," Kiernan says.

"Depending on how often you train and the intensity of your program it can take between four and eight weeks to see visible results. If you haven’t got that long, look into high intensity interval training (HIIT.) These workouts are not for the faint hearted but they aim to boost metabolism and melt away fat much quicker than a regular workout."

The good thing about HIIT or Tabata is that although it's crazy hard - it's also very fast, clocking in at around 30 minutes per workout. It's definitely with a shot if you're looking for a new challenge!​

5. Binging post-gym

You worked hard, so you deserve whatever you want to eat! Right? Not quite.

The more active you are, your appetite will increase. But it's not an excuse to house a sleeve of Oreos, sadly. Your workouts will be a waste if you don't treat your body as well on the inside as you are on the outside. Even if you are eating more, you still have to eat right.

"If muscle tone is your goal you’ll need to add more protein into each meal," Kiernan says. "Protein shakes are not just for body builders. Your muscles need refuelling after a workout in the correct way."

6. Doing too much, too soon

Many people go headfirst into a new workout regime, ready to hit the heavy weights and complete the toughest reps. But it's okay to start out slow. In fact, Kiernan advises that you curb your enthusiasm just a bit.

Going too hard, too fast can cause muscle fatigue and general burnout. When you're not having fun at the gym - or worse, hurting at it - you're far less likely to return.

"Learn the good form in all your exercises so you understand how the muscles are supposed to work when they are being contracted under the tension of the weights you are lifting."

Build up your strength. It'll pay off in the end!

7. Crunching too much

Somewhere along the line, crunches got a rep for being the best way to get a tight tummy. In reality, there are tons of other ways to carve out that stomach.

"Ask your instructor for tips on how to get the most from each exercise – they’ll be happy to help you!" Kiernan says. "Not only that, but one of the biggest things stopping people from achieving the perfect ‘6 pack’ is their actual body fat levels. It is really true when they say that abs are made in the kitchen. Good nutrition is key in revealing those abs."

You can also chew on flat belly foods to help carve out that stomach.

8. Being a copycat

Have you been quietly mirroring the moves of the girl with the bangin' bod at your gym? Tempting as this may be, Kieran explains that it's actually not the way to go.

"A lot of people know what works for them and if you copy them it doesn’t always relate to gains your end. Learn what works for you, the individual. No one is the same."

Don't learn by emulating others. Instead check out different types of exercise and make sure you ask an instructor or trainer to help you with your form.

9. Running on empty

Skipping meals + working out = faster weight loss, right? Nope. When you don't fuel your body properly, it cannot perform properly. End of story.

"Too many gym goers fuel their workout with just water and expect to lose weight and tone up faster," Kieran says. "But if you're doing your workouts on empty, you won't optimize your performance and can derail the progress you are making in your exercise plan."

​Even though you can't binge on junk post-gym, that doesn't mean you can't eat! Fill your tummy with whole, natural foods. Make sure you fuel properly before AND after your sweat sessions.

​"Ensure you take in a healthy and balanced diet including more greens, fruits and vegetables, or adding lean proteins to your diet. Sports nutrition supplements can complement your workout, depending on the result you want to achieve."

10. Pain = Gain

It's a common belief that being sore after a workout is an indicator that a workout was intentionally tough or super successful. But Kieran says that feeling pain post-workout should never be the desired end result.

​"Don’t use soreness as a guidance to whether you had a good workout or not. Just because you haven’t experienced DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) doesn’t instantly mean that your workouts are bad. It could be a major indicator that your body is recovering well and that your nutrition is spot on."

The next time you hear someone bragging about being sore, remember that feeling sore is not the end goal. Feeling - and looking - great are!

What's your favorite workout? Tweet us @wewomenUSA!

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