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Ten Biggest Workout Wreckers

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), 10 big mistakes many people make while exercising at the gym can wreck their workout and lead to injury and pain. These workout wreckers are easy to make, but even easier to avoid.

Not stretching enough. Don't try to save time by skipping the stretch portion of our workout and don't stretch at the wrong time - before exercise instead of after.  ACE says we should stretch immediately following an aerobic activity while muscles are warm and pliable to prevent injuries. If you're running short on time, stretch the muscles involved in your aerobic activity (like your legs after jogging) and save the upper body stretch for another workout.

Lifting too much weight. Don't overestimate what you can lift.  You can't shortcut strength training by lifting too much at a time.  If you lift more than you can handle, you can cause your bones, muscles and ligaments serious damage. ACE says gradual, progressive resistance is a more effective and safe way to increase muscle strength.

Not warming up prior to activity. Starting your workout at full throttle instead of easing into your aerobic exercise can put your muscles and ligaments at risk for overuse injury. Instead, ACE advises you start slowly and gradually increase intensity.

Not cooling down after a workout. The same goes for the cool down portion of your workout.  ACE recommends taking a few minutes to lower your heart rate and stretch to improve flexibility and prepare your muscles for your next workout.

Exercising too intensely. Don't push so hard. It's more effective to sustain a moderate workout for longer periods of time than to exercise intensely for only a few minutes.  Interval training may be the best way to burn fat and maximize your workout though.  Try a few minutes of high intensity followed by a few minutes of moderate intensity and repeat for 20 to 30 minutes.

Not drinking enough water. If you wait until you're thirsty, you're already getting dehydrated.  Drink water before, during and after your workout and throughout your day.

Leaning heavily on a stairstepper. When you're working at too high an intensity, you'll keep your balance by leaning on the arm rails.  This can wreck your workout, wrists and back.  ACE recommends lowering the intensity until you can maintain good posture while resting your hands lightly on the rails.

Not exercising intensely enough. Don't take it too easy.  Work out hard enough to get a little sweaty and increase your heart rate to your training zone.

Jerking while lifting weights. The proper technique for lifting weights involves smooth control.  Jerking causes strain and injury, especially to back muscles.  ACE says: Control the weight; don't let it control you.

Consuming energy bars and sports drinks during moderate workouts. Just because the label says "sport" doesn't mean it's good for you.  These high-calorie "energy" drinks and bars can wreck your workout by adding more calories than you burn.  If you're working out more than two hours per day, supplement your calories and electrolytes with a sports drink. Otherwise, stick to water and a healthy diet.