The 6 Most Damaging Mistakes You Can Make During Your Workout (And What To Do Instead)

Don't let exercise errors stand in your way.

The Most Damaging Workout Routine Mistakes That Jeopardize Your Physical Fitness & Health unsplash

Fitness, exercise, and workouts are more than just doing it — it's the way you do it and the mindset behind doing it.

A healthy lifestyle undoubtedly includes physical fitness. Unfortunately, as we progress in life, we may find ourselves in a position where we haven’t exercised in a long time. We may not remember what to do, how to start working out, or even what workout routine you need to begin with.


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There are certain mistakes that you may be making when exercising. You may be doing these exercises wrong or trying to take shortcuts.

And, in order to get the best out of your fitness plans and workout plans, you need to know what these flubs are so you can correct them and live the healthy and active lifestyle your body deserves.


Cardio Mistakes

1. The grip mistakes

Let’s face it: when we get on some sort of cardio machine (elliptical, treadmill, etc.), we grab the handles and hold on for dear life! You may feel this is normal or natural, but it’s actually holding you back from a complete true workout.

Why? Because this sometimes allows you to slack off on the actual workout.

Oh sure, some of us need to hold on for balance, and some machines require you to hold the handles for the exercise, we get it. But, if you’re just holding them to go through the motion of the machine, you’re doing it wrong!

If the handle is part of the exercise, then use it as such! Focus on moving your arms with the machine and not letting the machine move your arms. (You know what I mean)


If you need to use the handles for balance, fine, but don’t grab the handles — just rest your hands and, eventually, work on loosening the grip and taking your hands off, completely.

2. The reading mistake

Let’s face it, sometimes doing cardio on a machine is boring. That’s why gyms have TVs in front of just about every machine. But, some people like to read and that’s fine...if the machine is designed for it!

Think of it this way: you’re at the gym to work out and get in better shape, right? Then that’s what you should focus on!

If you’re on a machine that requires you to use both your legs and arms, how are you able to read a book and turn the pages?


If the machine is only for legs (like a bicycle), then by all means, read a book. But, if you’re on an elliptical (which if you notice, there are a lot of them at gyms), then you’re not getting the full effectiveness of the machine if you’re reading a book!

Focus and concentrate on the workout! After all, that’s why you’re there to begin with!

3. "I’ll only do cardio" mistake

Yes, I know, I’ll get blasted by some people about this, but my opinion is that doing only cardio may not be enough.

"But Andrew, I just want to lose weight, I don’t want to get bulky muscles."

I hear ya, as we age, we need to engage our muscles more and more because, according to a lot of studies, we tend to lose muscles at a much quicker pace as we get older.


So, let’s keep as much muscle as we can, does that make sense?

Besides, if your body is in the shape of a pear, and you just want to lose weight without any other kind of body muscle, you’ll probably lose weight but you’ll just look like a skinny pear.

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Resistance Training Mistakes

1. "I want to get this done" mistake

We’ve all seen videos of people doing "speed lifting" — in other words, doing the weight lifting exercise as fast as they can.

They think it will help with their heart rate and I got 4 words for you about this: do not do this!

Any good trainer (even the bad ones) will tell you proper form is always better than the number of weights or the number of reps you do, period! And speed lifting is not proper form!


Whether it’s free weights or a machine, take your time and do it right. Do a slow count to 3 or 5 for each part of the rep (up and down, for example) if you don’t know how much time you should take.

Also, If you don’t know for sure how to do a particular exercise, grab a trainer and ask them for some help. There isn’t a trainer on this planet that wouldn’t help someone and assist them with proper form.

2. "Let the machine do the work" mistake

This is tough because when people read this, they may think I’m talking bad about machines, but I’m not. What I see are people using the machines, but not exercising, just going through the motions.


Oh sure, you’ll have to do something to get the machine moving in the way it’s designed, but then many people stop and let the machine take over.

You have to understand that you must focus on the muscles being worked on through the whole rep.

For instance, when using the preacher curl machine, you just don’t go "up" with it and let it fall back down. You must slowly let the bar down with the same focus you lifted it up. This will make you focus on the muscle, even if you don’t know you’re doing it!

You can say the same thing on just about any machine — the lat pulldown, the crunch, the bicep, the flat bench, just to name a few.

I got three words for you: focus, focus, focus!


3. The non-adjust mistake

We’ll stick to using machines for this one. Did you know that just about every machine has multiple adjustments to use?


Think about it: machines are made to be universal so they need to adjust to just about every body shape there is.

Ask yourself this: did the person who used the machine before you have the same body size and shape? Chances are, they did not. So, that means you should adjust the machine to fit you, not the person who doesn’t look like you, right?

Adjust the seat, adjust the handgrips, adjust the backrest, extend or shorten the leg pads. In other words, make it fit your body! And if you’re not sure how to do it, ask a trainer and they’ll be happy to help you figure it out.

Word of caution, if the machine doesn’t fit your body type, you’re just asking to get hurt, which nobody wants! So, take the extra 5 seconds and always adjust, adjust, adjust!


So, there you go.

Health and fitness not only requires knowing what type of exercises or workouts you need but also how to do them correctly and without taking shortcuts.

Since you now know what these flubs are, you can avoid them and do the right thing.

Following these easy tips will make your workouts more productive and you'll be seeing results a lot faster as well!

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Andrew Poletto is the founder of Top Fitness Strategies and guides the "Fitness Over 50" people to look better, feel better and lose some weight. Connect with him and get the "4 Pillars Of Fitness" video series.