8 Common Mistakes to Be Avoided at the Gym
For a lot of people, just putting on that workout gear and physically going to the gym is half the battle; after all, every person comes with their own laundry list of obligations competing for their time. That being said, once you’re at the gym, you’ll want to be sure you’re making the most of your time there by avoiding some of these common mistakes.
1. Not Warming Up or Cooling Down
A proper warmup will prime your body for what’s to come. It’s meant to get the blood flowing and warm the muscles, making your body ready to take on exercise and help prevent injury. When you warm up properly, this will help you perform better, whether you are doing cardio or weights. When you skip the stretch after a workout, those muscles that were just working so hard can tighten up, increasing your risk of experiencing an injury. For serious athletes and marathoners, cooling down is even more essential since it helps regulate blood flow throughout the body, bringing it back to a balanced state without overtaxing the heart.
2. Letting Yourself Get Distracted
With all the technology we carry around these days, it’s far too easy to let our focus get pulled away for an incoming text, to check social media, or to choose just the right song to listen to. Abruptly stopping for too long in the middle of a workout – when your body is primed, heart rate is elevated, blood is pumping to deliver necessary nutrients to those muscles you had been working – is never a good thing for the same reasons you want to include a proper cooldown. A proper cooldown avoids putting undue strain on the heart in regulating blood flow.
3. Not Consulting a Physiologist/Trainer/Doctor
Surely we’re here for a reason! Particularly if you’ve never set foot in a gym, or have been on an extended hiatus from exercise, it’s best to consult with an exercise physiologist before diving headfirst into exercise to make sure you’re doing things safely and effectively, using proper form, and maximizing your time. Keep in mind: if you’ve been away from exercise due to illness or injury, it’s a good idea to consult with your physician as well. Make use of the trained professionals available to you to assess whether you’ve healed properly, and recommend the right movements to help you towards your goals without aggravating any existing conditions.
While the body is made to move, too much gym time can lead to burnout or injury. It can be healthy to move every day, but be sure to vary exercise intensity in order to give your body the rest it needs.
5. Lacking variety
The body is very smart: in order to avoid plateaus, we have to keep our bodies guessing by switching up workouts occasionally. Aside from seeing better results through varied workouts, you’re also less likely to get bored from doing the same things.
6. Not Planning Ahead
Put some thought into your weekly workout plan, whether that’s marking down how/when you’ll be doing strength or cardio at the gym, or deciding which days might be better to wind down with some yoga or take a nice walk outside. Having a plan of action set in mind – and better still, actually written down on your calendar – will help you prioritize that self-care time and better your chances of following through.
7. Expecting Instant Results
Fitness is a process, and it takes time and effort to really see the results of that work. Expecting immediate results can sabotage even the most well-intentioned of goals. Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged quickly.
8. Comparing Yourself to Others
Looking to others as a source of inspiration can be great, but social comparison can be self-defeating, and often discouraging. Remember that everyone – including you – is on their ownjourney, in fitness or otherwise, and that is not expected to look the same across the board. Focus on the changes you see in yourself, and give yourself some credit for the work you put in to make it happen.
– Evelyn O., Exercise Physiologist at Dedham Health & Athletic Complex