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6 common workout mistakes your clients may be making

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We all know regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Whatever your favourite type of workout, it strengthens our muscles and bones, reduces stress, improves sleep and boosts our memory. However, simply getting the workout done isn’t enough. There’s other factors to consider, such as form, hydration, and diet, and in order to get it right and reap the benefits of exercise, it’s important to do it correctly.

As a personal trainer, it’s your responsibility to ensure your clients are working out properly, whether that be in the execution of movements or nourishment thereafter. Helping others reach their fitness goals is a fun and rewarding job, however, with the industry adapting to conducting more frequent sessions online, it’s much more difficult to assess an individual’s posture and performance, making it easy for problems to occur. Here, we take a closer look at some of the common workout mistakes your clients might be making.

1. Poor posture

You may not think so but poor posture can impact someone’s ability to exercise. If your client spends eight hours a day hunched over their computer for work, soon enough their posture will change. We’re designed to walk, run, jump, skip — anything that gets us moving —  and long hours often prevents us from doing so. However, when our spines become accustomed to unusual positions, the muscles, joints, and vertebrae are put under stress. This can impact our bodies in many ways. The glutes, for instance, are vital for functionality and effective exercise performance but they’re not supposed to support our body weight. When improperly used, it can lead to a reduction in strength, performance, and possibly cause injury. 

Poor posture can also impact shoulder movement, causing tightness in the chest, neck, and shoulder muscles and increasing the risk of injury while exercising the upper body. Sitting in the same position for too long often means the core muscles aren’t engaged, and this lack of strength will reduce power input during exercise and increase chances of lower back problems. You might be able to tell if your client has poor posture if they have rounded shoulders, bent knees when standing or walking, back pain, or muscle fatigue.

2. Dehydration

Dehydration limits your client’s performance levels in a number of ways. They might be unable to think clearly, be fatigued and have slower body functions. As we exercise, our body naturally loses fluids so it’s important to replace these. If your clients aren’t adequately hydrated, their workout may be ineffective. 

Some tell-tale signs of dehydration include headaches, slower reaction times, muscle cramps, confusion, and general weakness. Getting the right amount of water before, during, and after is essential to performance and recovery. Six to eight glasses of fluid a day is what the NHS Eatwell Guide recommends, so remind your client’s to hydrate throughout your sessions. Not only that, suggest eating water-rich foods too, such as strawberries, tomatoes, oranges, and cucumber. Isotonic drinks are also helpful to replenish lost electrolytes.

3. Eating poorly

Under-fuelling is one of the biggest workout mistakes your clients can make. They may be eating too little, not realising the impact of a strenuous workout, eating too much and experiencing weight gain despite exercise, or they might just be consuming the wrong types of foods. But fuelling is so important for performance levels. Your clients may feel sluggish, sleep poorly, and be in a bad mood otherwise. Most people underestimate the importance of nutrition alongside exercise, often believing you can exercise your way out of a bad diet. However, this is ill-advised since nourishing fuel is needed for workouts to be conducted at a worthwhile level. It is also worth considering that, although exercise is a vital tool in improving health, many people overestimate its ability to burn calories.

Instead, think of fitness and nutrition as a power couple. If your client isn’t eating well enough, they may fail to reach their fitness goals. As such, they need to find the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to boost their workouts. When this balance is perfectly striked, alongside sufficient hydration and eating at the right times, athletic performance can improve and fatigue decreases.

4. Overtraining

Pushing too hard is another common problem. There is a fine line between intensity and overdoing it, and the issue is that the latter prevents the body from bouncing back. This means that your client may feel achy and sore for much too long. Our muscles need time to recover after every workout and failing to let the body do its magic can lead to unnecessary stress placed on the muscles, joints, and bones, which will impact performance overall. Yes, it’s normal to feel sore for up to 48 hours after a hard workout, but if the pain exceeds this, it might point to an overuse injury. While your client does need to challenge themselves to reap the benefits, taking it a step too far can negatively impact their ability to exercise. Look out for some of these common signs (and complaints from clients) to identify whether they’re overdoing it.

5. Doing the same workouts

We’re naturally creatures of habit, and this can easily affect your client’s workout routines. However, in order for anyone to make progress and see results, the body needs to be challenged. Over time, if your clients are doing the same exercise sequence every session, it’s likely they’ll end up plateauing. This repetitive movement can make people more prone to overuse injuries and cause damage to bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. 

For example, if a runner runs at the same pace at the same incline every time, they may experience plantar fasciitis. While repetition is good for overall sports performance, it doesn’t aid weight loss, increase strength, or help physical fitness progression. When planning your client’s workouts, it’s best to switch it up often, around every two weeks to ensure there is progressive overload. Doing this can help prevent problems and make exercise a little more exciting. Change the type of workout, add more weight, or increase the reps, for instance.

6. Treating their weight as the only signifier of progress

Measuring weight as the only indicator of progress from exercise is a big mistake. Looking for proof by stepping on the scale is likely to set an individual up for disappointment. This is because many new exercisers build muscle and lose fat (this is a good thing) but the scales aren’t capable of showing body composition. So, while it may look like the number is increasing, it might just be muscle gain rather than fat. This is especially relevant when you consider that muscle mass weighs far more.

Regardless, an increasing number can very easily dishearten and demotivate your client, making them feel like a failure even if they’re progressing in performance. Weight simply isn’t always the best indicator of success. The scales fail to show internal body changes and improvements in strength and endurance. There are other ways of measuring their success though, including progress photos, circumference measurements, overall performance, and general wellbeing – if your client feels better, then that should be a great indicator that things are moving in the right direction

As a personal trainer, it’s essential you have sufficient insurance to cover you and your business should something go wrong, such as a client injuring themselves during training. In the event something like this does happen, it could lead to hefty compensation and legal fees, which could disrupt you financially, so insurance is vital.


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