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As a personal trainer with 10 years of experience helping clients transform their bodies, I see a lot of bad and dangerous exercise habits when people first walk into our studio. Most stem from what people have learned from a friend at the gym or something they read in a health magazine. Sadly, a lot of ‘common knowledge’ is ill-informed and not backed up by any credible research or science.

To try and curb this trend, I’ve outlined five of the most common ‘bad habits’ we see almost every week.

1. To Stretch or Not To Stretch

The simple answer is, it depends on the exercise routine or training session you are about to perform. It turns out that about 80% of all ‘sports’ injuries are caused during stretching. Most people have no clue how to stretch and when you think about it logically it makes perfect sense that poorly executed stretches would cause injury. We take a nice cold muscle and hyperextend it into some position that it was rarely intended to go and then we wonder why fibres snap and break causing a ‘sports’ injury. Warming up a muscle would serve a much higher purpose.

However, warming-up and stretching are really only necessary if you are about to perform a routine that has the potential to hyperextend your muscles. Dancing, ice-skating, gymnastics, running are great examples of workouts that I would never undertake without a skillfully executed warm up.

The takeaway here, If you’re performing a routine (running, swimming etc.), warm up and then stretch. If you’re lifting weight, no stretching necessary. No muscle on your body should ever be stretched beyond its normal range of motion with the aid of weight.

2. Resting Between Sets

Your ultimate goal when working out is simple: lift your maximum weight, at the maximum intensity possible. Why?

When we workout we have ‘the option’ of instructing your body to produce growth hormone, thus increasing muscle mass and zapping fat. Unfortunately, as we get older we produce less and less growth hormone. However, there is one way you can ‘instruc’t your body to release growth hormone very easily and it’s through intense workouts. Intense workouts do not include watching tv as you climb on a stepping machine or reading a book as you peddle a stationary bike.

Intense workouts constitute maximum focus, maximum weight, maximum intensity. Rest between exercises do not aid this process whatsoever. In fact, rests will aid nothing but the opposite of producing growth hormone. Sure, you can stop between sets to catch your breath, we’re not advocating robotic workouts and we all have our limits, but GO AGAIN as soon as you can.

3. Go Easy On The Water

Most new clients believe that drinking water during a workout is mandatory or even worse,
drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day is the recommended daily amount we should be consuming. Unfortunately, this is one of those common understandings which has no basis in scientific fact or research. Sure, we need to drink water but we cringe when we see new clients bring a gallon drum of water to their workouts to ‘rehydrate’.

Listen to your body. Stay hydrated, yes. Drink when you need to, not because you read that you have to.

4. Pre-Workout Shakes

Pre-workout shakes are usually nothing but glorified candy shakes packed with sugar, chemicals and low-grade whey protein powders. They taste great, but because most of the chemicals inside are concealed with masses of sugar. Steer clear. Eat real food like half an avocado with some protein at least one hour before your workout so your body has proper fuel to digest and burn. Stay away from anything that will deliver a spike of sugar which will leave you feeling burned out very quickly.

5. Realistic Expectations

When newcomers dive in, we notice that many want to achieve their goal as quickly as humanly
possible. They often try and overcompensate for the all the bad stuff they’ve been doing until
now and expect a massive result in a week. When it doesn’t happen their ego is deflated and the ambition is lost. Working out, training and being fit and healthy does not happen over night. It’s a lifelong lifestyle choice. Sure, times will come up when we want to look super good like a vacation or a wedding and that’s totally fine. But those events should require a little fine tuning and extra effort at the gym, not a last ditched attempt to compensate for a life of bad eating decisions and sedentary habits.

Thanks for reading and live life to the fullest friends!

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