So you’ve decided to start a programme of exercise. You are wired, determined, ambitious, hopeful, but the reality is there’s a chance that your good resolutions won’t last, that your dreams of a fit and healthy new you might never materialise.
If you really want to succeed in your worthwhile quest, here are ten schoolboy errors to avoid.
1 Trying to do too much too soon – Ironically, a classic rookie error is to come to a new exercise regime bursting with enthusiasm and impatience, and end up over stretching yourself. This leads to early burnout, boredom, and simply finding the whole thing unmanageable. Pace yourself. You’re in this for the long haul.
2 Not varying your workout – If you always concentrate on one type of exercise, you will only develop fitness in that area. For all-round toning and fitness, do cardiovascular exercises as well as lifting weights, or exercise your lower half as well as your upper body.
3 Failure to do research – Whatever your chosen form of exercise, there is probably a lot more to it than meets the eye, so do some research before you start. Let those who have already trodden the path be your guides.
4 Ignoring the importance of the recovery period – If you don’t take care of your body after strenuous exercise, you will not only ache, but your fitness won’t improve as much as it should. Your body needs rehydrating, and it needs carbohydrates to replenish your depleted glycogen stores. Your muscle cells will need repairing, which will require protein, and a sports supplement can help with this. Don’t forget to stretch.
5 Not warming up – If you don’t warm up properly, you could well pull a muscle, putting you out of action and scuppering your new exercise regime before you even get started. Research an appropriate warm-up routine for your chosen activity and follow it every single time.
6 Not having a goal – Goal-setting is an important tool in your fitness programme. Without a goal to work towards, it is easy to get sidetracked, dispirited and derailed. Setting a clear goal gives you something to focus on when things get tough. And chances are, things will get tough.
7 Setting an unrealistic goal – Unrealistic goals lead to failure and loss of motivation. Make your goals SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. So instead of saying you want to lose weight, say you want to lose 6lb in the next 30 days.
8 Not eating enough protein – When you embark on a fitness programme, your protein requirements increase. If you don’t meet this need, your muscles will be burned for energy, making you weaker, rather than stronger. Reassess your protein needs. A whey protein shake could be beneficial.
9 Not using appropriate supplements – Success will be down to both exercise and nutrition, and supplements can play an important role in achieving the optimal balance in your diet.
10 Not drinking enough water – Dehydration impairs both mental and physical performance. Exercise suppresses thirst, so you can’t rely on feeling thirsty to warn you when all that sweating is starting to render you dehydrated. Drink regularly,