6 Ways You're Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Workout

August 24, 2015
Fix these mistakes pronto to sweat like a champ and get results.

At this point, you've got the workout basics—like not trusting the calorie count on the treadmill and spending quality time with the foam roller—down pat. But there are other smaller details that are easier to overlook—and that can mess with your sweat sessions much more than you realize.

1. Not Hydrating Before Your Workout

You know that you can't exercise without your trusty water bottle by your side—but chances are, you're skimping on the H2O you need beforehand, especially if you work out in the a.m. After eight hours (hopefully!) of sleep, your body needs you to replenish your supply of water, says Mark Peterson, Ph.D., certified strength and conditioning specialist, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan University.

How much is enough? Check the color of your pee to gauge whether you’re hydrated, says Peterson. It’s probably more yellow than usual first thing in the morning, a signal to you that it’s time to guzzle.

RELATED: Can Lemon Water Really Help You Lose Weight?

How much you drink also depends on the workout you’ll be doing. If you’ll be strength training, you may be able to drink more water in the a.m. than if you’ll be running sprints—just think about whether liquid sloshing around in your stomach will mess with your game before you chug.

2. Going in Without a Game Plan
Making sure you beast a workout starts way before you lift that first weight or hop into the pool. Creating a plan of exactly what you’re going to do in the gym or on a run sets you up for success.

“A lot of people walk into the gym aimlessly, but setting a goal for your workout is a huge motivator,” says Joe Masiello, C.S.C.S., co-founder of Focus Personal Training Institute  in New York City. Decide what you want to accomplish during your workout, and write it down.

Not only does writing out your workout make you feel accountable for seeing it through, but it makes the time you spend exercising much more efficient, too. “When you have a plan of action, you’re not wandering around or wondering what to do next,” he says.

Not sure where to start with planning a workout? “Try to find a balance of strength training and cardio conditioning,” says Masiello. And if you don’t want to design your own workouts—nothing wrong with that!—meet with a trainer or follow along with a workout video, like this Pilates routine:

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Or if you want a multi-week gameplan, check out a program that's already been designed for you, like our Tone It Up! or Lose Belly Fat—For Good plans.

3. Putting Your iPod on Shuffle
Nothing is worse than having “Teardrops on My Guitar” by Taylor Swift start playing when you really need “Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé to get you back into that heck-yes-I’m-a-beast mindset. 

“No one wants to stop mid-workout to skip through Pandora until you find a good song,” says Masiello. Talk about a buzz kill.

RELATED: 25 Playlists for Every Possible Workout Routine on the Planet

Download your fave pump-up songs, make a playlist, and put your music in the exact order you want it. When you start your workout, all you’ll have to do is press play. No momentum-ruin-ers; no commercials.

4. Texting While Working Out
You might think that quickly checking your messages or e-mail mid-workout is no biggie. After all, it only takes a few seconds to respond to a text from a friend, right?

Bad news: Even in the six seconds it takes to check your phone, you’re shifting your attention away from your workout. "An effective workout requires focus," says Masiello. Leave your phone at home or in the locker room when you're sweating. If you need it for your music, put it in airplane mode.

5. Sticking to the Same Routine Every Day
A lot of us swear by one workout routine because, well, it’s easier than switching things up. But if you’ve been doing the same circuit for months, odds are your mind—and your body—are bored.

“We fall into workout monotony because it’s less work,” says Peterson. But you’ve got to change your routine to keep seeing a change in your body and fitness levels. Try a new yoga class, check out CrossFit with a friend, or just mix in a few different exercises on leg day. Your body will thank you, and it'll help keep you more interested in working out, too, since you're less likely to get bored.

6. Saving Strength Training for Last
If you’re doing cardio and strength training in the same day, saving strength training for post-cardio might impact your performance much more than you realize.

Why? It's easier to focus on getting your form right during squats and lunges if you do them first, says Masiello. Using proper form isn't just crucial for you to see the results you want; it also protects you from injuries.

Resist the temptation to get your treadmill session out of the way before hitting the weights. That way, you'll be able to really zero in on acing that deadlift.

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