Top five fitness faux pas
We could be undermining our efforts with these common fitness faux pas. One father at Little Athletics competitions always stood out.
He would ply his kids with fizzy drinks and lollies right before they were about to race, taking pre-race carb loading to a whole new misguided level.
Unsurprisingly, the lolly load did not put the spring in their sprint.
Rather, I would watch with morbid curiosity to see whether they would make it down the track without vomiting.
It’s not just overzealous parents who, with the best intentions, misinterpret the guidelines.
Many of us inadvertently get it wrong when we’re trying to get it right.
Zero to 100
Going too hard too fast is a common one, says Scott Gooding of the Scott Gooding Project and Paleo Foodies.
“People often embrace a new, healthier approach to life in response to an event, for example new year resolutions or a health scare, and proceed with gusto – often leading to overuse injuries and soft tissue injuries,” Gooding says.
They then tend to drop off the radar.
“They need to ease in to a training program,” Flow Athletic’s Ben Lucas says. “This helps build the foundation for a good technique and good results without injury.”
Going zero to 100 in one style of fitness can be equally problematic; something runners and CrossFitters seem to lead the way on.
“In a bid to lose weight, people often go straight to cardio [long and slow],” Gooding says. “It is our genetic genotype to be lean, so review the diet and embracing a weights-based HIIT will yield better results.”
Thinking running is the fastest way to lose weight and get fit is rife, Guy Lawrence, of 180 Nutrition says.
“They don’t understand that you don’t have to work out a lot to lose weight, it’s quite the opposite,” he says. “The benefits of moving and lifting weights [for everyone] include improved bone density, mood, blood lipids, insulin sensitivity, strong lean muscle and better sleep. Too much exercise (cardio in particular) raises cortisol levels [stress hormone] and can lead to low-grade inflammation.”
Stuck in a rut
Mixing it up keeps our metabolism mobilised, but it has other benefits too.
“High intensity training every day or focusing on only one type of exercise without yoga or mobility work to help the body recover [is an injury risk],” Lucas says.
“Your body is a web of interconnected tissue and it needs to be moved in a myriad of different ways to stay in tip-top shape, avoid hitting a plateau, maintain effective movement and keep your tissues hydrated,” adds Agoga’s Libby Babet.
It’s not just about tip-top shape but about our body’s ability to move, says Fitness First’s Michael Cunico.
“If you move frequently in different patterns your body will feed off this movement and you will build movement capability,” Cunico says. “Conversely if you only feed your body the same patterns or positions, over time you may ‘lose’ the ability to move in other ways.”
Fit and unhealthy
“I’ve witnessed a heap of people over the years that smash themselves in the gym and rarely miss a session but their diet/nutrition is shocking,” Gooding says. “It would appear that they haven’t joined the dots between good nutrition and performance output.
“These people may be strong, but I would question how healthy they are, and encourage them to be as disciplined with their food as they are with their training.”
Guy Lawrence agrees that underestimating the impact of nutrition is a common mistake.
“They don’t embrace the benefits of recovery for overall wellness,” Lawrence says. “This entails an anti-inflammatory diet, quality sleep, reducing stress.
“Getting up at 5.15am to crush a daily bootcamp, rewarding yourself with a coffee and banana bread afterwards while stressing about getting to work on time: not the answer.”
No time, no problem
Babet agrees that a little consistency makes a lot of difference.
“Rather than looking at working out and healthy eating as something to be done strictly for a week or a month to ‘detox’, you really do have to acknowledge that it is the sum of small, daily efforts that’s more important,” Babet says.
Adds Cunico: “Nothing stops you from taking five minutes at your desk to simply move, not at high intensity but to ensure you place your body in a position other than flexed at ankle, knee and hips.”
Back to fitness
Some of us were lucky enough to have a ballet teacher with bitter, unfulfilled dreams of becoming Margot Fonteyn.
For those who never did, and subsequently weren’t poked and prodded until they paid attention to their posture, slouching will not only affect your ballet aspirations, but other exercises too.
“Perfecting your posture is step number one on the path to a healthy, lean body, so make sure you pay attention to how you’re standing, before you start moving,” Babet advises.
“A few simple things to be aware of are maintaining length in your spine, leading rotational movements with your hips, activating your shoulder blades and making sure that you protect your lower back in overhead or plank positions by activating your glutes, tucking your tail a little and firing up all the muscles below your navel.”