If you’ve recently joined or re-joined the gym, you’re probably feeling motivated and ready to start working on your new body. This is a great mindframe to be in, but if you dive straight in then you could end up forming some bad habits that will hinder your progress. We’ve outlined some of the key mistakes people make at the gym so you can get your fitness mission off to the best start possible.
- Don’t Set Unrealistic Goals
Of course you’re going to want to start seeing results and lifting heavy straight away, but that’s just a sure fire way to cause an injury and also de-motivate yourself. Setting yourself some goals for the gym is a great way to keep focused, so keep yours realistic and basic to start off with. A kilogram or two of weight gain (or loss if that’s your goal) accompanied by a steady increase in reps or weights are great goals to begin with. Seek the advice of a PT if you’re unsure what is a realistic expectation for your current body type and fitness levels.
- Don’t Waste Your Warm-Up
Warm ups are there to prepare the muscles you intend to work out so as to avoid over-straining or injuring them. It’s therefore important that you’re warming up the correct muscles for that work out. This means that if you’re training your chest one day, a 5 or 10 minute session on the bike isn’t going to be effective, even if it gets your heart pumping. Running is a great all-round warm up because so many muscle groups are worked, but focus on warming the right muscles up.
- Don’t Become Reliant on the Machines
There are loads of great weights machines at the gym, from the leg press to the cable machine, that help you get used to weight training. However, people who use only the weight machines can soon see their progress begin to slow. Incorporating free weights into your workout is essential, as they force you to include other skills such as balance and core strength. This in turn helps you to work more muscle groups in each exercise than you would if the machine was doing a bulk of the work for you.
- Don’t Put All of Your Focus on Reps
When you begin a set, it can be too easy to focus solely on the number of reps you’ve assigned yourself and think only about getting to the end of them. This can mean that you stop thinking about your form, or whether you’re getting the full ROM (range of movement) from an exercise. For example, there’s little point completing a set of 16 squats if they were completed too quickly, with bad form and if you didn’t go as low as you were meant to. Focus on the quality of the movement first, and ensure you’re getting the quantity right as a secondary concern.
- Don’t Stick to One Routine
Your muscles quickly become accustomed to repeated exercises, which is why workouts start to get easier the more that you do them. It can be tempting to coast along doing the same workout, basking in the pleasure of how easy you find it now your fitness has improved. However, you’ll soon plateau if you stop pushing yourself. You need to shake up your routine regularly to avoid it ever being ‘easy’. This doesn’t just mean increasing your weights or reps; you also need to target different muscle groups and include a mix of cardio and weights.
Now you know what you DON’T want to be doing at the gym, stay tuned for more posts on what you DO need to do.