After months of pandemic restrictions, many people are embracing fitness again, and eager to start up new routines to get their mental and physical health back. But there are common mistakes many of us make that can set us back and affect our results and our enjoyment of these workouts.  

Here are the 6 most common workout mistakes, and how to fix them.

1. Skipping warmups 

Although it may save time, dodging the pre-workout warmup means your muscles are cold, your joints are stiff and your mindset isn’t ready. Not warming up puts you at risk of injury.   

The Fix: Design a regular warmup with bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats, pushups, and jumping jacks to elevate your heart rate before you move to weight training. 

2. Not planning your routine

Starting your workout without a plan is like grocery shopping without a list. You’ll end up wandering from machine to machine, or worse, looking at your phone, spending way more time than necessary.  

The Fix: Plan your workout in advance. Include the exercises, sets and reps, as well as the order you want to do them in so you can plan your route around the strength training area. 

3. Doing the same workout every day 

The more you follow the same routine, the more your body builds a tolerance to it. As your workout gets easier, your body doesn‘t require as much energy to do it, which means you’re not burning as many calories and improving your fitness. The body adapts to an exercise after it has done it six workouts in a row. 

The Fix: Add intervals to your cardio routine. For example, do 30 seconds to a minute or more at a high intensity, followed by the same amount of time at an easier pace. For strength training, do each exercise in your routine for time rather than reps.  Switch up the order of exercises, or add new ones. Try transitioning between exercises more quickly, with minimal rest time.  

4. Focusing on force over form

Many people push themselves too hard and add more reps to their programs thinking it will help them achieve results sooner. But neglecting form can have the opposite effect, causing you to use the wrong muscles, slowing progress and inviting injury. The same is true of functional exercises, where body form is everything.  

The Fix: Ask a fitness professional to demonstrate the exercises, emphasizing common pitfalls and things to check when you’re doing the move. For strength training, it’s a good idea to start with compound exercises like squats, deadlifts or pressing movements before working on smaller isolation exercises like bicep curls. Always have a workout buddy to “spot” you so you can maintain proper form.  If you’re alone, start with the heavier weight, then when your form starts to fail, go down a level to a lighter weight.  

5. Taking on too much too soon

It can be tempting to jump into a high intensity routine, or lift too much too quickly, without building up to the task. While it looks good at first and you feel invincible, it’s asking for trouble when it comes to injury, exhaustion and sore muscles.  

The Fix: If you’re ready for a more aggressive program, have a qualified trainer or coach do an assessment on you first, then start on a progressive program that begins at your current fitness level. If you want to join a group workout, tell the instructor that you are new and have them offer you modifications for any exercises you may have trouble with.  

6. Over training

The ideal length of a workout is 45 to 60 minutes. After 60 minutes the body produces catabolic hormones (that break down muscles), and the nervous system is taxed. Over training is usually related to inadequate recovery -- meaning poor nutrition, sleep and stress levels. 

The Fix: Allow time for proper recovery and you don’t need to worry as much about overtraining. Depending on the workout, full recovery can take one to three days. When you go back to your routine, you should notice an improvement in your strength and energy levels.  

It seems simple, but a few small changes can make a big impact in the quality of your workout, and leave you feeing healthier and stronger.