|Image credit: Microsoft Clipart|
1. Leaving before you've stretched off and cooled down
There's likely to be two reasons for this. Firstly, some people may feel that they do not have the time to cool down a they're rushing back to work and secondly, some believe that as the calorie burning, high intensity portion of the workout is over, there's no point in staying for the cool down.
Cool downs may not feel like hard work, but they have a very important role. Simply put, those who do not perform stretches to cool down are at a much higher risk of injury and will not gain the added benefit of increased flexibility.
In my opinion, if you haven't 'got the time' to spend a few minutes warming up a the start of your workout and few minutes at the end to stretch off the muscles you've used then you haven't got the time to workout safely. Either pick another time of day to workout or fit in a higher intensity but shorter workout so you can include a warm up and cool down.
2. Working out to justify eating junk food
There's a huge difference between adding a 'treat' or two in amongst your fruits, vegetables and whole-grains and using a good workout as a license to binge on junk. If each time you burn a few hundred calories you replace them with nothing more than simple sugars and artificial flavours and chemicals, then you'd be better off not working out at all.
By all means, have your regular meals and fit a dessert in afterwards if you fancy it, but make sure you feed your body what it really needs first (i.e. vitamins, protein, fibre etc.) to ensure maximum performance for future workouts and health.
3. Wearing a badly fitted sports bra
Aside from looking unsightly under snug workout clothes, a poorly fitting bra can leave you with back pain, shoulder pain and even neck ache and head aches! 80% of women wear the wrong bra size, make sure you're not one of them and check out my previous post on sports bras for more info.
4. Lifting weights that are too heavy/ not heavy enough or not lifting weights at all
Bottom line of why you should lift weights if you're not already: It tones you and makes you strong, and building muscle increasings your metabolism (meaning you'll burn more calories even when sitting still) Women, you will NOT bulk up, we just don't have the levels of testosterone for that.
Now for the two bad habits you'll often see:
a) People (more often than not, men) lifting weights that are too heavy for them and consequential compromise on their form - this is obviously going to increase the risk of injury.
b) People (more often than not, women) lifting weights that are too light for them. This won't pose much of a health risk, but it also won't add much of a health benefit. Remember: If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.
You'll know it's the right amount of weight when you break a bit of a sweat, feel that burn on the last few reps requiring you to self-cheer lead ("Ugggh, C'mon just 4 more!") and can still maintain good form.
5. Going to the gym every day of the week
The main reason this is bad for you, is that you'll never give your body time to heal or recover from a tough workout. Without this resting time, you'll never become stronger, faster or more agile and will almost certainly increase your chances of injury. Even people training for events will take a day off once in a while if not each week.
If you really cannot face a day of not going to the gym, then consider and 'active rest day' for example, taking a yoga class or going for a walk in the park.
Psychologically speaking, this may also be a sign of a potential eating disorder known as 'exercise bulimia' or 'compulsive exercise disorder'. If you think this may be the case, see your doctor for a chat.