Although regular exercise is good for mind, body, and spirit, diving head first into an advanced exercise program is not encouraged.  It can even be dangerous if you don’t avoid some common mistakes.  If you’re a beginner, if have not been very active and living a sedentary lifestyle.  Your body isn’t prepared for the types of strains exercise can place on it.  As a result, engaging in an exercise program with out a plan of progression can lead to burnout, frustration and injury.  If you want to maximize your workout, it’s going to take a combination of motivation and starting at the appropriate exercise intensity.  So let’s review the 11 most common exercise mistakes that can be easily avoided.
1. Not seriously consider training with a Personal Trainer.  This service is not only affordable, but may be the best investment you make in your life.  Remember this is not your house or your car, so the do it yourself approach could be a bad idea and lead to the next 10 most common workout mistakes:
2. Skipping the warm-up.  Muscles need time to adjust to the demands placed on them during exercise.  Before hitting the gym or jumping into your regular cardio workout, you should take a few minutes to gently walk, cycle or whatever you choose to prepare the body for heavier activity.  Breaking a light sweat will get your blood pumping, warm up muscles and ligaments, a dynamic warm up can also greatly reduce your risk of injury and increase the effectiveness of your workout.
3. Skipping the cool-down.  Due to time constraints, many people head straight for the exit to get in the car after their last repetition or as soon as the time on the treadmill has been completed.  Instead, take a few minutes to lower your heart rate close to its resting rate.  This will reduce your risk of injury and give you a few minutes to incorporate some relaxation into your routine.
4. Not stretching.  Flexible muscles are far less likely to be pulled than tight ones.  Stretch before a heavy workout or after your workout as a warm-down.  Never stretch a muscle without warming up first to reduce your risk of injury even further. Regular stretching greatly increases your flexibility.
5. Lifting too much too fast.  Placing demands your muscles are not prepared to handle is the best way to injure yourself.  Gradual, progressive resistance is a far more effective and safe way to increase muscle strength.
6. Using too light of resistance.  If you want to improve, you have to keep your muscles stimulated.  If you continue to do the same weights with same number of reps, you will maintain your current physique and not advance.
7. Being a Weekend Warrior.  The mistake of the person who tries to fit a week’s worth of exercise into a Saturday afternoon!  Going from 0 to 60 with activity once or twice a week can lead injury or inactivity altogether.
8. Waiting until you are thirsty to drink.   Water is a necessity!  Don’t wait until you feel thirsty because you are already dehydrated at that point.  Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout.
9. Using bad form. It’s much more effective to choose a lower level, speed or weight and perform the exercise properly than it is to go too fast or too heavy and use poor form and momentum.  Lower the intensity to the point at which you can maintain good posture.  Poor form can be as simple as leaning and slouching over while on the cardio equipment or swinging the dumbbells during a bicep curl.
10. Resting too much. While it’s true you don’t want to overdo it, taking too much time in between exercises can decrease the training benefits and set you up for injury.
11. More is better. It’s not necessary to spend over an hour doing cardiovascular exercise.  Studies show that the risk of injury outweighs the benefits after 60 minutes.
Remember, exercise is only one link to a complete life of well-being. Mental, spiritual and psychological “workouts” are also important for our over all wellness. Trainers can help you avoid making the mistakes listed.   Your body will repay you!