4 ways you are wasting your time at the gym!

Fitness advice, gym advice, workout tips
Images via iStock

Stop doing these 4 major points that ruin your workout results. We’re living in an age where time and results are some of our most valued and sought after commodities. So if your time is precious and results are a “must have” then make sure you’re not making these common mistakes that can leave your results on the gym floor (most likely the same place where you should’ve left puddles of sweat instead).

Fitness advice, gym advice, workout tips

Focusing 80% of your time on the things that will only give you 20% of your results

I’m a huge advocate of the 80/20 rule. The rule basically states that 80% of the results you get will come from 20% of the things you do. I see far too many people focusing the majority of their time on the “fluffy stuff” – things like tricep kickbacks, shoulder raises and crunches. These things certainly have a time and place in your workout program- but that place is in the backseat, not the drivers.

Tip: Focus more on the big multi-joint compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, lunges, pull-ups, presses and plank variations. These exercises will work more muscle, burn more calories and strip more fat.

Fitness advice, gym advice, workout tips

Overdoing low Cardio

Since we’re all about saving time and improving results we need to put that slow boring cardio on the back-burner. Again, there’s a time and a place for everything, but this should take a seat next to your isolation exercises (i.e. in the back). We now know that although previous studies were correct in stating that long duration lower intensity exercise burns a higher proportion of “fat calories” compared with higher intensity exercise, what they failed to measure was excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC, informally called the after-burn effect). To put it simply, when you stop low intensity exercise, so does the calorie burn; high-intensity exercise on the other hand can increase your metabolism for 24-48 hours after the workout meaning the total number of calories burnt will be much higher.

Tip: Aim to do a short high-intensity circuit or Tabata for 5-15 minutes before you do your low intensity longer duration training. This helps break up stubborn fat, which then pours into the blood stream to be better utilised and burnt off by the low-intensity exercise.

Fitness advice, gym advice, workout tips

Not lifting heavy enough

I know, I know, you don’t want to get “bulky”, I promise you, you won’t. There’s a whirlwind of posts about women lifting heavy weights and I agree, well – kind of. I agree that women should lift heavy weights, the heavier the better in my opinion, but only if you have the time and commitment to develop the mobility, stability and tissue tolerance to safely lift those weights. But that stuff takes up “time”. So, for the majority of women who just want to look and feel better in their bodies, just focus on challenging your muscles to lift heavier weights each session – because if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

Tip: So the next time you’re lifting weights, I want you to ask yourself this question at the end of each set, “Could I have done more”? If the answer is yes, lift heavier. If you were aiming for 15 and you could have done 20, you’re kidding yourself – lift heavier. It’s far better to fail at 14 than it is to get through your 3 sets of 15 without breaking a sweat.

Fitness advice, gym advice, workout tips

Not getting enough rest

I am sure we’ve all fallen into the trap of thinking that if doing “something” is good, then with all things being equal “more” would have to be better, right? Wrong! We’re amazingly designed creatures and our bodies (and minds) have an inherent ability to learn and develop. But when it comes to optimal results in the gym – we need make sure we adhere to a specific cycle:

Step 1. Stress a.k.a. “The Workout”

Step 2. Fatigue a.k.a. “Post Workout”

Step 3. Recovery a.k.a. “Resting Between Workouts”

Step 4. Overcompensation a.k.a “Your body being it’s awesome self and developing fitter and stronger so that we can be achieve more next time”

I’m seeing more and more women coming to me these days from other trainers because they have plateaued in their results. When I ask them about their training, I often hear the same story that their programs have no rest days or de-load weeks planned in. They’re just smashing their body, day in, day out. You need to remember that the most important number in the cycle is #3. Recovery allows enough time for the magic of overcompensation to happen. If you don’t allow enough time then you’ll actually start to get slower, weaker and less awesome.

Tip: Try breaking strength or high-intensity training sessions up with yoga, meditation or a long Sunday walk to help restore some balance.

So with all this being said, I think it’s a great start for you to now know what to avoid and what to improve on in your next training session.

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James Anderson
James Anderson is the Founder & Director of PHAT Solutions, a women's only group training business located in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, which focuses on strength, conditioning and yoga training. With a true passion for education and empowerment, James' aim is to guide women towards stronger, leaner, fitter, healthier and ultimately happier versions of themselves using health, not hype. James has combined his background in personal training and NLP coaching, with a couple of near death experiences to develop a very unique outlook on life. As a result he speaks, presents and writes no B.S content in the hope that he can help others find their long-term personal health and happiness solution.