9 Fitness Habits You Need to Break, According to Personal Trainers
May 20, 2019
Are you frustrated because you aren’t seeing better results from your workouts, despite how hard you working? I get it!
Sometimes the reason we aren’t seeing the results we want is because we aren’t aware of our existing bad habits and the effects they have on our progress.
That’s why I asked our elite Burn Boot Camp trainers what habits they would love to see their clients break! Check out their answers if you want to see real and lasting results from your workouts.
1. Stop skipping the basics!
“I think one of the most important fitness mistakes I see daily with my clients is failing to build a sturdy nutrition foundation before they start worrying about the trending health topics,” says David Rhodus Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Evanston, IL. “Too many people come to me and ask me questions about organic this, raw that, BPA-free this, alkaline that, chemical-free this—and the list just goes on and on. But when I check their basic foundations of their macronutrient ratios, whole food nutrition, their sleep quality and prioritizing recovery, they are far from where they should be.”
You can include all the superfoods into your diet and you can take all the right vitamins and supplements, but if you’re over-eating, depriving yourself of sleep and not giving yourself time to relax, it doesn’t matter! You won’t see the results you want without first developing a sturdy foundation. “We have to get people back to the basics of health and fitness. You can’t build a house starting with the roof,” says Rhodus.
2. Stop taking shortcuts!
“The fitness habit I wish everyone would break is taking shortcuts! There are no shortcuts to real, lasting change,” shares Jared Harris, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Orem, UT. “Doing double workouts every day, going on every trending diet, restricting your calories drastically or completing eliminating certain foods from your diet just won’t work.”
Taking shortcuts will end up doing more harm than good in the long run, despite your efforts. Over-exercising leads to imbalanced hormones that trigger you to store more body fat. It also doesn’t allow time for your body to recover and your muscles to grow. Restricting your calories slows your metabolism and puts your body in a state of stress that also encourages your body to store more body fat. Your trending diet may lead to quick weight loss, but it’s most likely not sustainable. When you begin eating regularly again, you’ll quickly regain all your weight, plus more!
Being your healthiest, fittest self is a lifestyle and there are no quick-fix solutions that will get you there. If you want results that actually last, you’re going to have to put in the work. There is just no way around it.
3. Stop obsessing over the number of calories you burn!
“For me, the number one fitness habit people need to break is focusing so heavily on how many calories they burned according to their fitness watch. When they see they ‘only’ burned 300 calories, they think it was a bad workout or they did something wrong,” says Hannah Gills, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Lexington, SC. Fitness watches are not accurate and are only a rough estimate.
When you match your calories burned with calories you consumed, this could cause you to either drastically under-eat or over-eat. Plus, in many cases, especially with strength workouts, you won’t burn as many calories during the workout, but it will help you burn more calories overall in your day-to-day life. Fitness watches can trigger people to love cardio more than strength because they get that instant satisfaction of seeing a high-calorie burn and it makes them less motivated to do strength workouts, which are equally, if not more, beneficial.
But you don’t need to toss out your fitness watch altogether. It can be used as motivation to get up and move! “I tell my clients to simply use it as an awareness tool for how much they are moving throughout their days with their steps—especially on the weekends when their activity tends to drop off,” shares Michael Butchko, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Princeton, NJ.
4. Stop stepping on the scale every day!
“I think the worst fitness habit people need to break is being obsessed with weighing themselves,” says Devon Braykovich Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Sandy Springs, GA. “There is just no reason someone needs to step on the scale each day.”
Your weight fluctuates constantly, depending on many things: what you eat, how much you eat, what time you eat, how often you go to the bathroom, how much water you drink, how much sleep you get, how much salt you consume and more. The scale just isn’t a good metric for measuring your health and fitness results, especially because muscle weighs more than fat. We want more muscle because it gives us a slimmer-looking body composition and it speeds our metabolism, so the number on the scale going up can be a really great thing!
“Time and consistency are the only things that effect real change,” says Braykovich. Stop focusing on the scale and instead only focus on making the healthiest choice each day. That’s when you will notice real results!
5. Stop ignoring your body’s signals!
One fitness habit you need to break is waiting for something to hurt so badly, it prevents you from being able to work out before you actually give it the attention it needs. “It’s so important to be on top of self-maintenance,” says Steven Arias, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Chapel Hill, NC. “I see it all the time with my clients where they take the time to foam roll and stretch only when something hurts. Once it feels better, they stop, which eventually leads them back to the pain they were previously experiencing. This puts them into an endless cycle.” If something starts bothering you, listen to your body and take care of it before it escalates into a larger issue.
6. Stop skipping your rest day!
“One fitness habit I would love to see people break is refusing to rest,” says Christen Jackson, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Mt. Juliet, TN. Many people don’t understand the science behind muscle growth. You don’t build muscle during your workout, you build it during your rest periods. What you are actually doing is tearing your muscle fibers and breaking them down. Muscle growth occurs when your body is at rest. Training every single day or hitting the gym twice a day causes you to be in a perpetual state of muscle breakdown, meaning you are continuously losing muscle and never building it.
Overtraining also leaves your body in a chronic state of stress, which negatively affects your hormone levels. These hormone imbalances can elevate your blood sugar, increase your food cravings, heighten your appetite, alter your digestion and slow your metabolism. If you are not seeing results or losing weight, try giving your muscles time to rest, recover and rebuild between workout sessions.
7. Stop using healthy eating and exercise as punishment!
“A fitness habit I wish we would all break is looking at eating healthy and exercising as a punishment rather than a reward,” shares Danielle Miller, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Gilbert, AZ. “We shouldn’t be exercising hard just because we ate a cookie the night before, but instead to reward our bodies with the movement it needs to truly thrive. Same to be said with food. We shouldn’t be starving our bodies as a punishment by eating as minimal calories as possible, but instead nourishing it with foods and nutrients it needs to perform optimally.”
People think that eating less and working out more is the solution to getting the body they want. But in reality, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Doing so will actually provide you with the reverse effects. Under-eating and over-exercising will cause your body to store more body fat. When you provide your body with proper nourishment and allow it to rest, you will see optimal results.
8. Stop rushing through exercises!
If you want to see maximum results from your workouts, a fitness habit you need to break is rushing through exercises. Having correct form and using your full range of motion are so much more important than how fast you perform an exercise. “Racing to get through a workout or competing with others to do the same should not be your focus,” says Karen Brown, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Lawrenceville, GA. “Doing only one extra rep of perfect range of motion is so much more effective than doing 10 extra reps using only half your range of motion. I say this all the time with my clients: I’d rather you do 10 amazing reps, not 100 bad ones!”
“Especially on strength days, your focus should be on slow and correct form, not fast and half the movement, which is not only less effective but can also result in injury,” adds Angelle Clare Simon, trainer at Burn Boot Camp Baton Rouge, LA. “I know changing that mindset can be so difficult, though. If you are working out with a group, you need to break your habit of racing others! This is your workout, not somebody else’s. Go at the speed that is right for you.”
9. Get rid of your “all or nothing” mindset!
“To me, the most important fitness habit people need to break is eating next to nothing during the weekdays and then overdoing it on the weekends,” says Tasha Leigh, Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp Lynchburg, VA. This mentality leads to a never-ending cycle. You over-restrict during the week, causing you to develop crazy cravings. Then the weekend comes and you give into your craving. Then you turn that one cheat meal into several cheat meals and then an entire cheat day. You feel so guilty for everything you just ate that you feel like you need to restrict yourself even more come Monday. The cycle just continues.
If you really want to reach your fitness goals, you need break the habit of going all in or nothing at all. Craving a cookie? Rather than fighting the craving, just eat one! If you continue to fight your craving, you’ll eventually give in, but when you do, your craving will be so out of control, you’ll instead eat 10 cookies! Reaching your fitness goals doesn’t mean you have to do everything perfectly. As long as the majority of your choices are healthy, you’ll make amazing progress!