As people continue to stay skeptical of going to high-contact areas like gyms, online workouts are becoming increasingly popular with time. They help people continue exercising in the safety of their homes while being cost-effective and time-saving. However, without the able guidance of an instructor in the same physical space, participants (especially beginners) may be prone to injuries while working out. Here are some common virtual workout mistakes people tend to make and tips to steer clear of them:
1) Not Taking Current Fitness Levels into Account
One of the most fundamental oversights with online workouts is not considering current fitness levels. With most people enthused about exercising at home since the pandemic hit, not keeping in mind current fitness levels before starting a workout is most likely to go wrong, potentially ending up in excruciating pain or injuries, especially for amateurs.
The best way to prevent such a problem is to understand to whom a particular virtual workout is designed before signing up. Beginners must steer clear of advanced-level classes, while those who exercise regularly must seek intermediate or advanced sessions.
It is also a good idea for participants to connect with the instructor, if possible, and discuss workout variations based on their fitness levels before the class begins. In the case of prerecorded workouts, starting at the appropriate level – beginner, intermediate, or advanced – is advisable. It may even help to look through the exercises once before starting.
Those who are pregnant or have pre-existing injuries or problems like back pain might be better off seeking a personalized class where the instructor can guide them every step of the way.
2) Skipping Warm-Ups and Stretching
Fitness experts suggest that no matter how short the duration of exercise is, a warm-up is an absolute must for optimized workout performance. Unfortunately, most people underestimate the power of a good warm-up.
While engaging in workouts at home, they tend to assume it’s okay to skip the warm-up, either due to lack of time or just plain laziness. They join the online session during the core routine and put themselves at risk of potential injuries. However, this is never a good idea as a warm-up helps the body in more ways than one – it ensures proper blood circulation, increases heart rate, and gets the muscles moving before the actual session.
The comprehensive text of Scott Powers’ Exercise Physiology discusses in-length about warm-up, stretching, and cool-down – “Prior to beginning the actual exercise session, a variety of very light exercises and stretches is recommended to improve the transition from rest to the exercise state. The emphasis at the onset of an exercise session is to gradually increase the level of activity until the proper intensity is reached.
Stretching exercises to increase the range of motion of the joints involved in the activity, as well as specific stretches to increase the flexibility of the lower back, are included in the warm-up. At the end of the activity session, about five minutes of cool-down activities – slow walking and stretching exercises – are recommended to gradually return HR and BP to normal. This part of the exercise session is viewed as important in reducing the chance of a hypotensive episode after the exercise session.”
3) Forgetting about Form
While online workouts are convenient, they don’t leave much scope for people to correct mistakes, especially in form. Working out at home means no instructor to guide people and ensure proper body position through every movement.
So, one needs to watch oneself carefully throughout to avoid potential injuries. And the best way to do this is to exercise in front of a mirror. While this may slow the workout initially, it will be worth the time spent in the long run. One can visually observe oneself and ensure that their form is accurate for every movement and hence get the most out of their workout.
4) Overexerting and Not Resting Enough
While it’s important to be consistent with home workouts, it’s just as vital to set aside time/days for rest to allow muscles to recuperate, especially after demanding sessions. Resting intermittently even while doing virtual workouts can help the body heal and regenerate tissues, protecting from injuries and enabling optimum performance.
To best gauge when and how long to rest, it’s important to listen to the body. One should stop exercising when exhaustion hits while having sufficient energy to continue. Experts suggest scheduling rest days as part of the workout to optimize performance. They also recommend splitting up workouts for various muscle groups to give sufficient time for each muscle group to recover. For instance, one day could be dedicated exclusively to the shoulders, one day to the legs, and the next day to the biceps, so the specific target muscle has at least 48 hours to recover.
5) Not Preparing one’s Physical Space
Much like how gym owners ensure their gyms are conducive for workouts, people engaging in virtual workouts too must make sure their surroundings are suitable for exercising. This means decluttering their environment to eliminate any physical objects that could come in the way and turning off gadgets that aren’t being used while working out. It’s also helpful to disable notifications on the gadget being used to stream the workout.
Additionally, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear for specific workouts is equally important too. Of all things, clothing certainly shouldn’t impede one’s ability to get the most out of their workout.
6) Opting for the Wrong Trainer
With social media full of influencers claiming to be fitness experts, it’s often hard to gauge if a person is qualified and skilled enough to handle the varying needs of online workout participants. This is especially the case with influencers who have strong marketing teams but don’t possess the necessary fitness training.
So, while attempting to find a suitable instructor online, the first thing one must do is verify if the trainer chosen has a relevant certification to their name. This helps establish that the trainer is qualified. However, since certifications don’t always guarantee a good instructor, looking through existing workout videos and attending any free trial classes can help participants understand an instructor’s capabilities better.
While exercising at home is certainly more convenient than going to a gym, it’s important to steer clear of these common online workout mistakes to prevent injury. It’s a good idea to consult with a trainer first before beginning any of their workouts. This helps both parties understand one another before getting started. If it’s feasible, hiring a personal fitness instructor to train one in the same physical space could also work well before beginning online workouts.
Dennis Wesley is an independent researcher. He usually writes about sustainability, physical and mental health, wildlife, and academia. You can follow his personal blog here.