Make the most of your workout with these tips.

Exercising is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for good health. But one of the most important parts of exercising is ensuring you are doing so properly—and safely. There are several common “mistakes” in the fitness world. One of them is using improper technique. For example, you can risk a back injury if you arch your back while doing planks or weighted squats. 

Not only is it important to use proper form while exercising, but it’s also important to follow the three tips below. If you can recognize these three common workout mistakes and learn how to fix them—you’ll be set to reach your fitness goals and crush your workouts like never before!

How to fix workout mistakes

Mistake #1: Skipping warm-up

You need to warm-up your muscles so they’re more flexible before you put them to work. A warm-up is designed to gently prepare the body for the exercise you’re about to do, and increase both your heart rate and blood flow. This also helps loosen the joints and muscles and prepares them for activity, while helping to prevent injury.

Fix it: Warm up your muscles before your big workout with a few minutes of repetitive motion such as doing arm circles or performing jumping jacks. This will get blood, heat, and oxygen to your muscles and make them pliable to change. Stretching before you dive into your workout will also help better prepare your muscles.

Mistake #2: Being inconsistent 

With all of our busy schedules, existing commitments and never-ending to-do lists, it’s easy to fall off track when it comes to your fitness regime. Keeping an exercise log/schedule is important because it allows you to track your progress. If you skip a lot of days in a row or a few weeks, it can lower your endurance level and heighten your risk for injury (especially if you take a long break and then try to pick up where you left off).

But there’s two sides to it. While working out once in a blue moon is not as effective as working out more often, it is also important to note that you shouldn’t cram a week’s worth of exercise into a single session—as this can increase the risk for injury, and also lead to a burnout.

Similarly, a 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that circus performers who took two-day breaks in between performances actually lessened injury rates, but the rates rose again if the performers rested for three days or more.

Fix it: For many, the weekly goal for exercise should be around 150 minutes (the kind of exercise that gets your heart and lungs pumping). This could consist of shorter aerobic workouts (at least 20 minutes) per day, or longer workouts (at least 50 minutes) three times per week.

Mistake #3: Improper hydration

Water helps cushion your joints and stabilizes your blood pressure and heart rate. It is known that exercising causes you to lose water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium) when you sweat, and it also causes lactic acid to build up in your muscles (which can lead to muscle cramps)—yet many people still underestimate the power of hydration. 

The general guidelines are to drink 17–20oz of water three hours before exercising, another 8oz during your warm up (or 30 minutes before you start your workout), and 8oz of water within 30 minutes after exercising. Of course, these exact numbers vary per person, and can also depend on how much you sweat. For a more accurate calculation of how much water you should be drinking check out Camelbak’s Hydration Calculator

Fix it: Majority of people need six to eight cups of fluid per day, and more if they’re exercising. Hydrate well with water, fresh-pressed juice, or coconut water (without added sugars, of course!).

More Inspiration: Here’s a HIIT workout you can do anywhere!

Author: Charmaine Millaire is the editor for Optimyz magazine and a regular contributor. She is a graduate of King’s School of Journalism in Canada.

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