Exercisers Beware: The American Council on Exercises' Pros Divulge Most Common Workout Mistakes

Posted: Jun 24, 1998 in

SAN DIEGO - Wanna see a fitness professional sweat? Just engage in one of the ten most common workout mistakes made in health clubs and gyms across the country.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization in the world, called upon more than 3,000 ACE-certified fitness professionals across the country to give their take on the worst mistakes they see people making in the gym. At best, these mistakes may simply mean the difference between an effective and an ineffective workout, at worst, the mistakes can be more costly, leading to strain and injury.

Here’s a list of the ten most popular answers which also appear in the March/April issue of ACE FitnessMatters:

  1. Not stretching enough. The best time to stretch is immediately before and after aerobic activity. Before stretching, take a few minutes to warm up as stretching cold muscles can cause injury. Flexible muscles are far less likely to be strained or pulled than tight ones.

  2. Lifting too much weight. The best way to guarantee yourself an injury is to try to lift more weight than your muscles can handle. Gradual, progressive resistance is a far more effective—and safe—way to increase muscle strength.

  3. Not warming up prior to aerobic activity. Muscles need time to adjust to the new demands aerobic activity places on them. Rather than hitting the treadmill running, for example, take a few minutes to walk, build up to a light jog, and then hit your stride.

  4. Not cooling down after any type of workout. Too many people wrap up their workouts and head straight to the showers. Instead, take a few minutes to lower your heart rate and stretch your muscles. This will improve flexibility and help prepare the body for your next workout.

  5. Exercising too intensely. This is the primary vice of the weekend warrior, the individual who tries to fit a week’s worth of exercise into a Saturday afternoon. For weight loss, it’s more effective to sustain a moderate workout for longer periods of time than to exercise intensely for only a few minutes. For others, the expectation that a workout must be intense to be effective can lead some to burnout or injury, while others abandon their training altogether.

  6. Not drinking enough water. This cannot be said—or heard—too many times. Unless you’re exercising for more than two hours per day, water can fill all your fluid needs.

  7. Leaning heavily on the stairstepper. What’s the point of cranking the machine up to the highest level if you’re just going to support your weight on the siderails? It’s much more effective—not to mention easier on your wrists and elbows—to lower the intensity to the point at which you can maintain good posture while lightly resting your hands on the rails for balance.

  8. Not exercising intensely enough. You want results, but how hard are you willing to work to get them? While it’s true you don’t want to overdo it, you should exercise intensely enough to work up a light sweat, get your heart beating up into that training zone, and feel a sense of satisfaction for having completed your workout.

  9. Jerking while lifting weights. This goes along with number 2—lifting too much weight. The most effective way to train is to control the weight—the weight shouldn’t control you. When you have to jerk the weight, you’re likely jerking other muscles as well. This is can lead to strain and injury, with the muscles of the back being particularly vulnerable.

  10. Consuming energy bars and sports drinks during moderate workouts. Most agree that unless you’re working out for longer than two hours per day, you really don’t need to supplement with high-energy bars and drinks. High energy is often a code word for high calorie, which is the last thing someone who is trying to reduce their body weight needs. A healthy, well-rounded diet and plenty of water are sufficient to meet most exerciser’s needs.

ACE stresses the fundamental importance of using qualified fitness instructors as the number one way to ensure a safe and effective workout. When hiring an instructor who is currently certified by a reputable organization such as ACE, you are assured that instructor has met the requirements to design and implement fitness programs. ACE certification means the instructor has demonstrated knowledge in the areas of exercise science and programming - including anatomy, kinesiology, health screening, basic nutrition and instructional methods - as well as in emergency procedures and CPR. For the name of an ACE-certified fitness professional near you, call (800) 825-3636.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.

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