The 4 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Exercising

Plus, how to avoid making them during your next workout.

By: Nicole Teitler

When it comes to our workouts, some days are easier than others. Some days we’re motivated, energized, and ready to kick some major calorie butt. Others, simply rolling out the exercise mat, feels like the accomplishment. That is why, no matter what sort of day you’re having, it’s important to tackle your workout prepared and avoid making certain fitness mistakes.

Fortunately, the most common errors are easy to identify because many of us make them. So, since we’re all about improving ourselves — mind and body — we’ve identified the top fitness mistakes and how to avoid them during your next workout. 

4 Common Fitness Mistakes + How to Avoid Making Them 

#1 Not Having a Routine (Even a Loose Routine Can Go a Long Way!) 

Some days pressing the snooze button for the second (fine, third) time is far more appealing than working out. The motivation is lost (we’ve all been there). But you’re better than your alarm clock. You have goals to achieve. So, maybe you skipped your typical morning sweat sesh and opted for a mid-day or evening endorphins boost. While it’s okay to spontaneously jump into a workout, having a routine may help keep us on track on the days our motivation is dragging. 

Evidence suggests that having a routine of any kind may help reduce stress, improve sleep, and may lead to overall better health. Your exercise routine is no exception, so consider carving out a certain amount of time to get moving or select your workouts for the week in the FitOn app and set reminders that’ll give you that gentle push to press play on your next workout. 

#2 Improper Rest Time

What is your goal during your workout? Did you know that determines your rest time between sets? Research suggests that different training goals should receive different interval rest periods. Longer periods, such as 2 to 5 minutes, are generally used during power and strengthening in order to optimize greater recovery. On the other hand, 30 to 90 seconds are best for muscular hypertrophy, and under 30 seconds should be used for endurance training.

Okay, but what does it all really mean? To avoid making a super common fitness mistake, consider taking a look at how long your current rest times are and adjust where needed. It may be what you need to keep yourself motivated and powering through your workouts. 

#3 Not Focusing On Form

Ever feel like your back is aching after a squat? Or your neck is in pain from all those crunches? It’s likely because you’re rushing through without taking the time to focus on the movement itself. When it comes to working out, there are two methods; doing what’s right or doing what’s easy. But here’s the good news— if you practice the first part, the latter will come naturally.

Practicing proper form can feel like a challenge in the beginning. However, taking the time to perfect your motions will help you avoid long-term injury and prevent the creation of future fitness mistakes. 

Things like:

  • Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed
  • Have a tight core
  • Bend the knees and keep them parallel
  • Eyes forward and chin parallel to the floor

The above form tips can be applied to nearly every workout. Practice makes perfect. Don’t stress if it takes some time. That whole ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ adage is true for a reason. Build your coliseum one proper motion at a time. You’ll see better results faster by doing a workout correctly.

#4 Skipping The Warm-up and Recovery

Stretching before and after a workout not only makes you more flexible, but it increases range of motion, promotes better posture, and reduces both stress and tension. Yet, many people make a common fitness mistake by glossing over it entirely. 

Warming up doesn’t always have to immediately precede or follow a workout, and that’s what makes it the most fun. You can stretch first thing in the morning, between work calls, or while lying down. The time is always right.

If you need help on how to stretch, a good recommendation is to buy a foam roller. This simple piece of equipment has been shown to enhance stretching, similar to a deep tissue massage. 

Foam rolling feels great when using it on:

  • The buttocks. Sit on the foam roller with one leg crossed over the opposite knee. 
  • Your upper leg. Go into a cobra pose and place the roller under your upper leg.
  • The calf. Sit on the ground and press your calf into the roller.
  • Be sure to move motions forward/back and side/side to release all tension.

If you’re the type of person that likes to relax before bed, these evening stretch routines are a great way to show your tight muscles some love, while also calming the mind and body before bed. 

Maximize Your Next Workout 

How does it feel knowing you’re one step closer to crushing your fitness goals? Pretty good, right? Being mindful of the four fitness mistakes above is a key component in maximizing your next workout. Remember, it’s okay if you slip once in a while. What’s important is being mindful moving ahead.