I will argue that most exercisers, even the most dedicated and hardworking fitness enthusiasts fail to ask a simple question before they commence an exercise program, an individual exercise, or a general mode of exercise.
That question is this: What is my objective?
The answer to this question delineates what type of exercise to perform and HOW to perform it. Everything starts with this question. The reality is most people exercise because they simply understand that exercise is good for them; but they fail to dig a little bit deeper. Answers to "What is my objective?" might include: prevent injury, increase lean muscle tissue, increase bone mineral density, reduce body fat, improve running speed, etc. Whatever the answer, exercise should be performed in accordance with that stated objective. And here is the key: Your objective shouldn't be to get better at exercise. Stated otherwise, your objective shouldn't be to raise a weight from point A to point B. We don't receive credit for how much weight we lift, how many times we lift it, or how many times our chin elevates above the pull-up bar. Exercise is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Some critical examination and contemplation of this question will change the way you exercise forever (and dramatically improve your results). My observation over the last 18 years is this: (1) Most people never ask the question and (2) most people's objectives are not linked to the type of exercise they perform.