1. You Sacrifice Good Form
High-intensity exercise may burn loads of calories, but not if you're hanging on to the handrails for
dear life. It is important to focus on your form, even if that means lowering the intensity. "You recruit
fewer muscle and burn fewer calories when you're slouched over”.
Same goes for strength-training. Research has found that standing while lifting weights boosts calorie
burn by about 50 calories per half hour. Best of all, one study shows that good posture allows you to
take in more oxygen so your workout feels easier, even while you're blasting more calories.
Do: Slow down and stand tall
The Results: Burn 50 extra calories per session
2. You Exercise While Parched
Experts are constantly back and forth on the merits of the 8-glasses-a-day guideline. However, when
it comes to working out, the importance of drinking up is clear. "Nearly every cell in the body is
composed of water--without it, they don't function efficiently during exercise. Translation: You'll
fatigue faster and your workout will feel tougher than it should.
In recent studies, it has been discovered that exercisers who were dehydrated completed 3 to 5 fewer
reps per set while strength-training. Part of the problem is that dehydration decreases the body's
levels of anabolic hormone that are necessary for strong muscles. On workout days, drink an ounce
of water for every 10 pounds of body weight. IE: 15 ounces if you weigh 150) 1 to 2 hours prior to
exercise. Then keep sipping during and after your session to replenish what you lose through sweat.
Do: Sip 15 ounces of water 2 hours before working out
The Results: More energy to lift weights and firm up faster
3. You Hate Your Workout
No matter how many calories an activity promises to burn, if you don't enjoy it, you'll be less likely to
do it and won't reap the benefits. Think of it this way: If you burn 300 calories every time you exercise,
but you dread it so much that you skip one session a week, it adds up to 1,200 calories a month--or
more than 4 pounds a year.
Instead, find a workout you want to do, rather than one you feel like you have to do. When
researchers polled women who'd been exercising regularly for longer than a year, they found that
one of the top predictors of adherence was choosing enjoyable activities. Experimenting with ways to
make exercise more appealing: For example, if walking is your workout of choice, try recruiting a
friend to join you.
4. You Read on the Treadmill
"If flipping through a magazine keeps you motivated, by all means do it. "But reading while exercising
is so distracting that you're probably working at an intensity too low to burn a significant number of
calories." Magazines and books are just the tip of the iceberg--1 in 10 of us read texts or e-mail on a
cell phone during workouts reports a new survey by Standard Life, a health insurance company.
Instead, turn on some tunes to increase the duration and intensity of your cardio bout: Researchers
discovered that runners who listened to motivational rock or pop music (think Queen or Madonna)
exercised up to 15% longer--and felt better doing it. You don't have to nix TV shows, cell phones,
books, and magazines every workout--just leave them behind a couple of times a week so you can
focus on intensity.
5. You Skip Strength Training
Over 80% of women forgo strength-training, says the latest survey by the Sporting Goods
Manufacturers Association. If you're one of them, it may be the number one reason your scale is
stuck. You've probably heard that strength-training can boost metabolism, but here's something you
may not know: People who pair aerobic and resistance training eat less--517 fewer calories a day--
than those who do only cardio, reports a new study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.
The combo workouts may increase satiety hormones more and boost the body's ability to break down
food and stabilize blood sugar so you feel full longer.
6. You Trust Calorie-Burn Estimates
Oh, how sweet it would be if 20 minutes on a cardio machine really did blast 400 calories. But like
most things in life that sound too good to be true, those digital displays broadcasting mega calorie
burn are often bogus. Recent research presented at the National Strength and Conditioning
Conference found that elliptical trainers over-estimate calorie burn by an average of 30%.
If you're trying to create a calorie deficit to lose weight those thought-you-burned-'em calories can
add up over time and thwart your success. To ensure you're burning the number of calories you
want, consider investing in a heart rate monitor.