Juggling work and a family often makes a trip to the gym feel like an accomplishment—but that’s half the battle. Some common mistakes can make a workout session less productive. Since opportunities to exercise are limited, it’s important to make the most of them. Experts revealed the five habits you need to kick to the curb for better workout results.
Moving at One Pace
You burn less fat and build less muscle when you stick to a slow or moderate pace during cardio workouts, said Gabrielle Bolin, a certified personal trainer and owner of Long Island based in-home personal training company Fit By Gab. Instead, repeat 30 seconds of pushing yourself to go as fast as you can followed by 30 seconds of rest. Since speeding up makes your heart rate jump, you burn more calories than you would 60 seconds at a steady pace.
Not Drinking Water
There are a ton of drinks out there that claim to hydrate you during workouts or help you build muscle, but don’t be fooled: Nothing does that job like water, said Bolin. In fact, some sports drinks actually dehydrate you because they contain caffeine. Others like Gatorade are good for replacing electrolytes after a long workout. But after a regular one, they won’t replace much except the calories you’ve burned.
Working Out One Body Part at a Time
Cable machines may be easier to use than weights, but the downside is that they usually only engage one body part. Instead of sitting while you exercise your arms on the pull-down machine, grab a pair of dumbbells or barbells and do squats as you hold them over your shoulders. You’ll work your arms and your core, butt and legs.
Skimping on Sleep
Your muscles need at least seven and a half hours of sleep to recover and grow from a workout, said personal trainer, coach and powerlifter Robert S. Herbst. Your muscles can experience micro tears during workouts, and overnight, your body produces the testosterone and human growth hormone they need to heal. Sleep deprivation not only makes building muscle harder but also leaves you more prone to injury.
Following a Poor Diet
Building muscle requires protein. Herbst recommended consuming a gram of protein per day for every two pounds you weigh. Carbs and fats are also necessary to restore a supply of glycogen, which gives muscles the energy they need to grow and to exercise. Calcium is also important for the chemical reactions that repair micro tears. “A diet of junk food or an unbalanced diet will not do the trick,” said Herbst.