The way you work out can have HUGE effects on your results! Do it right and you’ll see that weight loss and muscle-building you want. Do it wrong and you may just be spinning your wheels. If you want to make sure you’re getting the proper results, here are a few bad workout habits that you’d do well to avoid in the future:
Running on an Empty Stomach
This is a mistake many people make because they’re used to weight training on an empty stomach. When you lift weights without eating, it forces your body to burn more fat, but the fact that you’re training your muscles stops your body from burning muscle glycogen. With cardio, that’s not the case. You’re not doing anything that protects your muscle, so your body taps into that muscle energy storage and burns it up while you run. This can have the opposite of the desired effect, contributing to muscle mass loss rather than simply fat loss. Train on an empty stomach, but if you’re going to do cardio, make sure to eat something first.
Bad form in your weight lifting, running, cycling, rowing, or swimming can be quite bad for you! First off, it decreases the effectiveness of the workout, so you get less visible results for your efforts. But more than that, you drastically increase the risk of injuries, everything from spinal problems to knee injuries to strained muscles. Keeping proper form is critical for reducing injury risk, and it will also make your workouts more effective because you’ll be hitting the right muscles at the right angles.
This isn’t technically a workout habit, but it goes hand in hand with your training. If you scale back on the calories too much (reducing by more than 500 calories below your recommended calorie intake), you will be depriving your body of much-needed nutrition. The result may be far more detrimental to your health than you’d expect, as it can slow your metabolism and encourage fat storage rather than fat loss. The key is to scale your calorie intake back slightly (by 200 to 300 calories), then increase your daily calorie expenditure by doing more exercise and being more active.
Doing Cardio First
Cardio burns through stored fat and resistance training burns through muscle glycogen. Your body has no more than 500 calories’ worth of glycogen, but it has thousands of calories’ worth of stored fat. If you do cardio first, you reach your resistance training with your muscular energy depleted, so you’ll run out of steam far faster. The key is to get in your resistance training first, then finish off with a killer cardio workout. That way, your exercise burns through stored glycogen and your cardio forces your body to tap into stored body fats. That’s how you lose weight the right way!
Doing Too Much Cardio
Yes, there is such a thing as too much cardio! Remember that cardio burns stored body fat, but after a while, it will start to look for easier energy sources, including the energy stored in your muscles. If you don’t do enough resistance training to signal to your body that you need that muscular energy, it will cannibalize the muscles to fuel your cardio. You should always balance your resistance training with cardio so you can protect your muscles while burning as much fat as possible.
Working Out Late At Night
Too late at night, and you interfere with a healthy night’s rest. Try to work out no later than 3 or 4 hours before you sleep, as that will help you to feel tired when it comes time to get to bed.