Five Common Fitness Mistakes

I have started blogging about fitness as I am all for sharing my knowledge with my clients and friends and not keeping it to myself.  I do not believe that fitness should be a mystery or something to be feared or get bored by and I am a Personal Trainer because I want to facilitate this for people.   Having been a Personal Trainer in London and a Personal Trainer in St. Albans for a number of years I see repeated fitness mistakes being made when somebody is trying to get fit and/or lose some weight.  This blog came to me over the last few weeks while speaking to a number of people in St. Albans about their health and fitness goals and seem to be stuck in a rut with nothing working.  Take a look at the five common fitness mistakes below and see if you can break your plateau.

Crash and Faddy Dieting 

When you lose weight too quickly your body is typically losing only glycogen (carbohydrate fuel), water and muscle and just a bit of fat.  Your body is also incredibly clever at holding onto fuel as fat.  Therefore, if the body thinks it is starving it reduces its metabolic rate to protect itself and to store more fuel as fat.  As muscle is lost due to crash dieting, your metabolic rate has decreased even further as muscle needs lots of fuel to work well.  When your metabolic rate is low it makes it harder for your body to burn each calorie. When you start eating normally again after your crash diet your body stores as much energy as it can into your fat cells, just in case there is another famine.  With this process you end up putting on all the weight you lost and more!  You should be looking to lose between 1-2lb on the scales per week for this process not to happen.  Eat five small meals and snacks regularly every three hours to avoid your body going into ‘famine’ mode to keep your metabolism burning efficiently.  Do not be tempted with the latest fad diet, as well as losing the weight too fast cutting out complete food groups can affect your nutritional balance in so may ways.  Look to cut out sugar and highly processed food and shop for real food with lots of nutritional value, variety and natural colour.

Sit up’s or similar before you are ready

Everybody wants a toned flat stomach which seems to be more elusive as you get older and have children.  A common mistake is thinking that hundred’s of sit-up’s or going to ab classes will decrease your stomach.  A sit up is quite an advanced move and by doing it you could end up pushing your stomach out and giving yourself a ‘postman’s paunch’.  If your core is not strong you could also injure your back muscles as they are over recruited and take on the strain.  Core exercises should be carried out accurately and at the right intensity for you for them to work effectively.  Start off your abs regime by doing low level muscle activations slowly and correctly.  These exercises will teach you how to pull everything in rather than teaching them to be pushed out with sit-ups.  When you are aware of all your core muscles and you have control of them slowly increase the intensity and then become more dynamic.  Post-natal mums need to also be aware of abdominal separation known as Diastasis Recti.  This is a very common condition which occurs during late pregnancy when the rectus abdominus (the six pack muscle) splits as the baby grows bigger.  If you do have abdominal separation doing sit-up’s after childbirth will increase the split and will push your stomach out further.  Good news is that you can do exercises to encourage the abdominals back together with careful post-natal exercises, ask for specific post-natal trained fitness person to talk you through safe rehabilitation exercises for the core.

Doing all cardio and no resistance work

Hitting the treadmill, running and doing other cardio exercise is good for you as we all know, but this should not be your only form of exercise.  After the age of 35 we can lose 1lb of muscle a year if are not exercising correctly.  This means by the time you are 45 there is a possibility that you could have lost 10lbs of muscle (or more if you have yo-yo
dieted over the years)!!  Losing muscle will significantly affect your metabolic rate, derease your fat burning capability and clothes won’t hang or fit as well as they used to.  This is also why you may not have had a weight issue in your twenties but you do now.  One way to keep your metabolic furnace burning is to sustain your level of muscle; this can be achieved through functional weight bearing resistance exercises.  All is not lost as a good metabolic rate can return with the right training and eating.  This doesn’t mean you need to build muscle bulk, just long, lean and strong muscle that will give you a great shape so your clothes will look good on you.

Doing the same old work out routine

We all do it, stick to what we know and what worked before. Our bodies are very clever at adapting to exercise and therefore the workout you have been doing for months or even years ceases to make a difference.  Our bodies need variety and to be pushed just a little harder to make progression.  The adaptation in our bodies usually takes place between five to six weeks.  Therefore, we all need to vary our workouts just that little bit after five to six weeks for us to notice the benefits.  Your workout routine can progress in simple ways and you only have to pick one or two changes until another five to six weeks time.  The changes you can choose from can be increasing the weights slightly, increasing reps or sets, doing an exercise on an unstable surface (e.g. standing on one leg or using a bosu/wobble board) or changing the type of equipment.

Isolating Muscles (if not in rehabilitation)

Our muscles work in synergy with each other and our movements in life do not involve using just one muscle at a time.  Therefore, unless you are rehabilitating a specific muscle or maybe you are entering a body building contest there is no point just doing for example doing bicep curls.  In the fitness industry some trainers have moved away from the old school type of training and train for ‘function’ and get you fit for purpose and for life.  Get off the resistance machines you have been sitting on for years and start using the free weights and functional equipment.  There is also another plus to functional training – it burns more calories because you are using more muscles, how good is that!

I hope this helps people and if you would like to know any more please email me at


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