If you’re looking to really make that workout count then here are some common fitness mistakes to avoid.
Not having a plan
It's like the old saying: fail to plan, plan to fail. All too often people go to the gym or workout at home on a regular basis with no real progressive plan. They may have a general idea of what they are doing but nothing concrete. They change and hit the gym floor and then have to make a decision on where to start which usually ends up with jumping on a treadmill or maybe doing some bicep curl cause they have no real clue what they need to do. But you can avoid fitness mistakes.
Use a well-designed progressive fitness plan that is specific to your needs, goals, and level. It may take a little time and maybe even cost a few dollars more but it is absolutely essential to success and results.
Sticking to one "routine"
A lot of people think they have a plan when what they really have is just a go-to routine. If you call it a "workout routine" then it has become routine. And if it has become routine, then it is no longer working. We need progression in our workouts, so they should be getting harder as we are getting fitter and stronger.
If you have done the same workout more than twice in a row then it's time to change to something different. If you use the same DVD workout or go to the same group class week in week out then it is time to change. Try something new; incorporate a different style of training, instead of working out inside in the gym or your basement, gets outside. Instead of always doing cardio based workouts or only lifting weights try mixing them together for more of a HIIT style program.
Performing single joint over multi-joint movements
Small, single joint exercise, like bicep curls, are usually what most people think of when you think weight training. People will often neglect or underuse the bigger, more effective multi-joint movements such as squats, deadlifts, cleans, push ups, pull ups for the smaller exercises such as biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, leg extensions, leg curls, crunches.
As a general rule your workouts should consist of 80% multi-joint, compound, functional movements and 20% single-joint, isolated movements. Perform these larger exercises at the beginning of your workouts and the smaller exercises towards the end. Always try to incorporate at least one large movement for legs, chest, back, shoulders, torso or core before doing any smaller exercises.
Doing what you like, not what you need
When it comes to exercise, most people will choose something that they like rather than what they need. Performing random exercises because you like them usually results in poor results, imbalances, and possible injuries.
Solution: Figure out what your goals are and create a progressive overall plan that focuses on these goals and stick to it. Plans can always be modified and updated to include new and varied things.
Working out for too long
That 2-3 hour workout you like to brag about is doing more harm than good. There is an optimal workout length and a certain point where more can be counterproductive. It comes down to quality or quantity. If you are spending that long in the gym chances are you are wasting a lot of that time just hanging out instead of working out.
Keep your workouts to less than 1 hour at a time. In general, a full body strength-training workout with 8-10 exercises should take between 45-60mins, no more. For cardio based workouts even if you are doing plain old steady state, a 45-60mins workout is long enough. It is also ok to perform multiple short workouts in a day rather than one long one.
Warming up then Static Stretching before working out
The warm-up is a valuable part of any workout but only when done correctly. I constantly see people performing a perfectly good 10-15min warm up only to go ahead and ruin it spending the next 10mins static stretching. This only serves to cool you down again. An overwhelming amount of recent research is leaning toward the idea that static stretching before working out is unnecessary and doesn’t provide any benefits.
Save your static stretching until the end. It’s a great way to cool down and relax after a good hard workout. If you want to "stretch" before a work do it before you warm up or better yet do dynamic mobility movement instead of static stretches.
Not adequately resting between sets
We all know we need to rest between workouts to allow for recovery but most of us don't know that resting adequately between sets is often just as important. Too often people skimp on or skip resting between sets altogether, as they feel it not necessary or a waste of time. This can greatly affect results. If you don't need to rest between sets then chances are you're not working hard enough.
You should be resting a minimum of 30secs between sets. A general rule of thumb for rest is the heavier the weight you use, the fewer the reps you will perform but the more rest you will need. Resting is not wasted time; it is essential for recovery and ultimately results.
Not using the correct weight and/or using the same weight for all exercises
This is somewhat of a gender issue. Women will usually use a weight that is too light while men will try to use too heavy a weight. Both can have a negative impact on results. Too light a weight and you're not going to stimulate the systems adequately. Too much and you run the risk of injury.
Choosing the right weight to use can be a bit of trial and error in the beginning but once you start to figure it out you should be able to guesstimate pretty closely. You should start off on the lighter side, for example, if you are performing 10 reps, the last 2 or 3 should be a struggle but not impossible. If they are too easy then increase, if they are too hard then decrease. A general rule is to increase upper body exercises by 2.5-5lbs and lower body by 5-10lbs increments.