If you've been hitting the gym regularly for a few weeks but don't feel like you're making much progress, it could be that you're making a few common mistakes that stop you from achieving your full potential. From the order of exercises to incorrect warm-ups, we take a look at the top 10 mistakes to avoid in your fitness routine…
Make sure to warm-up properly before your workout
Drinking too much water
If you're preparing to workout and realise you haven't drunk much water, don't try to quickly make up for it by drinking lots immediately as this could backfire. Kidneys can process around one litre of water an hour – so if you overdo it, you could be risking damage. It is important to stay hydrated during a workout however – try and drink every 15 minutes, but if you start to feel thirsty don't limit yourself.
Having a pre-gym snack
While you should never exercise on an empty stomach, if you need to have a pre-gym snack make sure to eat at least an hour before your workout to avoid cramps or indigestion. Bananas, oats or fruit and yoghurt can make great light options, as they are packed with vital nutrients for any fitness regime.
Not warming up properly
It is important to warm-up before any workout, but this needs to be gradual to give your muscles time to ease into the routine. For example, if you're going to be doing cardio take 10 minutes to walk on an inclined treadmill. Power walking, jumping jacks or squat thrusts are a great way of preparing your body – however try to avoid static stretching (for example trying to touch your toes) as this could actually injure your muscles.
Try to avoid including too much cardio in your fitness routine
Doing too much cardio
If you're working towards muscle definition, including too much cardio in your workout can 'eat away' at the muscle mass. These exercises are also designed to put a healthy level of stress on the heart to keep it healthy and toned – this increases blood pressure temporarily but is not necessarily beneficial for most people, particularly those with medical conditions. If you're unsure you should contact your GP.
Exercising in the wrong order
Whether your goal is to tone and strengthen your muscles, or if you're looking to lose weight, the order of the workouts you do is just as important as the exercise itself. For example, weight training should be done before you hit the treadmill or cross trainer as weight lifting improves the intensity of how much your muscles can handle – and if this is after cardio, they will be much weaker.
Not mixing up workouts enough
If you're going to the same class every single week, or following the same routine at the gym, after a while your body hits a plateau as it becomes used to the exercise. Mixing up your regime whether it's going for a jog or trying a new class occasionally will help to keep raising your fitness levels and keep you as healthy as ever.
Making sure to stay hydrated and refuelling after a workout is key to staying in shape
Not refuelling properly after the workout
Diet is just as important as exercise – and a post-workout meal can support all of your hard work. Amino acids from proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables are all essential to this process – try dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, and beef or organic eggs.
Sitting on the couch to relieve muscle pain
Muscles and joints feeling sore? It may be tempting to sit down and rest but actually a brisk walk could be more effective in relieving the pain. However, if you're worried about the pain, visit your GP to ensure you haven't done any damage.