5 Common Mistakes in Exercise People make when trying to lose body fat
Everywhere you look there is a new way to exercise. Pilates, Yoga, Strength Training, Kettlebells, and the list goes on. For the general public, I can’t imagine how confusing it must be to know what to do! Heck, sometimes I find myself even getting confused! So, I wanted to write something direct and to the point about 5 common mistakes, people make when exercising, while keeping the most common goal in mind that we all have: fat loss!
#1 Not Lifting Weights
Strength training is the number one method of exercise to burn body fat, period! I can go to any good trainer or strength coach and they will say the same. Strength training (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight resistance etc.) is basically the only way that you can build muscle. Some will argue high-intensity sprints and interval training will (which I believe) but there is yet to be significant scientific evidence. Building muscle is the only way our body will increase its metabolism on a daily basis. That is how our resting metabolic rate (RMR) will burn more calories at rest. Aerobic training (running) can not do this.
#2 Performing too much steady state cardio
In years past we have been told to do the wrong thing for cardiovascular work to burn body fat and raise our metabolism. Many trainers will recommend that people hop on the good old Elliptical or treadmill and go at a moderate pace for 30-60 minutes in order to burn body fat. Sorry to tell you this but that won’t do much good. Yes, you will burn some calories, but no, your metabolism will not increase. It will for the time that you are on the machine, but very soon after it will plummet back to normal and maybe even decrease due to a rise in that nasty hormone cortisol.
I can show you a way to burn more body fat and increase your metabolism for hours after your workout is done. Just give me five minutes, but then you might puke! Don’t get me wrong, steady state cardio is a good stress reliever, good for people trying to start a fitness program, and for rehab purposes, but it is NOT good for fat loss.
#3 Thinking that walking will burn fat and raise the metabolism
All those walkers will hate me out there, but walking will not increase the metabolism or burn much body fat. Now don’t misunderstand me, walking is a great form of exercise, is fun to do with a group, a great starting point, and it does burn some calories, but you can’t do it forever if you really want to shed some pounds.
A lot of people will say that you burn more fat as fuel during long duration, low intensity walking. This is true, but so does sitting on the couch watching TV! That research is behind the times and is not up to date. As I always point out, look at a sprinter and look at a runner. In the Olympics, the average male runner is between 11-15% body fat. An Olympic sprinter is between 3-6% body fat. This implies the faster you move, the leaner and more muscular you will be, thus having a higher metabolic rate.
#4 Not working hard enough when you are at the gym
I will always commend those who even make it to the gym. I understand how busy people’s lives are these days, and I know it is even a miracle sometimes if you can consistently make it in 3 times a week. But please, if you are one who is able to make it to the gym on a consistent basis please, make the most of your time and money! Please! For the male population what I mostly see if lifting too heavy with bad form, and not pushing their pace fast enough to even break a sweat and breathe hard. Put it this way, if you are not sweating or berthing slightly heavy most of the time you are slacking.
For women, I would like to see you lift heavier and harder. I will PROMISE you that lifting heavy weights WILL NOT make you big and bulky! Eating too much will. Unless you are a genetic freak (maybe 1% of the human population) you will not get huge muscles. You just don’t have the hormones. If it were that easy all guys who lift weights would be huge, and that is far from the truth. Lifting harder and heavier builds more muscle, which in turn increases the metabolism and burns more body fat.
#5 Not looking to a professional for training advice
I may sound biased on this, but it will make a huge difference if you have someone who is knowledgeable help you set something up. Would you prescribe yourself a medication with a doctor’s advice? Do you want your kids to play a competitive sport without a coach? Probably not. So why start an exercise program without consulting a fitness professional? At the very least research and read what the best things are for your fitness goals via internet, books, published articles, and even some magazines.
A better idea is to hire a fitness professional so they can identify your specific needs. And remember, you don’t have to train with your trainer all of the time. You can just consult with them every month, every other month, or even once a year just to get some new ideas and address any current issues you may be having.
Losing body fat is hard work, but not impossible. My next article will focus on common mistakes that we make nutritionally.