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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Our Worst Fitness Habits: Six Roadblocks to Sidestep

by Tosca Reno

We all know that working out is beneficial. But how you work out makes all the difference in staying safe, seeing better results and keeping your body balanced. Here’s how to make sure you aren’t sabotaging a good workout.

1. Bad form. Correct form is your safety net. Once you compromise the way you do a move, you’re no longer getting the greatest benefits from the exercise, and you’re seriously increasing your risk of getting hurt. Even if it means, for example, lightening up the amount of resistance, follow the correct form for the best results.

2. Over-training. Don’t expect that you are going to dive right in and pound your body into its best shape ever overnight. Not only will this all-or-nothing approach cause burnout, but you also risk injury and will give up on yourself, because this is an unreasonable expectation. Instead, you need to gradually build up your muscles so they get the most effective and efficient workout possible. More doesn’t always mean better, faster results. Remember, rest is good for the body. Take days off between training to repair and rebuild or if you’re training daily, don’t work the same muscle groups back-to-back.

3. Under-training. Once you’re dressed and ready to sweat, commit to giving it your all for the next 30 to 60 minutes. Just going through the motions doesn’t do much for the body and makes it easy for boredom to creep in. You owe this time to yourself—you deserve it—so make sure you give it your all.

4. Daydreaming. You can develop a laser-sharp focus by actively involving your mind in every pose, set, rep and step—thinking about how your body moves, how the muscles engage, which muscle or muscles you’re using and correct form. Mindfulness adds up to a better workout and faster results. So forget about the laundry, the kids’ schedules and that afternoon conference call, turn off the TV and stay 100 percent in the moment.

5. Staying with a few exercises you know. Your muscles love being challenged, so if you just stick to the same routine, they’ll eventually adapt and won’t have to work as hard to do the same moves. But if you change the exercises and even the order you do them in, you ensure that muscles don’t get too efficient with any single routine. Not only is this better for toning, but it also helps your mind stay focused and engaged.

6. Holding your breath. Regular steady breathing has many benefits: Proper inhalations and exhalations can help you power through moves, keep lactic acid (a byproduct that builds up in the muscles during exertion) at bay and help maintain a steady heart rate. A full breath delivers the maximum amount of oxygen to the blood, which in turn delivers more energy to the working muscles.

Tosca Reno is the co-author of Your Best Body Now, excerpted here with permission from Harlequin Books S.A.

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