Published: Jul 27, 2012 8:21 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 27, 2012 8:42 AM EDT

Fitness is a lifestyle! Many of my clients rush into the gym after
realizing they only have six weeks to get into what they expect to be
the best shape of their lives before a big event or vacation. It’s
completely unrealistic, especially when it takes advanced runners 16
weeks to prepare for a marathon, or a body builder about the same time
frame just to diet!


Any time you're eager to achieve faster results, you're more likely to
cheat — whether you're conscious of it or not. If you strength train,
that might mean using more weight than you're ready to handle, or,
altering your posture to make a move easier to perform (so you can do
it for a longer period of time and feel you're reaping more rewards).

*The problem: Not using proper form diminishes your results by
cheating certain muscles out of a great workout while placing
unnecessary stress on other parts of your body, setting you up to get

SOLUTION: Use Multiple Mirrors or a Camera

Try exercising in front of more than one mirror, so you're not only
seeing one angle of yourself. It is easy for your arms, knees, feet,
lower back, and shoulders each to be out of alignment. Better than
trusting what you see, record yourself from a different angle each set
— front, side, back, and even down when possible — to reveal where you
may be sacrificing your form.

*Pay attention to the very last reps of each set or the very end of
your run, ride, etc. — that's where you'll be most likely to break
form and cause your body undue stress.

WORKOUT MISTAKE: Always Expecting Improvement

The math seems simple enough. The more you exercise, the fitter you'll
be. But that doesn't mean that every day you'll eke out a little more
results from your workout than the day before. Expecting that kind of
improvement each and every day may cause you to push yourself harder
on days when your body needs a break.

SOLUTION: Watch for Outside Interference

As you track your workout progress, make a point to also track any
dietary changes, irregular sleeping patterns, and any other day-to-day
issues that may play a part in affecting your exercise performance.
Monitoring all of these things may explain why some of your workouts
are better than others, so you don't push yourself harder than
necessary. Keeping track doesn't have to be overwhelming — just use
this easy checklist at the end of the day.

- Has your day been relatively stress-free?
- Did you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep?
- Did you drink at least 64 ounces of water?
- Did you eat at least 8 ounces of protein
- Did you abstain from drinking alcohol?
- Was the weather nice outside?

You'll start to see a pattern on how your workout is affected by how
you're spending the rest of your day. That know-how can help you
figure out which days you may want to give yourself more slack — and
which days you may want to really challenge yourself.

WORKOUT MISTAKE: Too Much Of A Good Thing

Many people that desperately jump back into exercise tend to race
towards the exercises their body responds to the best for fast
results, instead of creating a balanced workout that works their
muscles evenly. For men, that usually means overworking their chest
and biceps, while women tend to overdo squats and lunges. This can
cause certain muscles to overdevelop, tighten, and eventually pull
your body — especially your shoulders, spine, and knees — out of

SOLUTION: Use the One-for-One Rule

The hard-and-fast way to determine your odds of injuring yourself
(although it's not an exact science) is simply to write out each
exercise in your routine on a sheet of paper. Next, draw a line from
each exercise you like to do to another exercise that works the
muscles behind (or in front) of it. For example: For every chest
exercise, there should be an upper back move, for every ab exercise,
there should be a lower back move, for every biceps exercise, there
should be a triceps move, for every quadriceps exercise, there should
be a hamstrings move.

WORKOUT MISTAKE: You haven't changed your diet.
Exercise is awesome, but if you're not eating a nutritious diet with
the appropriate number of calories for weight management, you could be
shooting yourself in the foot. Proper nutrition fuels your workouts,
but eat too much and you could gain weight (or hurt your weight-loss
efforts), and eat too little, and you won't have enough energy to

SOLUTION:  Start a Food Journal
If you can't seem to see those muscles you're trying to build, start
logging your foods to see how many calories you're eating a day. If
you're regularly eating more than you should (it just takes an extra
100 calories a day to gain an extra pound a month), then try choosing
lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods and slowly decreasing
your caloric intake until you're at the right level! On the flip side
of that, if you find that you're eating too few calories, that can
also slow your metabolism and leave you drained at the gym.

WORKOUT MISTAKE: Doing the Same Routine
While consistency is important, doing the same routine over and over
means your body will stop responding to the exercise. Adaptation
happens pretty fast, no matter what type of workout you're doing -
your body is just that smart.

SOLUTION:  Change it up!
Make sure you're rotating your workouts throughout the week and you'll
see much better results in the mirror.