If you want to improve your health, function, and fitness, creating more margin for your muscular system is a must-do. Last week, I discussed three ways that you can go about doing exactly this. But, there’s another way, as well, and that is to cut out the bad habits that are breaking down your muscular system. Specifically, you need to cut out the bad exercise habits that are detrimental to the health, function, and fitness of your muscular system. Here are the three most common ones I see:
Bad Habit #1: Not Allowing Your Body To Recover From Activity
The first bad exercise habit I see people doing is not allowing their body recover from activity. People are performing a high volume of exercise that uses their body, but engaging in little to no activity that (re)builds their body. For a detailed explanation of the difference, see this post. Additionally, people are working out to the point of soreness and continuing to workout during the following days when they are still sore. Again, this indicates a lack of recovery from the workouts that are being done and has to potential to be detrimental to the health, function, and fitness of the muscular system. For some tips on how to exercise when you are sore, see our advice here.
If you are interested in engaging in more activities that (re)build your body instead of just doing ones that use your body, I have three suggestions. First, add in specific recovery days each week where you are doing a lighter amount of exercise. If you follow me on Instagram, I have been posting content about this to my Instagram story, so make sure to give me a follow and check that out!
Second, find an MAT® practitioner in your area who can assess your body and figure out exactly which muscles are being overworked. Not only will they be able to identify these muscles, they will be able to address these muscles and help get them back up to par, as well. To find a practitioner in your area, click here.
Third, engage in strategically designed, internally focused resistance training. This is the type of exercise we do here at Muscle Activation Schaumburg and it completely changes the game for anybody who does it. More on this in bad habit #2.
Bad Habit #2: Not Doing Exercise For The Health Of Your Muscles
The second bad exercise habit I see is that people fail to do exercise for the health of their muscles. They are so focused on doing exercise for burning calories, working their heart, or getting a good sweat that they completely neglect the parts of their body that are allowing them to exercise in the first place – their muscles! The challenge we face as consumers of exercise is that exercise is rarely advertised as intended to improve the health of our muscles. Instead, it is almost always promoted as “calorie burning”, “heart healthy”, “weight loss”, etc. This has put the consumer in the difficult situation of understanding that they need something that they don’t even know exists – exercise that (re)builds your body!
All of the above examples would fall into the category of exercise that uses your body. Now, doing these activities is not the issue. The issue is the absence of doing activities that (re)build your body.
Let me repeat that. Doing cardio, yoga, kickboxing, CrossFit, running, etc. is not the issue. The issue is not doing exercises that (re)build your body. So, good news! You can keep doing all of the activities you enjoy doing most, BUT, you need to include some activities that (re)build your body. Again, for a more in-depth discussion of this, check out this post.
Bad Habit #3: Presenting The Same Mechanical Challenges Over & Over
This is always a fun one to discuss with people who are professional exercisers, but not exercise professionals. So often we fall into the trap of, “This exercise has a different name so it must be a different exercise”. Except your muscles don’t know the names of exercises. They only know the challenge that is being placed upon them.
So, when analyzing the mechanics of say, a squat, lunge, deadlift, split squat, and step-up, they are all pretty much the same. Yes, I know some may be done on one leg. Some may be done with dumbbells. But, for all intensive purposes, they are basically the same mechanical challenge to your body. In fact, almost all bodyweight and free weight exercises are going to present pretty close to the same mechanical challenge to your body. Which means unless you are strategically incorporating something like cables, machines, or isometrics into your training, you are likely falling into the bad habit of presenting the same mechanical challenge over and over.
Now, when I say mechanical challenge, what I am talking about is the relative challenge or torque generating requirements of the muscle at a given length of a muscle. What most free weight and body weight exercises have in common is they are really good and creating a challenge when the muscle is longer and in its mid range, but they often fail to create an appropriate challenge as the muscle gets closer to its shortened position. For an understanding of why it is absolutely vital that you challenge your muscles in their shortened position and build strength there, reference this post.
So there you have it, the three most common bad exercise habits I see for the health, function, and fitness of the muscular system. Remember, it is important to create margin within your muscular system because it will allow you to reduce the likelihood of both chronic and traumatic muscle-related issues occuring, it will allow you to keep doing the activities you enjoy most, and it will help you to build resiliency to everyday stresses. In addition to the three ways I discussed doing this last week, you can also build more margin in your muscular system by cutting out the bad habits above.