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Are You Making These Workout Mistakes?

If you want to maximize your workouts, you need to realize not all approaches to training are created equal. Three of the world’s leading fitness experts point out common workout mistakes that may be holding you back from taking your fitness to the next level.

Mistake #1: Failing to focus on function

While the thought of ripped abs and sculpted arms is a powerful motivator, exercise should ultimately enhance your ability to perform daily activities. Futhermore, the exercises you choose should mimic the movements you do outside of the gym. “We live in a multidimensional world where we don’t have machines to hold our bodies in place or to guide our movements,” says Keli Roberts, ACE-certified personal trainer based out of Pasadena, CA. “Training the body in only one plane—with exercises like leg extensions and the bench press—opens up the possibility of muscle imbalances and can pre-dispose the body to injury.” For better results, Roberts recommends working the body in various planes of motion. In addition to tried and true moves like squats, include side-to-side movements like side lunges and lateral dumbbell raises, along with rotational movements, such as medicine ball wood chops and haybailers.

Mistake #2: Forgetting your feet

Most of us train the muscles of our arms, legs and midsection, and neglect the muscles of the feet and ankles, which serve as the foundation for so many of our movements. “People who do not try minimalist-style shoes or barefoot exercises to improve ankle stabilization and foot mechanics deprive themselves of the possibility of improving overall body function, since everything from walking to complex sports depends on foot efficiency,” says Lawrence Biscontini, MA, ACE Senior Group Fitness Consultant and creator of “Bare Your Sole,” a course focused on exploring the importance of barefoot fitness.

Mistake #3: There's no method to your madness

With so many exercise options, you may feel tempted to add new moves to every workout. However, to make the most of your sweat session, you’ll want to master fundamental movements before trying advanced exercise variations or new machines. “Invest time into learning all the movements, and applying full, pain free range of motion with no compensations to get the most out of each rep, set and workout,” says ACE Master Trainer and health and fitness coach Chris McGrath, MS. “When adding variety avoid arbitrary changes, as every change in a program and every movement in a workout should have a specific reason,” adds McGrath. Consider enlisting the help of a certified personal trainer to create a customized program just for you to make sure you’re adding variety to your routine the right—and safe—way.

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