10 Workout Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

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By: , – Linda Melone, Woman's Day
12/3/2012 12:00 PM   :  22 comments   :  28,552 Views

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You do the rowing machine at the gym and walk outdoors when weather permits. So why does your back hurt and why don't your skinny jeans still fit? Poor form can up injury risks and common calorie-burning misconceptions can sabotage weight-loss results. Here, top experts share the biggest exercise mistakes women make and safer ways to get the most out of your favorite workouts. 

Mistake 1: Holding the treadmill rails
Sure, it feels easier because you're partially supporting your body weight as you walk, but you cheat yourself out of a greater calorie burn, says Michele Olson, PhD, CSCS, a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM) and a professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Montgomery, AL. "Plus, you risk injury from using improper form."

Fitness fix: Stand firm and place only your fingertips on the rails. "If you need to grab the rails because of the incline, the grade isn’t appropriate for you," says Dr. Olson.  

Mistake 2: Strolling when walking outdoors.
That easy pace doesn’t lead to much calorie burning. "Women often overestimate their caloric expenditure," says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets—Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag. "The danger is in eating a muffin and thinking an hour of walking will burn it off."

Fitness fix: Speed up! A 150-pound woman burns about 140 more calories per hour walking at a brisk 4 mph than she does walking 2.5 mph, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. 

Mistake 3: Sitting too high or low on a stationary bike
This can strain your lower back, says Dr. Olson. "A seat that’s too low inhibits full use of the quadriceps and hamstrings, causing you to sit with your pelvis rolled under." On the other hand, a too-high seat can strain the Achilles tendon, she adds.
Fitness fix: "On each pedal stroke, the leg you push downward should become nearly straight, with your foot parallel to the floor," says Dr. Olson. If not, raise or lower the seat.

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