Top 10 Fitness Mistakes That Are Keeping You Fat

A woman measuring her thigh with measuring tape with the title: "Top 10 Fitness Mistakes That Are Keeping You Fat"

With all the fitness magazines and websites out there, it’s easy to be confused with all the conflicting advice. However, most fitness professionals will agree that these ten fitness mistakes are nearly universal. If you are guilty of any of these common fitness mistakes, do yourself a huge favor and make some changes in order to start seeing improvements.

1. Not Drinking Enough Water

Drinking water is the easiest and cheapest way to improve overall health, yet so many people ignore the importance of water. The “8 glasses a day” rule is bogus, you need more than that to keep your body running as a fat-burning machine.

The rule of thumb in the fitness world is 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. For example, a 120 lb. person should aim for 120 ounces of water a day.

Drinking too much water is a very hard thing to do. Having too little water on the other hand is very common. Remember to drink water regularly and your body with thank you for it.

A woman drinking water during her outdoor exercise

2. Skipping Stretching

You are only (potentially) hurting yourself when you skip stretching. Stretching increases blood flow and oxygen to the muscles being stretched and helps to prevent injuries. At the least, stretch for 5 minutes before beginning exercise, especially the muscles that you will be working.

For example, if you plan on running, be sure to stretch your calves, quads, and hamstrings.

3. Not Changing Program Often Enough

Your body adapts to physical stress much faster than you think. Think about it, have you ever tried an exercise class or some sort of ab exercise that was really difficult the first time you tried it but then it seems much easier after a week or two?

The reason is feels “so easy” is because your body has adapted and learned how to perform this movement with the minimum amount of calories necessary.

Ever heard of people “hitting a plateau” in their workouts or weight loss efforts? This is another example of your body adapting.

In order to continue making changes, gains, or losses and improving your fitness level, your workout routine needs to change frequently. The more of a novice you are, the less frequently you need to change your routine. Here is a good estimate of when to change your training program in relation to fitness level:

FITNESS LEVEL Beginner Intermediate Advanced
When to change exercise routine 12 weeks 6-8 weeks 4-6 weeks

4. Doing Tons of Crunches to Get Rid of Belly Fat

Whether you can see your abs or not is besides the point. Your abs, or abdominals, are a set of four muscles that work, bend, twist, and crunch your midsection. Most people have a layer of abdominal fat that tends to sit on our abs from consuming excess calories (yup, those 4 beers you had are now sitting on your gut).

Your abdominals are muscles, train them like you train other muscles; about twice per week, a few sets of 12-15 repetitions. You wouldn’t train your biceps by doing hundreds of bicep curls, why do that for your abs?

In order to see your abs, you need to avoid eating more calories than your body needs, while incorporating some strength training and cardiovascular exercise in your workout routine. Remember, abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.

People doing sit-ups in a gym.

5. Too Much, Too Soon

This fitness mistake is better understood through a story: Bill,a 45-year-old a software engineer who is relatively sedentary behind a desk all day, decides to join a pick-up basketball game at his gym on Saturday morning.

During the first half hour of the game, he jumps up and sprains his ankle when he lands. Not only did he sprain his ankle, he also chipped a bone, maybe tore his Achilles tendon. Now he’s completely out of physical activity for eight weeks.

The moral of the story is, a little everyday is much better than bingeing on exercise.

6. Obsessing on One Body Part

You may not like your triceps or your inner thighs, but that does not mean you should work those areas every day. The worst thing you can do is avoid other body parts or muscle groups because you are so hung up on a single area.

Think about it, if you obsess about one area that jiggles, the other areas you are ignoring will start to jiggle. Keep everything fit and tight by working your entire body.

A woman pinching her thigh siimingly to check how much fat is on it.

7. “Treating” Yourself Too Often

This is more of a beginner problem, but it happens to us all. We trained really hard, left the gym dripping in sweat, and for some reason we feel we “deserve” a treat.

In a way you did, but if you burned 350 calories on the stair master, why would you want to “treat” yourself to a slice of cheesecake worth 500 calories? Seems pointless to anyone who can do some basic math.

Although, the good news is you should cheat once in a while, but “once in a while” certainly does NOT mean 3 times a week. Keep your treats to no more than once per week.

8. Avoiding Weight Training

Although this fitness mistake is more common in women, it does exist for men as well. As a personal trainer, I see this everyday; women avoiding weight training because they think they will “get bulky”, wherein reality, they will become fit, toned, and achieve a beautiful physique.

Not to generalize, but many overweight people will stick to only cardio because cardio typically burns more calories in a set period of time as compared to weight training. However, weight training keeps your metabolism higher for several hours after weight training to keep burning more calories. Cardio does not do that!

9. Staying in Your Comfort Zone

If you want to continue seeing and feeling results for your exercise routine, you need to leave your comfort zone often! If you are guilty of going for a nice, easy walk for 30 minutes each day and are frustrated that the weight does not seem to come off, it’s because you are in your comfort zone.

You make the best fitness gains when you leave your comfort zone. Here are some ways to leave your comfort zone and continue seeing results:

  • Try a new machine. If you always walk on the treadmill, try the StairMaster or rowing machine.
  • Add some intensity. If you ride the bike for 30 minutes, try adding 10-20 30-second sprints.
  • Pick up heavier weights. You should be able to go a little heavier each week or every two weeks. If you are still lifting the 5 pound dumbbells after a month, you’re guilty of staying in your comfort zone.

A fit woman performing bicep curls with a small weight.

10. Not Training Your Legs

This is more a male thing. Men tend to skip leg workouts as if it were the plague. My guess is because they don’t wear shorts that are short enough to appreciate strong, muscular legs.

Instead, they work the upper body because this is what they typically see in the mirror. There is nothing uglier than a fit guy with a muscular chest, big arms, strong back, and then two popsicle sticks for legs. Don’t do it to yourself.

Your legs contain 70% of the muscles in your body. The quadriceps alone is made up of four separate muscles.

By working the legs, we are stimulating the release of muscle-building hormones such as human growth hormone, which will help build muscles everywhere, not just in our legs.

To those who want to lose fat, by working your legs you will be burning more calories because there is much more muscle mass in your lower body as compared to your upper body.

So there’s the top 10 fitness mistakes that keep people fat and limit the outcomes they get. Are you making any of them? If so then change up your routines and there’s a good chance your results will improve in kind.

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  • Hey, thanks for the tips going to share with my clients. I’m also guilty of the “Not drinking enough water”. I know I do it, I try not too, but it just happens. And if I’m not super thirsty I don’t drink it. It’s not like I’m drinking pop or anything.

    Sure I just need to put myself on a water drinking schedule or something lol.

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