- Not warming up
- Not cooling down
- Poor form and technique
- Not increasing your challenges
- Partial repetitions
Not Warming Up By hitting your exercise cold without limbering up your muscles you are setting yourself up for injury and poor results from your exercise time. Don’t cheat yourself, you’ve motivated yourself to attend, have enough respect for your body to treat it to a correct warm up. If you’re stuck for ideas, or don’t have a group fitness instructor or PT, try these; shoulder/ arm circles, lunges, jumping rope, jumping jacks, squats, walking, jogging, quad stretches, hamstring stretches, ankle/wrist rotations. There are SO many things to choose from, give yourself at least 3-5 minutes.
Not Cooling Down This is just as bad as not warming up, and sometimes does more damage! During exercise our heart pumps blood at an accelerated rate. When you stop exercising abruptly, your muscles will stop contracting suddenly. It is important to return your heart rate close to its resting rate to avoid dizziness or fainting. (To stop exercise abruptly without a cool down is like slamming your car brakes on and throwing your car in park at 70kms per hour, not too good for the car!) Lactic acid builds in your system during exercise, cooling down helps to remove it and avoid post-workout crashes. DOMS, delayed onset muslce soreness, can be reduced or eliminated by cooling down and stretching our muscles adequately.
Poor Form & Technique My absolute #1 pet peeve. We all have to start somewhere, and nobody is expecting beginners to have on point form and technique. That said, it is definitely about education and making sure you are perfoming exercises with the correct form and technique. If you are at a gym and are unsure about how to do a particular exercise, ASK! Please don’t be shy in this respect, nobody will look down on you for asking for the correct form and technique! Please listen to your instructors, as more often than not, the instructor is repeatedly telling a group class the correct form and technique and showing the class what not to do and many peope are not listening! Listen. Learn. It’s that easy. Group instructors and personal trainers have studied form and technique and should be able to help you out and give advice (or find an unknown answer for you). It is critical to your workout success, your long term goals, and your injury prevention strategy to ensure you learn and adapt to correct form and technique. I would argue that you are better off going for a walk, than performing any exercises with incorrect form and technique consistently. Talking about walking, this also comes with a correct form and technique!!
Not Increasing Your Challenges Attending a weight class consistently? Sticking with same low to medium weight range week after week? Why? Are you wanting to improve? Are you wanting to gain strength? Build muscle? Lose weight? Increase metabolism? Then… Increase your weight selection gradually each week. A regular in an aerobic based class? Repeatedly completing 10 burpees, 10 sit ups, 10 push ups as a set? Why? Why aren’t you increasing your goal? 15, then 20, then so on…Next thing, you’re a machine pumping out 100 of each, no sweat. Running 5 kms per week, week after week? Maybe try adding an extra kilometre per week or month etc. When we set goals and meet them, we need to challenge ourselves to the next goal, this is how we improve.
Partial Repetitons 10 half squats or 5 full squats? Choose 5 full squats. 10 half bicep curls of 5 full bicep curls? Choose 5 full bicep curls. 20 fast paced half depth push ups or 10 slower paced full depth push ups? Yep, 10 slower full depth push ups. This, again, is a very simple philosophy, quality over quantity. You will gain way more from doing half the amount of repetitions properly and to their full extension, than not.
Q: What do these 5 common mistakes in the gym have in common?
A: Trying to cut corners. Trying to make your workout easier. Trying to avoid maximum exertion. Trying to buy time. Trying to get it over with as quickly as possible. Trying to avoid pain. No pain. No gain. You have motivated yourself enough to get to the gym, it is so important not to let yourself down through these 5 common mistakes. Ironically, it takes no less time to cut corners than to apply yourself 100%.