The Top 8 Things You’re (Probably) Doing Wrong at the Gym


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The gym can be a great place to work out, but has it ever occurred to you that you might not be doing everything the “right” way? The key to productivity in the gym is to understand the environment. This includes knowing how to use the equipment and how to create a winning work out strategy. Just like anything, there is a right and wrong way to do something. In order to achieve maximum results and avoid injuries, consider the following areas that you might be overstepping at the gym.

1. Staying in the Same Routine

Putting the gym into your daily routine is great, but you shouldn’t do the same movements and workout routine all week long. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout, mix it up with cardio, strength training, and stretching to maximize your progress. Don’t become glued to the same treadmill. Experiment with different activities that the gym offers. Push yourself to get out of your physical comfort zone and try something new like a Zumba class, cycling, or kettlebell class. Changing it upwill not only keep you motivated, but the muscle confusion will influence your body to produce well-rounded physical results.

2. Useless Warm-ups and Forgetful Stretching
You probably hear this all of the time, “Don’t forget to stretch before you start!” This may be true, but there is a time and place to touch your toes. Instead, you should focus on a combination of dynamic stretching before your workout and static stretching after your workout. Dynamic stretching means you are actively moving as you stretch and is best used for aerobic workouts such as running, basketball, cycling, even gymnastics! Examples of dynamic stretching are walking lunges, jumping jacks and butt kickers.

At the end of your workout, in order to recover and increase flexibility in your muscles, perform a series of static stretches. Static stretches are stretches that you do when your body is at rest. Some examples of static stretches are touching your toes, shoulder stretches (pulling your arm across the body) and any other stretch that you do while sitting or standing still.

3. Not Setting a Timer
The gym is a place to workout, but it can be distracting. During the two hours you were at the gym, how much of that time was spent burning calories? It is helpful to set a timer to make sure that your chitchatting doesn’t cut into your workout routine. Every time you stop and talk, stop the timer. Once you stop talking, focus your attention on continuing your workout.

A stopwatch is also a great tool if you incorporate interval training into your workout. Research shows that high intensity interval training (HIIT) has a plethora of fitness benefits such as burns calories longer, can boost endurance and is great for heart health.

4. Lifting Too Heavy
It’s not about how much you can lift; it’s about using good form as you lift. Lifting too much, too fast can pull a muscle, or even injure you. If you’re struggling to lift the weight, there is no harm in lowering it. As you get stronger, you will be able to increase the weight allowing you to hit new personal records. Or, if you are unsure the correct way to lift, seek professional help from a personal trainer. Their job is to ensure you are getting the most out of your exercise experience, and that you are not harming yourself in the process.

Also, lifting more weight does mean equal building more muscle. You need to set realistic expectations for yourself. If your goal is to lift heavy weight, then that is something to work towards. Try setting short-term goals. Research states that a good starting point is to participate in three workouts per week in order to gain a kilogram or two of muscle.

5. Starting and Stopping
Working out is a lifestyle! Being consistent with your workout routine is extremely important to produce long-term results. Try setting realistic short-term goals to help you stay motivated or mix up your workout routine to avoid burnout.

Over time our bodies adapt to our routines and can’t work under the same strain for too long. It is best to commit to a program for 6 to 8 weeks and then change it up.

6. Using Equipment Wrong
If you don’t know how a machine works, don’t feel too intimidated to ask questions. Use the examples on the machines as a guide. If you still don’t understand fully how to use the machine ask the people around you, watch a video online, or better yet, go to the front desk and request a trainer to give you a tour and review of the facility equipment. The professional guidance by the employees at the gym will help you perfect your form and avoid injury.

7. Staying Too Long
Long gone are the days of working out for hours on end to see results. If you work hard and smart during your workout, you can achieve the same, if not even better results in a shorter amount of time. As we mentioned above, HIIT activities can cut your workout in half due to the alternating bursts of intense aerobic exercise. Ideally, you could achieve a result driven workout completing 12 minutes of HIIT.  

8. Going Too Often
Going to the gym too often can create a mundane atmosphere. Because exercise is a stimulus, your muscles activate and fatigue naturally. As a final step, you should integrate rest days into your workout routine to allow your body to absorb the benefits of all your hard work.

Getting yourself to the gym is half the battle. But there are other important responsibilities that go into having a gym membership and actually seeing results. You must understand how the equipment works, use the right form, be consistent in your efforts, change up your routine when you progress, lift the right amount of weight for your body type, and use your time wisely in order to achieve maximum results.

Contributed By: Jamé Heskett M.D. fights the aging process both inside and out. As a wife, a mother of three children, Dr. Heskett has spent her 24 year career focused on women’s health and longevity issues. She intimately understands the needs of women in their pursuit of well-being and preservation of youthful vitality. Today’s woman is looking for health and beauty solutions that are gentle, highly effective, have minimal downtime, and natural results. Through the most advanced proven technologies and 20 years of experience, Dr. Heskett is able to provide her clientele a comprehensive strategy or “Path” to suit their individual needs.

More readings: 

17 Most Common Fitness Injuries and How to Prevent Them

It’s Your First Day at the Gym: Here’s What to Do

Don’t Ever Do These 16 Things Before Working Out