Achieving muscle tone requires a fine balance of consistent form, strenuous activity, and sufficient periods of rest. When you’re new to the world of strength and conditioning, any number of mental and physical obstacles have the potential to encumber your toning and weight loss goals.
Don’t let poor posture or misdirected focus block the way to a better you. Instead, take a look at these 5 common toning mistakes to learn what might be affecting your workout for the worse.
1. You Don’t Focus on Target Muscles
When emulating a workout move from a class instructor or trainer, be sure to maintain focus on the target muscle or muscle group in your own body, rather than simply mimicking the trainer’s motions. To get faster and more easily noticeable results, Shape advises to focus on form above all else. For example, while trying a lunge workout at home, focus in on the burn in your glutes with each dip — this simple consideration will help gauge if you’re working your muscles to their maximum potential.
2. You’re Using the Wrong Weights
Using the correct dumbbell weights for your strength level will result in more efficient and apparent muscle tone. Using a weight that is too light will fail to challenge your muscle — if you find yourself easily able to complete 15 or more reps with a weight, then it is too light, writes Landry. On the other hand, if you can’t perform 12 solid reps with good form using a certain weight, then that weight is too heavy. Simply put, the best way to pump iron is to give your muscles a challenge, while also being careful not to over-exert yourself.
Another great tip for preventing injury comes from personal trainer Rachel Cosgrove, who advises readers of Women’s Health to “start light with good form and only add weight as you get stronger and can maintain form.” Once you find yourself lifting a full set of reps with ease, up your weight incrementally to further avoid risk of injury.
3. You Overtrain
One of the most common causes of injury in both aerobic and strengthening exercises is overtraining, observes Men’s Fitness. All too often, individuals who are eager to jumpstart a new fitness routine will overwork their bodies without allowing muscles adequate time to repair. Exerting yourself beyond natural comfort levels will ultimately achieve results — but expending energy too quickly can lead to serious injury. If you are entirely against taking a rest day, then work opposing muscle groups on consecutive days to get your daily fix.
4. You’re Focusing on Cardio Alone
Fitness notes that a cardio-only routine will result in significantly less fat burning and weight loss than a regimen that involves a strength-based component. Shape confirms this argument, reporting that women who completed an hour-long strength workout following cardiovascular activity burned, on average, 100 more calories in the ensuing 24 hours than women who skipped out on the weight routine.
Yes, maintaining a consistent cardio routine is a positive step toward overall physical fitness — just don’t count on getting all-over muscle tone without mixing up your routine.
5. You Skip Full-Body Moves
PopSugar recommends that gym-goers get the most out of their workout by standing on one leg or using an exercise ball as a base during stationary exercises. This will keep your full body engaged in addition to the muscles you are targeting with each particular move. The added burn results in faster, fitter results — not only in your lower body, but in your core as well.