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7 Rookie Workout Mistakes to Avoid

Scared to try a new activity? Don't be. Our fixes for common rookie mistakes will help you roll with the punches and look like a pro from the get-go.

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Jay Sullivan
woman running a half-marathon
Laura Doss
Karen Pearson
Karen Pearson
Karen Pearson
Laura Doss
Fuse/Getty Images
Denise Crew
Karen Pearson
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Kickboxing

Rookie mistake: Trying for a TKO

What the pros know: It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a fast-paced class and start jabbing and hooking like crazy. But punching too hard without a solid target can lead to injury. "Boxing technique is not about power alone. It's about form, style, balance, speed and control as well. You'll develop power as you progress and work the heavy bags and targets," says Marcus DeValentino, a cardio kickboxing instructor in Aiea, Hawaii. To keep your muscles loose and nip the "death-grip clenched fist" in the bud, try DeValentino's tip: Concentrate on keeping your pinky finger relaxed when you punch, and let your shoulders bounce while you move.

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Running

Rookie mistake: Too much treadmill training

What the pros know: No matter how crazy your work schedule or how nasty the weather, try not to log all your miles at the gym. "Running outside is more challenging because you have to propel yourself forward. Plus, it's a good idea to mentally and physically prepare yourself for a race," says Jenny Hadfield, a running coach in Chicago and coauthor of Running for Mortals. Signing up for your first 5K? Find out if the course is hilly or flat, winding or straight, and do at least a workout or two on this type of terrain each week. If possible, run the actual course.

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Yoga

Rookie mistake: Thinking all downward dogs are equal

What the pros know: We get it: You can't take another minute of meditation or 10 more chaturangas. Fortunately there are dozens of kinds of yoga. How to choose? "If you're a type A and strong willed, you'll probably be drawn to hard-core power yoga, but trying other styles that make you slow down may be beneficial," says Mia Togo, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles. Use this cheat sheet as you try a few styles and teachers on for size.

Vinyasa flow synchronizes breath with movement in a fluid, rhythmic pace.

Power yoga is a fitness-based practice full of poses that build strength.

Iyengar is more static. Props are used to find precise alignment, and you hold poses longer.

Hatha is all about breathing and meditation to calm the mind and body.

Bikram is a series of 26 poses performed in a 105-degree room for ultimate muscle flexibility.

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Tennis

Rookie mistake: Wearing running shoes

What the pros know: Think you can hit the court in any old sneakers? Wrong. Tennis shoes are designed specifically for the sport of -- you guessed it -- tennis; they support your ankles during the sudden twists, turns and side-to-side movements that the game entails. "Running shoes are intended for only forward and backward motions, so if you wear them on the tennis court, you can very easily turn an ankle," says Bunny Bruning, a U.S. Professional Tennis Association tennis pro in Des Moines.

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Hiking

Rookie mistake: Packing too light

What the pros know: Even if you're doing just a day hike, you still need to take supplies, says personal trainer Courtenay Schurman, coauthor of The Outdoor Athlete. Here are the must-haves.

Salty snacks: "I recommend bringing 100 to 150 calories for each mile," Schurman says. Foods that will replenish the sodium and other electrolytes you sweat out are key, so pack salted nuts, dried fruit, trail mix and jerky or cheese.

Plenty of water: You need to drink at least eight ounces every 45 minutes; if you wait until thirst hits, you're already dehydrated. If you want to carry less, bring a water filter or iodine tablets to purify your water.

Lots of layers: Wear or bring a sports bra, a wool short-sleeve shirt, a moisture-wicking long-sleeved layer, a fleece or down insulating layer, and a wind breaker or rain-repellent jacket. They'll come in handy if your hike lasts longer than expected; once you're in the forest and out of direct sunlight, the temperature drops quickly.

Emergency kit: Stay safe with these necessities: a map, a compass or GPS for navigation, sunglasses and sunscreen, a headlamp or flashlight, a first-aid kit, a repair kit, a tent or large garbage bag for shelter, and matches or a lighter.

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Swimming

Rookie mistake: Assuming that no impact means "easy"

What the pros know: Swimming may be easy on your bones and joints, but it's not a wimpy workout. In fact, you're engaging muscles you may not have used in a while -- or ever. That's why so many pool newbies overdo their first practice and throw in the towel when they're sore the next day. It's important to set a realistic goal for your initial workout. "Plan to swim just 10 laps," says Joel M. Stager, PhD, director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University Bloomington. "Eventually work up to 15. Once you've accomplished that, add a time element. For example, swim as many laps as you can in 20 minutes, then try to do the same number of laps the next day in just 19." Stick to freestyle, which is the most basic stroke.

Try this for a more structured swimming routine

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Spinning

Rookie mistake: Not setting up the bike properly

What the pros know: An incorrect setup could wreck your ride, so arrive 10 minutes before class to ask the instructor for help. "Many students are too shy, which is a huge mistake, because you might hurt yourself or feel uncomfortable," says Jennie Santos, a Spinning instructor in Los Angeles. Then, remember these basics so you can DIY next time:

Step 1: Adjust the seat height so you can rotate the pedals with a 25- to 30-degree bend in the knee. Align the ball of the foot over the center of the pedal.

Step 2: Check that your knees are directly over the center of the pedal (if they're not, adjust your seat forward or back).

Step 3: Make sure the handlebars are high enough for you to sit up straight without straining your neck or back.

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6 Newbie Faux Pas You Do Not Need to Make

Read now; thank us later.

1. Do not expect makeup to stay where you put it while you work out.

2. Avoid lap swimming in a string bikini. Just trust us on this one.

3. If you're self-conscious, steer clear of the spot where everyone else in your class is already staring (for example, right in front of the mirror).

4. Boxing? Do not make references to Rocky or Adrian. You will only date yourself. (If you have no idea who Rocky or Adrian are, this does not apply to you.)

5. If it's spicy or creamy, skip it on race-day morning.

6. Think twice before donning that lingerie-inspired outfit for your first tennis lesson. Leave the on-the-court fashion risks to Serena.

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Go from Rookie to Regular

You've done the hardest part: signed up for the 5K or pedaled through your first Spinning class. Now keep it up! We got stick-with-it strategies from fitness gurus who know a thing or two about motivating exercise newbies: Bob Harper and Cara Castronuova, a current and a former trainer, respectively, on The Biggest Loser.

Pay it forward. Want to become a dedicated down­ward dogger? "Purchase a package of yoga classes," Castronuova suggests. "You're more likely to go because you don't want to waste the money."

Find strength in numbers. As soon as you begin a new activity, find a high-energy group of friends or coworkers to enjoy it with. Taking up tennis? Plan once-a-week volley sessions. "Setting this up early will help you later, when the rush from starting something new dies down and you're feeling less motivated," Harper says.

Jot a note to self. Stick a motivating message on your computer at work or bathroom mirror at home. Even something as simple as "You can do it!" will give you a kick in the butt when you're thinking of skipping Spinning class, Castronuova says.

Set goals. Registering for a race or triathlon is a great way to keep yourself gung ho. But be realistic, Harper warns. If you're in the final month of your half-marathon training and way behind on mileage, don't risk injury by forcing yourself to compete. "Listen to your body. It's not the end of the world if you're not ready; just sign up for a later race," he suggests.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2011.

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dcwnlw wrote:

to see all the slides click on the printer along the top bar, then on print all slides. It will bring up all the slides on one page, then print if you want or exit if you don't

1/24/2012 01:31:03 PM Report Abuse
Jackstermt wrote:

I hate the slideshows that require you to turn 10 pages, I wish this info could be on one or two pages at most.

12/26/2011 08:45:33 PM Report Abuse

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