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Michael Rothman MD Articles

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Common Mistakes When Exercising

Most people make a lot of common mistakes when it comes to exercise.

Mistake #1 Overtraining

Far too many people over train, they exercise too often and for too much time.

Mistake #2 Lack of Intensity

This is related to mistake #1. Instead of training with high intensity, and getting a vigorous workout, many people train too causally. High volume, low intensity workouts are time consuming, boring, and ineffective. They are not very helpful for weight loss or muscle building. They will make you tired and hungry, but little else.

Let me give you some examples of low intensity workouts; running on the treadmill for 45 minutes, riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes, lifting a 5 lbs weight 20 times on each arm.

The problem with these types of workouts is that they only burn calories while you are working out, they do not do much to raise your metabolic rate. 30 minutes on the bike will burn about 200 calories. If you did this 17 times you would lose one pound of fat (assuming you don’t eat more to compensate for the hunger that you will have after the workout).

Lifting light weights over and over again, do not burn many calories nor do they build much muscle. Increasing muscle mass however, will burn up fat. Muscles burn fat 24 hours a day 7 days each week. Additionally, in order to build 1 pound of muscle, you would need to burn up about 15 lbs of fat in the process.

Adding Intensity to Your Workouts
#1 Intense Endurance Workouts

Imagine you are being chased by a grizzly bear. Two questions. How fast would you run? How far would you go? Answer. As fast as you can, for as long as you can.

This is the essence of the “grizzly bear” workout. Run (or bike or swim or walk or punch the heavy bag) for as long as you can as if your life depended on it. This will only take about 1 minute. Then stop, relax, check your pulse, wait about 1 minute. Then do this again with the same intensity and for the same duration. Continue this cycle until you find that your heart rate does not recover (it just doesn’t want to slow down within 1-2 minutes). You are done with your workout. Now relax and let your body burn up calories for the next few days.

#2 Intense Muscle Building Workouts

Choose a weight that is approximately 75% of your maximum single lift amount. (For example, if you can lift 40 lbs one time on a bench press, then work out with 3/4th of this, 30 lbs)

Warm up with a lighter set, than do one set to failure (keep lifting until you can not lift anymore). Grunt and growl if you have to, but make you that you completely exhaust the muscle.

Do the exercise to a count of four, return the weight to its starting position to a count of two.

Move on to the next exercise, continuing in the same manner, using a warm up set and then using 75% of maximum to muscle failure.

Just like with the “grizzly bear” workout, the “grunt and growl” muscle-building workout gives you objective parameters as to when you should finish the workout (or the set). You work out continues until your body tells you to stop (either because of inability to recover, in the “grizzly bear” workout or muscle failure in the “grunt and growl” workout.

These objective parameters replace the artificial parameters that most people use when they work out. (Like 45 minutes on the treadmill or 3 sets of ten on 6 body parts).

Increasing the intensity will reduce workout time and increase the effectiveness of your workouts. More bang for the buck, so to speak.

Avoiding Over Training
How many times a week should you work out? Again use objective parameters. Wait until your body tells you that you are ready to work out again.

If you do the “grizzly bear” workout on Monday and you are sore Tuesday and Wednesday, then wait until Thursday to workout again. The same rule applies for the “grunt and growl” workout.

Remember, the goal of working out is to stress your muscles and your system, so that first you break things down (catabolic) then build things back up (anabolic). When you over train, you do not let your body fully recover and you will keep breaking down over and over again. This is very time consuming, wastes a lot of effort, and most importantly very harmful to your body!

Other guidelines for avoiding overtraining

Never do two workouts of the same kind (“grunt and growl” or “grizzly bear”) on consecutive days.
Do not do more than 3 of workouts of the same kind (“grunt and growl” or grizzly bear”) in the same week.
Make sure you have 2 full days of rest each week.

Tips for avoiding injuries

If you have a bad joint (like a bad shoulder or a bad knee) you must modify your workout to compensate for this. You are looking to stress the muscles. Muscular pain is good (as long as you allow time for recovery) joint pain is bad (you will damage the joint more).
If you have problems with your balance, avoid situations where you have a chance of falling. For example, limit your “grizzly bear” workouts to a stationary bike, or some other device that does not require balance.
Work out initially with a trainer who is qualified to show you proper weight lifting techniques. Form is very important to isolate muscles properly and avoid injury.

Last Tip;

Enjoy your workouts. Look forward to them. Then do them with intensity and vigor. They will exhilarate you. Then allow your muscles to rest, knowing that you have boosted your metabolic rate for the next few days. The excess flab will be replaced with lean, shapely, fat-burning, muscle.

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