Nicole Nam has a Bachelors of Science in Public Health Nutrition Specialization and a Masters of Science in Kinesiology. She has a personal training certification from the American Council of Exercise, and has trained a variety of clients, including a contestant in this year’s Miss Nevada competition. Follow her on Instagram here.
As a personal trainer, I see a lot of my clients struggle with information overload. So much contradicting information is thrown at you that you don’t know wtf to believe. I always want my clients, and Betches readers, to approach every piece of information you read/hear/come across pertaining to fitness and wellness with a subjective mindset. No two bodies are the same—so what works for one person might not work for you for many reasons, whether it’s biological makeup or cultural preferences. (Example: you won’t find me on the keto diet—I’m Asian, I was raised on rice and noodles and carbs.) Fitness and achieving your dream body is about finding what works for you.
That said, I want to give you five general diet and exercise mistakes that I’ve seen hinder my clients’ progress despite their age, their genetic makeup, and their lifestyle. Get ready for some harsh truths. Take from this article what you will, because maybe some of these mistakes are things you’re doing and finding success with. If that’s the case, IGNORE ME. Listen to your body first.
1. Doing Only Cardio, Or Only Weights
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A lot of my beginner clients were cardio addicts. They loved cardio because it’s easy. It’s one movement for an extended period of time—they don’t have to mess with equipment, they don’t have to come up with a routine, and they don’t have to learn how to properly execute movements. But weights changed their lives. The thing is, cardio alone will not give you the muscle tone that you want. What it WILL do is make you lose weight. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you. On the other hand, if you hop on social media you’ll see fitness models praise the weights-only method. They don’t do cardio, or they’ll do 15 minutes max. They lift heavy weights only. From personal experience, doing weights ONLY (especially if you lift medium-heavy) can cause weight gain (due to increased muscle, but the same amount of fat) and a bulkier look. Again, whether that’s good or bad is up to you. My clients want to lose fat and increase muscle simultaneously, so the best solution that I have found for myself AND my clients is to split it 50-50. If we have an hour to work, we do 30 minutes of cardio with 30 minutes of weights.
2. Not Drinking Water
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Drink that sh*t. It helps your body to recover from physical activity, flushes out toxins, and it will also help you figure out REAL hunger—not hunger from thirst or hunger from boredom. Don’t drink Vitamin Water, don’t drink diet soda…WHY. Why do that to yourself? Your body doesn’t need that. Your body needs clean, pure WATER.
3. Not Taking Days Off
How I work out:
-Run a mile or whatever
-Spend the next 2-3 days too sore to move
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) February 11, 2019
Some of my clients are super ambitious and strong-willed, or they’re working on a time crunch to be a certain size. They’ll train a total of six days a week, and do the same body parts all six days a week. Then they’ll complain to me about not seeing results. Well sweetie, that’s because you’ve torn down your muscle fibers to shreds! You’ve not given the fibers time to repair themselves (which is where you see results). Regardless of their deadline, I require my clients to take two days off from training a week and take one day to do restorative low-impact exercises such as yoga or Pilates. The other four days, you have my permission to go balls to the walls with it.
4. Trying To Outrun A Bad Diet
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I can’t help you work off all the bullsh*t you eat if you’re steadily eating bullsh*t. Just because we did a 90-minute session does not give you an excuse to eat whatever you want, especially if you’re serious about your goals and ESPECIALLY if we’re working with a four-week deadline for your wedding. Throw out all the crap in your house, and do not restock your cupboard with all that damn junk food just to torture yourself. What are you gonna do? Stare at it, until you give in and finally eat it anyway? That’s not going to work. There’s a reason they say “you can’t outrun a bad diet”.
The more you cook, the more you know what is going into your body. Try to find the joy in cooking, even if it’s something that a 6-year-old could make like scrambled eggs. Keep eating out at restaurants to a minimum if you’re trying to lose weight. That’s because restaurants’ main concerns are the taste of their food and their Yelp reviews—they could give a damn about your fitness goals. For example, restaurant scrambled eggs often have unnecessary sh*t like cream, cheese, or tons of butter that could turn your innocent scrambled eggs into a calorie bomb. Invest in a good nonstick pan, make your own scrambled eggs and spinach, and you’ve probably just cut the calories in half.
5. Not Taking Vitamins
When your body is deficient in a certain vitamin, it translates into a craving. Craving “fatty” foods like butter and cheese? Could be a lack of Omega-3’s. Craving chocolate? Maybe your magnesium levels are low. Craving super salty or super sweet foods? A zinc supplement could help. Bottom line is, when your cells are hungry you will most likely be too. This is also the case for those that are cutting out whole food groups such as those on any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets.
Now that you’re aware of these common diet and exercise mistakes, you can stop falling into these traps and start achieving your fitness goals.
Images: betches (2), dietstartstomorrow, daddyissues_ / Instagram; betchesluvthis / Twitter
As a gym-goer (you cannot visit this site without being a member of a gym that costs almost as much as your monthly rent), you’re surely aware of the CrossFit-ization of our once-great nation’s fitness fanatics. This is largely bad, because it’s caused many a dork to delude himself into thinking that exercise is a sport in and of itself, despite their newfound quadriceps making them no better at hitting a baseball or sinking a free throw than they were back when they were getting picked last for grade school kickball. There is, however, one silver lining: the rise of “functional fitness,” i.e., exercises that actually get you in better shape.
Now, everyone’s living that #squatlife, even novices. Which is great! But for people just starting out, it’s sometimes wise to work up to an exercise before loading up a couple hundo’ on the olympic platform and deadlifting until you shit out your own colon. Those people can gently introduce themselves through modified exercises, colloquially called “modifiers.” This is also great , but the problem is that not all modifiers are created equal. I’ve put together a list of popular “functional” exercises, the most common modifiers, and better alternatives for people who want to get Khloé Kardashian’s bod without the ass injections.
Before there was such a thing as “plank,” everyone else knew it as “the top of a fucking push-up.” With your body taut, feet together, and your hands underneath (and roughly as wide as) your shoulders, lower yourself until your chest jussssst touches the ground, and push back up (hence the name!). It’s a great way to build strength and endurance in your chest, shoulders, and triceps, and it involves core and stabilizing muscles in ways that machines and even free weight exercises don’t. Unfortunately, because God knew damn well that men would be insecure as hell, he blessed us with naturally superior upper-body strength that makes these a breeze—but lots of women might find them difficult.
Bad: Partial/Kneeling Push-Ups
I don’t mind knee push-ups, which I’ll get to in a second. The bigger problem is that I’ve noticed some trainers/online fitness idiots recommending women instead do push-ups on their feet, only going “as far as they can,” i.e., about halfway. This is bullshit. You wouldn’t do half a squat, half a bicep curl, or give half of a hand job and declare it “the same as the real thing,” would you? I sincerely hope not, otherwise you are WEAK and/or bad company in uncrowded movie theaters.
Better: Elevated Push-Ups
The key with push-ups is that they get harder the smaller the angle between your body and the ground gets. Ergo, instead of doing 15 half push-ups and fucking off to the juice bar or whatever, find a way to elevate your hands. Every gym has some of those aerobics platforms for old ladies that you can stack about 18 inches high. If that’s still too hard, grab a weight bench or even a low wall and perform the motion with good form. As you get stronger, lower the platform. Kneeling push-ups should actually be your last step on this journey. Basically, if you can perform 15 or so push-ups at your current level of assistance, it’s time to lower your angle. There’s still a decent jump from kneeling to actual push-ups, in which case it’s totally fine to start out on your toes and drop to your knees as needed to finish the set.
Ah, squats. They’re the foundational exercises for every THOT who gets fired from Panera and decides they’re going to start a #fitspo Instagram—and tbh, they should be foundational for everyone. Resting a weighted bar across your shoulders as high up as your trapezius muscles will allow, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly out. Drop your butt back and down, feeling as though there’s a string pulling your head upward as you drop your ass as low to the ground as possible. Get the crease in your hips at or below your knees before extending from your heels back to full height. It’s a MONSTER exercise for your entire lower body, but not everyone is ready to step into a squat cage with all those meatheads flexing and milling about. Plus, even just the 45-pound bar can be a lot for newbies, and a lack of trapezius muscles can make it uncomfortable.
Bad: The Sled/Leg Press
This is that big contraption where you lay down in a recumbent position near the ground, using your legs to push the weight out and away from you. You feel like an absolute GOD on this machine, because even fairweather gym-goers can put up solid weight. The problem? It fucking sucks. For starters, it’s the opposite of “functional”—of course you can push a lot of weight when you’re braced against something solid, but do you envision a situation where you’ll ever be lying on your back and have to leg-press a Toyota? I sure hope not. What’s worse, it can genuinely and sincerely fuck up your back six ways from Sunday. Do you want to spend the rest of your life walking around like that? Hell no.
Better: The Hack Squat
I’m tempted to include dumbbell squats here too, because there’s nothing wrong with those as exercises on their own. But if you really want to prepare for the squat cage, the hack squat machine is your friend. It’s that machine usually located somewhere near the leg press that looks like a medieval torture device, except it’s anything but. Load on an experimental amount of weight, settle your shoulders into the cradle, and use the levers to unlock it. Making sure you place your feet so that your knees don’t extend too far out over your toes, lower yourself as low as possible, just like a real squat. The beauty is that it does a much better job of simulating the movement, and if you get stuck it’s easy to lock the machine and bail out (plus, everyone’s too busy herniating their spines on the sled so it’s always open). It’s kinda tough to determine how much weight you’re pushing because of the angle, but I’d say that if you get to a point where you can do 8-10 good hack squats with 100 pounds on the rack, you’re ready to move to the cage.
I probably don’t need to explain pull-ups too much: grab onto a bar/rings/the skid of the helicopter with which terrorists are trying to abduct the president, and pull yourself up until your chin reaches or passes the bar. There are any number of hand positions you can use to make the exercise easier or harder, but that’s not the point. The problem is that I would wager most men can’t do more than one or two pull-ups, to say nothing for how hard it is for most women. Honestly, you may never be able to do more than one, if any. But that’s ok! It’s still a goal to work towards.
Bad: Lat Pull-Downs
This is the rig usually found on the end of a larger cable machine: a seat with pads to hold your knees in place, with a pulley above with a bar that you pull down to your collarbone (or behind your head, if you’re feeling spicy). Like a lot of modifiers, there’s nothing inherently bad about it—it is, in fact, a great way to strengthen your lats, and your lats are a big part of a pull-up. But it does fuck-all to simulate a pull-up, and that’s what we’re after here. We can do better.
Better: Assisted Pull-Ups
There are two mechanisms for this, and they’re kind of a progression. The first (and easiest) is a machine specifically designated for assisted pull-ups: select an amount of assistance to counteract your own body weight, either step or kneel onto the assist bar/platform (depending on the design), and get to pull-uppin’. Even in machine form it’s better than a lat pull, because you’re moving your body through space. It’s also closer to how your body actually moves on a bar, i.e., no excessive leaning back like you see people do on the lat pulls. The second option is to use a pull-up assist band (or collection of bands) on a by-God pull-up bar: attach the band according to the instructions, rest your knee or foot in the loop, and do pull-ups as the elastic gives you a little boost. This is just like doing real pull-ups, because your body can swing freely just as it would with no assistance at all. Real talk, if 6-8 band-assisted pull-ups are as far as you ever get, you’re still doing better than 90% of the population. No shame in that game.
If squats are the NY style pizza of exercises (iconic, foundational, and unimpeachable), then deadlifts are Chicago deep dish—similar yet a little different, but no less important. With an olympic bar at your feet, stick your butt out and squat down as far as you need to grab it with extended arms. Then, keeping your chest high and your back straight, again feel that string pulling your head up as you push through your heels back to upright. The bar should ride jusssttt in front of your shins, and finish on your thighs. It’s not entirely un squat-like, but a) you aren’t squatting as deep, and b) because the weight is in front of you, it works the back of your body more—specifically the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. It does, however, present similar challenges to squats: big scary weights and the people who use them, and discomfort (this time, in the form of potentially skinning your shins with the bar).
Bad: The Hex Bar
If you’ve ever worked with a trainer, you may have used this device. A closed hexagon with extensions for barbells on either side, you step into it, reach down and grab the handles, and then do your deadlifts that way, avoiding unpleasantness like the olympic platforms and skinned shins. Easy, right? Wrong. While the hex bar is great for big dudes who want to do shrugs, it’s no good for deadlifts because you’re not doing a deadlift at all—because the bar moves the weight from in front of you to in-line with your center of gravity, what you end up doing is a glorified dumbbell squat. A fine exercise, but not what we’re after here.
Better: Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts
I’m breaking the theme here because this doesn’t exactly mimic an olympic deadlift, but remember what a deadlift is supposed to work: the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The only reason a regular deadlift involves the quads is because you have to squat down to pick it up without fucking up your back, but there’s no need to do that to hit the core areas. Grab a couple of reasonably heavy dumbbells (IDK, in the 20-pound range to start?), and stand with them in front of your thighs, palms facing in. Let the air out of your knees (i.e., don’t lock them out, but don’t bend them either), and bend from the waist, moving your butt out and back and keeping your back straight, feeling like your chest is high. The dumbbells should track pretty close to your legs the whole time, as they would if you were doing these with a bar. To start, you might want to do these sideways in front of a mirror—watch yourself, and as soon as you see your lower back start to round, that’s as far as you can go. You’ll be able to go deeper as your hamstrings stretch and get stronger, but for now take it slow. You should feel your quads brace as you go down, but on the way back up you should feel a deliberate pull from your glutes and hamstrings. I think if you get to a point where you can do a few sets of 10 reps with 35- to 40-lb dumbbells in your hands, you’re more than ready for the bar.
This girl actually goes a little too far, note how her back starts to round.
There are some topics that just sweep the American nation and suddenly become all anyone talks about. Kylie’s pregnancy. Game of Thrones. The new La Croix flavors. And of course, the trendiest workout classes. If you’re not part of the convo, it’s awkward. Fitness classes are becoming more popular by the second, and betches are flocking towards them like the birds flying south for winter. With so many newbies in all these classes, you’re probably doing a lot of shit wrong. I mean, the trainers at most of these studios are usually legit, but they aren’t watching your every move, so you could be screwing up without realizing. Here are 6 mistakes you’re making in your workout class.
1. Using The Lightest Weights Available
We know most spin classes only offer one- and two-pound weights, but right now we’re talking about classes that have a strength training component, not only cardio. If you’re taking any sort of HIIT training class with weights or a circuit-based class, you need to be challenging yourself with the weights you use, or else you’re wasting your time and money. It makes sense to grab the lightest weights if you’re a total newbie, but if you’ve come a handful of times and haven’t changed your weights yet, your body will plateau and you’ll stop seeing results. Grab a weight that’s hard enough but not too heavy that you’ll literally injure yourself after one squat. Like, the goal is to be sore tomorrow. Not crippled.
2. Doing The Moves Too Fast
This is a huge problem in basically every single class, whether you’re doing pilates, barre, yoga, HIIT, or boxing. Even if the class is supposed to be high-intensity, a lot of the exercises are actually more effective if you do them slower and really control the movement. We’re talking about exercises like bicycle crunches, pulsing squats, dumbbell rows, and plank dips. If you’re not feeling the muscle you’re supposed to be working, you’re going too fast and you need to chill. Not every part of class has to be your fastest sprint, so try to actually think about the muscle you’re working, and SLOW DOWN to really feel the burn. By rushing through the movements, you’re totally defeating the purpose of the workout.
3. Putting Pressure On Your Knees
A lot of classes do lower-body leg work, and that’s when your form actually matters. A lot. Whether you’re looking to strengthen, tone, burn, grow—or whatever the hell they’re selling you on—you need to stop putting pressure on your knees. Doing exercises like squats and lunges can be super tough on your joints if your form is wrong, so make sure your knees are completely behind your feet during these movements, or else you’ll end up pressing down on the joint and hurting yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your heaviest weight or no weight at all. Your body weighs enough to strain your knee, so just take your time and fix your form before you do any damage. No one wants to tell people they got injured in a Tracy Anderson class.
4. Leaning Forward On The Treadmill
Treadmill classes have been huge lately, and it’s probably because everyone realized how boring the treadmill is when you don’t have someone yelling at you to speed up every 30 seconds. Classes like Barry’s Bootcamp and Mile High Run Club are effective and hard AF, but they don’t always correct your form when you’re running, so you need to take matters into our own hands. When you’re running on the treadmill, stop leaning forward and stop looking down. You’ll end up over striding, which means you’ll put unnecessary pressure on your hips and knees. Remember, your foot should be landing beneath you, not in front of you. Keep your core engaged and your posture straight and try to look forward. Oh, and please stop holding onto the sides. You’re literally cheating.
5. Giving Up When You Feel The Burn
This refers to any sort of endurance training, whether you’re burning your muscles in barre or doing a 60-minute spin class. Basically, when you put your body through an endurance workout, it’s tempting to give up when you get tired or your muscles start burning. What you don’t realize, however, is that the burn just means your body is being challenged in a way it’s not used to. It doesn’t mean you should stop squatting when your legs start shaking and you’re a little uncomfortable. Don’t be that girl who stands up in barre before the teacher says, “10 more seconds.” I mean, you’ve already paid $38 for this class, and an extra $12 for the special socks. Don’t ruin it for yourself.
6. Not Warming Up & Not Stretching
People tend to think warming up before a workout and stretching afterwards is a friendly suggestion. Kind of like getting edamame with your sushi order—not necessary, but recommended to just round out the experience. Well, it’s not. If you don’t warm up before your workout, you could end up majorly injuring yourself and shocking your system. Your blood needs to start moving before the workout, whether that means doing some jumping jacks before class, jogging to the studio, or doing some arm circles in the locker room when no one’s looking. The stretch after class is even more important, considering the fact that you’ll be sore AF tomorrow. I know the shower line is long, but it’s literally like three more minutes of your time to stay through the stretching portion. You’ll thank yourself when you can get out of bed tomorrow.
Navigating the gym can be more complicated than navigating an H&M on Black Friday (but like, minus all the 12-year-olds in crop tops). We don’t blame you for being confused and frustrated when working out. You’re probably already exhausted just by pulling on your leggings and convincing yourself to leave the house, and by the time you show up ready to work out, no one’s there to tell you what to do or show you what you’re doing wrong. If you’re scared you’re doing every exercise wrong, that’s because you probably are. Luckily for you, we’ve already made those mistakes and learned from them, so we’re here to help you out. Here are the areas where you’re screwing up at the gym:
1. Your Warm-Up
If you think the best way to warm up before a workout is to stretch out your muscles as much as you can, you’re literally sabotaging your body and setting yourself up for an injury. Static stretches, referring to stretches that are held for a long period of time, are meant to be done after your workout, and if you do them before, you’re actually making your muscles weaker and making yourself more likely to get injured. Instead of holding stretches for long periods of time, do quick, dynamic stretches before you work out, like walking lunges and arm circles. By replacing long-held stretches with quick dynamic ones, you’re increasing your flexibility and getting your body ready in the right way, so you’re less likely to twist an ankle mid-treadmill sprint.
2. Your Planks
Planking is a v popular exercise in the gym, because everyone loves a good ab burn, and it seems easy enough to do. You basically just lie there on your forearms for like, 30-60 seconds while trying not to die. Here’s the thing you’re missing, though. If you’re activating the correct muscles, planking shouldn’t be that easy, and if it is, you’re doing it wrong. When you’re in a forearm plank, your shoulders are supposed to be directly over your wrists, and you should be squeezing basically every muscle in your body, including your butt and legs. Your butt should be slightly higher than you’d think, and you should be pulling your lat muscles downward (those are the muscles in your upper back). Once you fix your form, your planks will be harder and you’ll feel the burn in your abs much faster. Stop wasting your time on bullshit planks that aren’t doing anything for your body.
3. Your Elliptical & StairMaster Form
If you’re choosing to use a cardio machine at the gym, at least make sure you’re not cheating your way through the workout. So many girls spend hours on the elliptical or StairMaster, and they’re just wasting everyone’s time because they’re taking the pressure off their leg muscles. When you’re on these machines, stop holding onto the sides, and keep good posture the whole time. The machine is just there to support you, so you don’t have to death grip the handles like you’re gonna fall over. Plus, when you’re hunched over, you’re taking the exercise away from your legs, so you just end up burning less calories than you could have if your form was right.
4. Your Squats
Squats are obv the go-to butt exercise at the moment, and butts are like, so hot right now. Why do you think Khloé Kardashian has 70 million Instagram followers? It’s not because of her denim brand. Squats are one of those exercises that could be super effective if they’re done right, but if they’re not, you could seriously hurt yourself. And embarrass yourself. Whether you’re doing bodyweight squats or holding a kettlebell or dumbbells, make sure you keep your gaze forward the entire time and go as low as possible at the bottom. So many people look down at the ground or just sit halfway down, and it’s just so stupid. You’re setting yourself up for a neck or lower back injury and you’re not getting the full range of motion. Half-ass your squats and end up with half an ass. It’s as simple as that.
5. Your Lunges
Lunges are another move that are amazing for your butt and legs, but so many people screw up their form on these, and it’s pretty tragic to watch. Make sure that when you lunge forward, you’re not over-extending your knee so that it’s past your foot. Otherwise, you’re literally asking for an injury. You want your legs to be at a 90 degree angle, with your back knee basically hitting the ground. Again—it’s about FULL range of motion. You can do a million lunges that are basically big steps, but that won’t do anything for your body. Fix your form and the difference will show. You’ll also be sore AF tomorrow, but let’s move past that already. It’s getting old.
6. Your Rep Count
A lot of people come to the gym and pick up the lightest weights just to do 10 million reps and put them away without even breaking a sweat. News flash: if you’ve been doing bicep curls using 5 pound weights for the past year, it’s time to graduate. Not every gym session has to look like the SoulCycle arm series, so let’s start using some heavier weights every now and then. We promise you won’t bulk up, so shut up about that. Doing a lot of reps of light weights for a long time will just lead you to plateau, and you’ll end up wasting your time at the gym if you don’t up your weights. Try picking up heavier weights and doing less reps. It might feel weird at first if it’s not what you’re used to, but your body needs to change things up sometimes to see changes. Trust us.
7. Your Treadmill Run
If you’re one of those girls who can spend hours on the treadmill without wanting to die, congratulations on being an actual psychopath. Treadmills are more boring than a 90-minute restorative yoga class, and it’s not even like we have anything better to do. With that being said, if you’re doing a treadmill workout, you might as well be doing it right. So many people look down when they’re on the treadmill, and it’s literally a recipe for disaster. Not only can you lose your balance and eat shit on the Equinox floor, but you can also strain the back of your neck and misalign the rest of your body. To run on the treadmill properly, keep your gaze straight and your chest open. You’ll be able to run for a longer amount of time and you’ll probably be less sore the next day.
8. Your Ab Routine
Everyone loves working their abs. It’s like, you know you won’t be able to laugh tomorrow, but it’s worth it because you’re literally gonna have a six-pack by Halloween. Here’s the thing you’re missing: Anyone can make their abs sore by doing half-ass bicycle crunches and a bunch of side planks, but unless you’re slowing down the movements and making sure your form is right, you won’t see any changes on your stomach. When doing exercises like crunches, planks, and sit-ups, make sure you’re going as slow as possible, totally engaging your core and doing complete reps. If you’re doing super fast bicycle crunches for two minutes and barely even engaging your core, you’re wasting your time and you’re not gonna get abs anytime soon. Sorry. You can try Sears.
From the moment you walk into a cycling studio until the moment you leave, the whole experience is one sweaty blur. I mean, unless you’re the front row freak wearing only a sexy sports bra who arrives 15 minutes early to chat with the instructor, no one really knows what they’re doing. You get there, set your bike settings to whatever looks right, and just start peddling, immediately regretting your decision to get out of bed for this shit. While you can’t screw it up that badly, you’re probably doing a few things wrong, and you could get a much better workout if you get your shit together a bit. Here are the mistakes you’re making in spin class.
1. Bouncing Side to Side Too Much
Spinning is all about the music, so a lot of people think it’s normal to start bouncing around the bike like a fucking bobble head. Like, you could literally be biking to a 12-minute Demi Lovato trap remix and you don’t even care how awful it is because you’re here already and the only thing that can make the class better is to dance around a bit. As tempting as it is, swaying your hips from side to side could actually ruin your workout. When cycling, your abs should be engaged the entire time, so your legs are the muscles doing the work while your core is staying stabilized. When you move your hips around, you’re destabilizing your core and moving too much to get the ab workout the bike was designed for. Stop bouncing from side to side and you might start seeing a huge difference.
2. Setting Your Handlebars Too Close To You
told me the world is gonna roll me made up a rule about measuring your elbow to your fingertip as a good benchmark for where your handlebars should be. Not only is this distance super random and ineffective, but it’s probably too close, and everyone’s bodies are different so it’s just about trial and error. Plus, our arms aren’t always in the same proportion to the rest of our bodies, so you could end up straining your lower back or leaning on your shoulders too much. Try getting on your bike first, and then seeing where your handlebars are most comfortable. You want to feel like you’re reaching outwards a bit without going over your handlebars when you’re in third position. You’re already way too close to the person’s ass right in front of your face. Don’t make this worse than it needs to be.
3. Keeping Your Seat Too Low
When you’re setting up your bike before class, you probably think you need to keep your seat lower than the handlebars, because it feels natural like riding a bike. Most people don’t realize that cycling bikes are actually built so that your quads, glutes, and hamstrings are all working at once. When you’re too low, you’re only using your quad muscles and not getting the total leg workout that you would by being up a bit higher. Put your seat on a higher level than you’d think it should be without your legs going completely straight in between peddling. It should feel like somewhere in between your childhood bicycle and an elliptical machine.
4. Death-Gripping The Handles
This is a mistake that a lot of people do without even realizing, but it could majorly jeopardize your workout. When you hold onto your handles super hard, you’re taking the workout away from your core and legs. It’s kind of like going on a run downhill. You’re still running the same amount of miles, but it’s obviously a million times easier because you’re not actually working your legs as much as you would on a flat road. I mean, we’re not saying you’re literally cheating if you hold onto the handlebars too tight, but you’re basically making the workout a LOT easier on yourself, so you’ll just end up burning less calories. The handlebars are really only there for support, so unless you’re about to fall off and embarrass yourself in front of the entire back row, stop holding on so tight.
5. Holding Your Breath
Holding your breath is pretty tempting when you’re 35 minutes into the class and you literally can’t feel your legs anymore. In fact, it may even seem easier just to stop breathing completely so you can be dragged out of class early by some much-needed medics. As much as we understand your thought process, holding your breath while spinning is just a bad idea. When your body is working hard and your muscles are moving, you need your breath to give your muscles energy. When you stop breathing, you’re just making the whole process harder for yourself, and you’ll end up just getting dizzy and probably falling off the bike. Like, that’s just a waste of everyone’s time and money.
6. Skipping The Stretch
When class is finally over and the teacher invites you to stick around for two minutes of stretching, don’t be the bitch that throws your towel on the ground and sprints to the shower line. It’s literally two minutes of stretching, and your legs could use it. Skipping the stretch will just make you more sore tomorrow, and could make your legs cramp up in the middle of the night if you’re taking a PM class. By simply stretching out your quads and glutes for those few moments, you’ll help release lactic acid in your muscles and prevent yourself from being too sore to move tomorrow. I mean, you’ve come this far, so don’t bail now.
If you’re working out at the gym, first of all, congratulations. You’ve made it farther than like, 92 percent of Americans, and honestly, we’re still eating hangover fries from Saturday. We’d hate to fuck with the betch that gets up before work to go to the gym, but we’d also like to help out. It turns out there’s like, a million exercise mistakes that people make on the reg, and if you don’t fix your form asap, you’re wasting your time. Here are the seven exercise mistakes you’re probably making and how to fix them:
1. Squats: You’re Only Squatting Halfway Down
This mistake is so common and so sad, because half-assing a squat will literally lead you to having half an ass. If you’re one of those girls who thinks squatting at the gym is supposed to look cute and bouncy, good luck with seeing any real results. The whole point of a squat is to engage the entire back of your leg and butt area, so you want to get as low as possible, keeping your thighs parallel to the ground and getting your butt below your thighs at the bottom of the movement. Also, make sure your knees don’t go in front of your feet. If you’re doing it right, you should be squatting lower than you would in the Delta terminal bathroom stall.
2. Running: You Have Bad Posture On the Treadmill
If you hopped on the treadmill ready to run with your Twerkout Workout Spotify playlist in hand, stop for a second and fix your posture. When it comes to cardio machines like the treadmill, Stair Climber, or the bike, most people are tempted to hunch over when they get tired, which will actually fuck up your workout and probably cause major back and neck pain. Try to keep your hands off the rails and maintain straight posture with your core tight while running. It also helps to look ahead and keep your neck as straight as you can. Don’t be the girl telling people about your injury from a 30 second sprint on an incline. No one sympathizes.
3. Lunges: You’re Putting Pressure On Your Knees
When you’re doing lunges, it’s important that your step forward is as big as possible. You don’t want to take a baby step and put pressure on your front knee, which can lead to a tendon strain. You want your front heel to be at least two feet in front of your back knee as it bends toward the floor. Also, lunges work your thighs and butt, so you also want your back knee to literally touch the ground in order to feel the move in your ass. If you need to slow down to make sure each step is big enough, do it.
4. Crunches: You’re Using Neck Instead Of Your Core
Any idiot knows that crunches work your abs, so overusing your neck needs to stop like, now. Using any sort of momentum from your hands or head to lift your torso up completely takes the exercise off your core, which makes the whole thing totally pointless. You need to contract your core the entire time and use ONLY the muscles in that area to lift you up. If you can’t nail the form on your crunches, stick to planks or standing side crunches. Just don’t waste your time putting your hands behind your head and pulling yourself upward to then hurt your neck. Everybody will laugh at you if you’re rocking a neck brace because you fucked up crunches.
5. Kettlebell Swings: You’re Using Upper Body Instead Of Lower
When done right, kettlebell swings are an amazing exercise for your entire lower body, because you’re explosively swinging the weight from underneath your butt into the air, using the momentum of your hips and thighs to get enough power in the swing. Most people, however, tend to swing the kettlebell with their arms, and they end up just lifting the weight from their legs to their shoulders without any lower body swing involved. The trick is to avoid lifting with your back and shoulders, and instead focus on a hinge in your hips, basically snapping the kettlebell forward, not upward. You should basically feel like you’re in the “Bend and Snap” scene in Legally Blonde.
6. Plyometric Moves: You’re Landing On The Wrong Part Of Your Foot
For those of you who don’t know, plyometric exercises refer to any moves where you’re jumping in different positions to get your heart rate up. Think jump squats, box jumps, jumping lunges, tuck jumps…. It’s a lot of jumping. But even though these moves are brutal and hard, you shouldn’t be punishing your heels in the process. Landing on your heels leads to injury super fast, and just makes the impact more intense than it needs to be. You should be landing on the middle part of your foot, and then rolling forward to push off the ball of the foot when jumping up. You should be sore tomorrow because of your muscles burning, not your feet.
7. Cool Down: You’re Skipping The Stretch
If you’re in a rush and don’t feel like staying at the gym for some extra credit cool down time, we get it, but it’s super important to take a couple minutes to stretch before heading out. Your soreness tomorrow will be 10 times worse if you don’t stretch, and you’ll probably cramp up later in the day. Spend a few minutes stretching out the muscles you worked. Do yoga stretches that target multiple areas so you can get the most out of a short stretching session, like pigeon pose, downward dog, and child’s pose. It’s annoying to postpone brunch a few minutes longer, but your body will thank you when you can move tomorrow without crying.