As a personal trainer and gym owner with over 17 years’ experience, I’ve seen every mistake imaginable at the gym. The thing is, when it comes to training and achieving fitness goals, continuing to make the same mistakes will have a big impact on your progress in the long run. So today, I’m here to take a look at the biggest mistakes people make at the gym and my quick simple fixes to overcome them.
Too many people think that just turning up to the gym is going to be enough, without actually knowing what they’re going to do before they get there. More often than not, in these instances, they end up wasting their time. My advice is to have a clear routine to follow, get a timer going and try to smash out your workout within that window. This will minimise any wasted time spent walking around trying to figure out what to do next.
I totally understand the temptation when you get to the gym to skip the warmup, jump straight into your routine and get it over and done with. The problem with this is that you’re not giving your body and mind the chance to prepare for the workout ahead and taking these few extra minutes can be crucial to helping prevent injury. Everyone warms up in different ways, but when warming up for a workout I like to adopt the SAM approach (stretch, activate, mobilise). This means making sure stretching is dynamic, activates your big muscle groups that are to be targeted and focuses on getting mobility through your body.
When it comes down to it, failing to nail your technique will do more than get in the way of your progress but can too easily lead to injury. When you perform an exercise incorrectly, you engage the wrong muscles and fail to get the right contraction because you’re not working through the full range of motion. I’m always saying if you’re going to do it, do it properly! And yes, for some of you impatient people this may mean slowing down. If in doubt, I always recommend jumping in front of a mirror so you can really keep an eye on perfecting your form.
Remember, when it comes to increasing strength or building lean muscle, there must always be some kind of progressive overload. Doing 3 sets of 10 on 50 kilos because that what you’ve always done will simply mean that’s where you’ll always be! So, if toning and shaping lean muscle is your aim of the game, don’t resist the resistance.
Too often, I see people who hit the gym everyday only to spend an hour walking on the treadmill. Don’t get me wrong, any type of exercise like this that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping is a good thing. However, if you’re looking to get leaner, fitter and stronger then doing the same repetitive movements day in, day out isn’t the best way to get there.
A big part of my training philosophy is variety, so try to incorporate some cardio and resistance training into your routine and mix it up each session. My final pieces of advice are these—the gym has plenty to offer so don’t be afraid to try something new and never be scared to ask for help. Remember, if you’re at a good gym then they should be able to give you good advice. If they don’t? Find another gym!
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