Whether it is a "diet" or a new exercise routine, the most effective plans are lifestyle changes which are sustainable. Many well-intentioned gym-goers burn out quickly because they do not build their plan on a solid foundation. Learn the key principles for building a safe and effective exercise routine that will last a lifetime.
Pitfall #1: You only set short-term goals.
It's a matter of perspective: The goal is not to lose 10 pounds before your trip to Cabo, but to be the person who never misses a work out. By changing your mindset to one of long-term goals, you will inadvertently reap rewards in the short-term. For example, instead of sacrificing everything to training for next month's 5k race, make it your focus to be faster next year than you are today, and faster two years from now than you will be next year.
Key Principle: See fitness as long-term.
Pitfall #2: You hit the ground running, but fade out quickly.
When you first commit to exercising, your zeal can fool you into biting off more than you can chew. This will lead to discouragement and/or injury. When beginning an exercise regimen, it is best to start slowly to build a foundation of strength before you start pushing your limits. The first few weeks may seem too easy; however, you need to build this base-level of fitness so when you do push yourself, you can handle the added intensity.
Key Principle: Train for volume before intensity.
Pitfall #3: You don't mix up your workouts.
Workout boredom and plateau have signaled the end of a great many exercise routines. By constantly challenging yourself and changing your workouts (even if it's just slightly) you'll create an environment to maintain constant progression. To see different results, you have to do something different: maybe add a few pounds to the barbell you're curling, do planks instead of crunches, or try a cycle class instead of running on the treadmill.
Key Principle: Aim for slow progress and small changes each week.