By Eric Astrauskas, Spec. Hons. B.A. (Kinesiology), P.T.S.
1. Improper breathing or holding breath.
It is all too frequent that I see red faces holding their breaths as they lift heavy. This is an easy way to increase your blood pressure and burst a vessel in your eye, or even worse - your brain. I also see exercisers inhaling as they are executing the movement. Exhale during exertion and use your abs.
2. Rounding or Excessively Arching Back
This is another dangerous error that I see most frequently with people doing squats or deadlifts or even lunges. Make sure your back is straight or you make suffer strained lower back muscles or a slipped disc. Improper techniques are also common with seated shoulder presses and incline presses. If you have to arch your back and turn these exercises into flat presses, your shoulders are too weak for them. This sway back also causes stress on the discs.
3. Buckling knees and knee passing over toes.
If your knees are buckling, you are lifting too heavy and potentially you may have a muscular imbalance between the vastus lateralus and vastus medialis (or outer and inner quadriceps muscles). Keep your knees behind your toes or you will be overly stretching your knee ligaments.
4. Poor range of motion and using rocking for momentum.
Sometimes it is good to focus on parts of the range of motion to stress the muscle along the force curve. But if you always train without full range of motion, your muscles will not grow to their maximum potential. If you are using a rocking motion to lift the weight, it is probably too heavy for you. Suck it up and accept this shot to your ego.
Spending hours at a time at the gym will likely hamper potential gains. If your workouts are more than 2 hours at a time, you are either socializing too much or your training is not intense enough. Spending this much time exercising will elevate your cortisol levels and hamper any muscle building or fat burning goals.
6. Doing steady-state aerobics in the “fat burning zone” in hopes of losing fat.
Steady-state routines are ineffective and boring (at least to me). Try to: mix up your routine, use different cardio machines at different intensities, try high intensity interval training, sprint training, plyometrics, or play a variety of sports. These methods will help you achieve your fat loss goals.
7. Not stretching after training.
If you think stretching and yoga is for sissies or too boring, you are probably limiting your potential. Extra time away from training due to injuries suffered from having tight muscles will definitely impede your progress.
8. Poor eating habits in and around workout.
Training on an empty stomach – how intense can you actually train without fuel? However, fasted cardio training once or twice per week is effective for burning fat.
Not having a recovery meal after a workout – you have to repair the microscropic muscular damage as quickly as possible after your workout.
Drinking coffee after a workout – you want to be hydrated during and after a workout. Also, caffeine elevates cortisol and promotes fat storage. It also prevents muscle gains.
Not consuming electrolytes during a workout – low levels of electrolytes lead to cramping, dizziness (due to drop in blood pressure), poor recovery, and early fatigue. Those are just a few problems when you are not properly hydrating during a workout.
9. Unrealistic goals in unrealistic time frame.
Set short and long term goals that are measureable, and attainable. Understand your genetic limitations. Building muscle and reducing fat requires patience and dedication.
10. Drastic diet changes, elimination diets.
Eat healthy and have a diet that you can maintain. "Fat burner" supplements may assist you with your goals but how long can you live on stimulants?
11. Poorly programmed routines with no clear goal and periodization.
A well structured program with varied cycles and a long term plan will help you get the results you are hoping to achieve
12. Too much focus on goal rather than the process.
With this you cannot really truly enjoy training for the long term.