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Habits and Lifestyle

7 Bad Habits of Exercising

6 min read

We had 7 Good Habits of Exercising, and now here is its sister article: 7 Bad Habits of Exercising. If you find yourself struggling to achieve your fitness-related goals, perhaps you suffer from one of these habits, and it’s time for a change.

1. Having “Bad” Days

Bad days are inevitable, and sometimes we have workout sessions where we don’t function at our best or even close to it – that’s OK. Sometimes we don’t follow our diet – that, too, is OK. And sometimes, we just fall off the wagon completely. All of these are OK.

However, what is not OK is when this becomes your operational norm. That is to say, instead of having a singular blimp of bad form in a myriad of good form, the bad form becomes prevalent or even emerges as constant patches intertwined with good streaks. Bad patches are not OK because you’re yo-yoing; you’re not on one consistent upward path, and if you observe deeper, chances are your “bad” days outnumber your good ones, meaning you’re arguably even regressing.

This is why having a series of bad days or patches of poor form are bad habits that need to be booted out of your behavioral pattern at once. When you notice this in your workouts, your diet, your attitude, or whatever, you need to take immediate action and do something to shake up the situation.

2. No Program

If you’re just beginning, like literally starting something for the first time ever, then this isn’t the worst crime to commit, but you need to quickly stop it. If you’ve been exercising for a while and you’ve never had a program or some kind of plan, then this has to stop at once.

A program or plan allows you to be organized, committed, and goal-orientated. Look at anyone who’s been successful in or out of the gym, chances are they had some kind of blueprint or vision as to what they were doing or where they were heading. You won’t see success without this so if this bad behavior of not planning speaks to you, get on top of things and get a program.

3. Too Much Focus on the Scale

We all have a goal in mind when we exercise and most of the time that goal is tied to our weight (e.g., get bigger or get slimmer), and, unfortunately, because of this, we tend to use the simplest tool within our arsenal to track our progress: the scale.

Please understand that there are multiple ways to measure progress and the scale is the crudest form to do this. If you want to measure progress you can: (1) measure and track your body parts with a tape measure, (2) track your exercise progression, (3) Get full-body check-ups at a gym or institute where they can measure your body composition in ways you couldn’t do on your own, (4) have a series of progress photos, or even (5) look in the mirror, yes this does work!

Just note that each method of tracking progress has its own unique pros and cons.

For myself, I track progression every 2-4 weeks; the second week is a light check-up to see if I should change any behaviors mid-progress, and the fourth week is the real progress check where I hope I’ve either gained/reduced (depending on my current goal) or at the very least I’m still at the same level as I was from the last progress check.

4. Playing it Safe

Say it with me: growth happens outside of our comfort zones. If you have a goal, whatever that goal is, you won’t achieve it while operating within your comfort zone. You might see some progress, but that progress will eventually stall and to break beyond that point is when you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone.

So, if you have a goal, understand there will be moments where you’ll have to be uncomfortable for that goal. The challenge with this comes with the understanding that discomfort shouldn’t make up the entire process, so you need to gauge for yourself whether the discomfort associated with your current goal is too much for you or within your threshold, and act from there. Understanding this is important because as individuals we all have different abilities and thresholds; just because someone else sees success in an endeavor it doesn’t necessarily mean that path is right for you, or that how they achieved their success will also work for you. Learn about yourself, and learn to do what’s best for you – this includes knowing when to push yourself past discomfort and knowing when to stop.

5. Doing Everything Alone

I’m guilty of this one myself, and this regards every facet of doing things alone: not asking for help, not being open about your goals and ambitions, not interacting with other people with similar interests, not delegating tasks when in a leadership role, and so on.

We’re not islands, and we need to stop behaving as if there’s weakness in seeking help, as if it’s criminally wrong to openly talk about your goals and ambitions (that people should only see things when you’ve finally achieved your goal), or as if others can’t be trusted to get a job done so we have to do it ourselves or micromanage them. Let’s relax, and open up to others. You’ll see that a lot of weight falls off your shoulders when you let people in.

And for those of us who like to do things alone, unfortunately, you’ll quickly learn that the more ambitious your goal or dream is, the more assistance you’ll need to achieve it.

6. Lacking a Reason “Why”

Being fit and healthy is not easy. It takes commitment, consistency, and will, and these temperaments fluctuate. We’re not at our best every day and life stuff happens every day that throws off our game for hours to months, even years.

During the hard times, having a reason “why” can make all the difference, because it helps put things into clarity: why are you putting yourself through discomfort, why are you bothering, why does this thing you do matter, and why should you continue?

7. Too Much Focus on the End-goal

Again, this is another one, I myself I’m guilty of, and I know a lot of other people probably are too. I can get so caught up in the end-goal that it starts to become toxic because that’s the only thing I’m thinking of.

For me, the end result matters more than the journey. I’ve had several conversations with peers about this where they feel I’m mistaken in my approach, but this is how I’m wired and it will never change. And frankly, I don’t think this is a bad thing. The thing is, being result-driven, always thinking about the end-goal, doesn’t mean I cannot, and should not, appreciate the journey that comes from having a goal, and for other people who are also result-driven, I implore you to also take some time out to enjoy the journey as you focus on that end-goal.

I think, what other people who criticize my way fail to understand is, just because I’m result-driven doesn’t mean every endeavor must be a successful one and without success the venture was a waste of time. No, it only means I have to be able to extrapolate value from the venture; whether that comes in the form of gaining something physical at the end or just gaining mental clarity about something, at least I got something that made the journey worthwhile. If the journey isn’t worth it, then why did I start it in the first place?


A writer, gamer, geek, and gym rat all packaged into one. I'm a certified personal trainer who writes about the things he loves and I enjoy sharing them with others all on MXFitness.