You workout to get the most out of life, I get it. After all, use it or lose it is the golden rule! You put so much time and effort into your workouts to keep your body as healthy and beautiful as possible… but are you getting the best return on your investment? I bet not.
Here are 5 common ways that your workout is wasting your time:
1. Your workout isn’t really exercise
Your workout isn't really exercise. (It's being active. And you are heading for an injury.)
Most people get confused between being active and exercising.
- Being active is how it sounds, you are moving your body.
- Exercise, however, is systematic and intentional activity where you are producing improvements in your physical condition, in a balanced way. That means that all of your functional movements are strengthened, enabling you to be as active as possible while minimizing the risk of injury.
I am all for being active, and absolutely want to be as active as possible for as long as possible. However, if we aren’t also exercising, ensuring that we are strengthening all of the muscles and connective tissues/bones that we will need for our activities, as we age we are increasing our chances of getting injured.
Case in point, the friend who doesn’t exercise but plays basketball occasionally with his buddies, and thinks of it as exercise. He winds up injured. Or another friend who took up spin classes to “get exercise”, but wound up injured.
- How long does it take to recover from an injury?
- How many people do you know who don’t ever really fully recover from an injury?
Avoiding injury is the #1 thing we need to prioritize to make the most of our time. And that means having a systematic exercise routine as we age, not just “being active” which can put unexpected stresses on our bodies that our bodies aren’t strong enough to handle.
2. You aren’t maximally building your strength
First of all, if your workout doesn’t involve strength training or resistance training with heavy enough resistance, you are not building your strength.
Body weight training alone can accomplish this IF you have intelligent progression that keeps upping the level of difficulty of the moves, such as moving from squats to single leg squats, but generally it is much easier and more efficient to use weight or mechanical resistance.
If you simply have a cardio exercise program without strength training, you're actually breaking down muscle as opposed to building it, and will be more likely to get injured (see point 1).
If you're already committed to strength training but not using a slow and heavy protocol, you are wasting time.
3. You are taking it too easy
The research shows that…
High Intensity Intervals are where it's at: workout for less time at a higher intensity and you get better results.
But are those “High Intensity” workouts really ideal?
Turns out, most of the workouts called “High Intensity” really are only moderate intensity. High intensity means 90% of your maximum effort and can only be sustained for a very short period of time. You aren’t working out for 45 minutes and doing high intensity intervals. Moderate yes, high no. You wouldn’t be able to do it!
Research shows high intensity intermittent exercise is significantly more effective at reducing fat compared to steady state exercise.
Less time, better results.
4. You aren’t doing dynamic stretches
As we go about our day to day activities, there are countless times when unexpected movements cause us to extend our range of motion beyond what we had planned.
Slip on ice, lunge to catch a falling glass, lose your balance getting out of the car? We can pull a muscle. With use and age, muscles naturally shorten and our healthy range of motion decreases.
Stretching in a controlled, healthy way helps us avoid injury by keeping our full range of motion.
Dynamic stretches, or active full range of motion movements, have been shown to boost power and strength for exercises that follow. Static stretches do not give us the same benefit and take longer to get through all of your muscles.
Do systematic, dynamic stretches!
5. You aren’t prioritizing recovery
Recovery needs to be a key part of your routine or you are not getting the most out of your workouts.
The greater the stress of a workout, the more recovery time you will need to fully benefit from the adaptive response the workout triggered.
All recovery is not equal: we have both passive and active recovery techniques that are both useful. Going for a long walk the day after a hard work out, for example, can aid in recovery, just as a passive ice bath can. And of course, we can’t forget about sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you aren’t going to be getting the full benefits of your workout and really are wasting your time.