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When you invest the time in exercising, you want to see the best results possible but sometimes exercisers unknowingly handicap themselves by hidden mistakes. These errors are typically undiscovered until pointed out, which is why it is important to be aware of potential mistakes in order to avoid them. Let's discuss the most common mistakes that occur during workouts and how to avoid making them.

Poor Posture

This is probably the all-time worst offender. Bad posture while you exercise means that you're probably not getting the full benefit of your workout, and opens the door for pain and stiffness later. This is also referred to as "having proper alignment" and means keeping your spine in the best position possible (typically a neutral stance with shoulders back and head held high). When your body is out of alignment, it can prevent you from getting the most out of your exercise" poor alignment in abdominal crunches will not only give you a neck-ache but also work the wrong muscles and potentially bulk up your stomach instead of flattening it! Many trainers recommend imagining a string attached to the top of your head and pulling your body straight to help keep good posture. Slumping and hunching over may give you some relief initially but standing up straight provides the best support for the body and feels most secure. If you need helping remembering to check your posture during your workout, write a note to yourself and put it in a pocket or attach it to a piece of workout equipment to jog your memory.

Wearing the Wrong Shoes or No Shoes At All!

Exercising without the proper footwear is only setting yourself up for future suffering! There is a reason why shoes are designated as being for running, walking, or cross-training, and it's not just to sucker you out of the most money. Each activity demands different things of your feet and the shoes are designed specifically to support the areas of the foot that undergo the most stress. You won't feel any immediate effects from wearing walking shoes while running but in the long run some problems will surface. If you participate in a variety of sports and activities, the best choice is probably a cross-training shoe, which aims to support multiple areas of the foot. Go to your local shoe store and when the salesperson asks if you need assistance, take him up on it! Describe to him your typical workout and the frequency, and he should be able to recommend a sturdy shoe that fits your needs. This may not be cheapest shoe but it shouldn't necessarily be the most expensive either. If you are unsure about the recommendation, visit another shoe store for a second opinion.

As for exercising barefoot, the only time this is appropriate is when you are exercising in sand! All other surfaces simply location too much stress on the foot to be acceptable. Do yourself a favor and purchase the right shoes for your workout" your feet will thank you!

Overestimating the Intensity

Too often exercisers overestimate the intensity of workouts and credit themselves a little too much. The right intensity is purely an individual decision but a good general guideline is to try to carry on a conversation. If you can speak in short sentences with a breath after each 1, you're in the general area. Needing a breath after each word is the high end of the intensity range, but you should never exercise so hard that you can't speak. That's a dangerous situation and if you feel yourself becoming unable to communicate, slow down immediately and allow your body to return to normal.

Pushing your body to the high end of its intensity helps rev your metabolism and burn more calories. Don't get comfortable in your workout and assume that your efforts are enough, because becoming complacent can seriously slow down your weight loss. Make it a point to push yourself to work hard and your body will reward you with increased aerobic capacity and decreased fat and weight. Many trainers suggest purchasing a heart rate monitor that can accurately identify when you are working within your target heart range. This can be a useful tool but the best tool of all is your own personal assessment of how hard you think you are working.