We’ve all heard that “90% of success is just showing up”, however that adage doesn’t always hold true when it comes to the gym. While fitting gym time into your hectic schedule is often a tiny miracle in itself, you need to make sure that you are spending your time wisely while you’re there.
We asked fitness professionals about the top mistakes made at the gym, and according to them, there are many. Some are fairly obvious, but other mistakes you may be committing without even realizing. Read on to find out the top 20 gym no-no’s that could be holding you back from your fitness goals!
Lack of focus on movement quality: Sometimes it is easy to want to speed through all of your reps or quickly perform a move; however, this kind of sloppiness won’t help you. According to Darrick Truong, head trainer at Fitwall La Jolla, movement quality can be more important than movement quantity. So remember to take your time and focus on correct form and execution for each move.
Forgetting to stretch: Just like it can take a cup of coffee for you to get moving in the morning, your muscles need to be woken up before you start working out! Marcie Fyock, assistant professor at George Mason University, points out that forgetting to stretch before exercise is a big no-no that can lead to stress on the muscles as well as injuries.
Lack of resistance training: Workouts should always be varied, so don’t forget to add in some resistance training! According to Matt Fellows, director at Iron Works Elite Fitness, resistance training is a crucial element in any routine. Plus, there is much more variety with resistance training, so you won’t be stuck with the same moves over and over.
Using teeny, tiny weights: Those tiny pink weights are undeniably cute and girly, but they are simply a waste of time. Fellows suggests that less reps using larger weights is actually more effective than doing a ton of reps with your poweder-puff dumbbells. Many women shy away from weights out of fear of turning into Arnold Schwarzenegger, but in truth, heavier weight builds muscle faster, toning your body and raising your metabolism!
Not using full range of motion: Once again, it is important to remember that form and accuracy are crucial. According to Michael Spitzer, author of, “Fitness After 40,50,60 and Beyond”, doing a move half way will not lead to the results you’re after, and is in fact, a total waste of time.
Too much emphasis on machines: According to Kusha Kawandi, author of, “Nutriscribe” and creator of the Exerscribe app, women often spend too much time on machines such as treadmills or ellipticals. While they can serve a purpose, they can also be unchallenging, leading to frequent plateaus.
Doing too much too soon: So you’ve decided to start working out again, and you dive in head first, signing up for the, ‘Advanced CrossFit’ class. Bad Idea. Hooman Melamed, spine surgeon and director of scoliosis at Marine Del Ray Hospital, says that doing too much too soon can actually lead to injuries. While some soreness is normal after a good workout, if there is excessive pain, you may have pushed it too far.
Not treating existing injuries: So you did too much too soon, and scored an injury. Don’t make it worse by ignoring it! According to Fyock, treating injuries is crucial to your wellness and overall fitness, so get better before you begin working out again, or you could just make matters worse.
Stopping before you’ve done all of the reps: If you feel the burn, you’re doing something right! Mike Clancy, lifestyle coach and personal trainer, states that many women stop a move before all of the reps are complete. While we know that it’s tempting to skip those last couple of reps, unless there is extreme pain, keep going hard and finish strong.
Too much intensity: Sometimes you may feel like Superwoman who can take on any workout, but even then you need to proceed with caution. Truong suggests that you always be aware of your physical limits, and avoid barreling past them.
Improper Technique: So you’re taking your movements slowly and intentionally, but are you even doing it right? According to Truong, without proper form, the exercise is simply a waste of time and will not help you reach your goals. So research your workout well or even enlist some professional help but whatever you do, make sure you know what you’re doing before you even start.
Overworking yourself: It is always satisfying to complete a challenging workout, but keep in mind that you also need rest. While keeping your weight in check and living a healthy lifestyle is important, try not to cross that line between motivation and obsession.
Workouts that aren’t personalized: We are all unique individuals. Every body is different and so is every metabolism! For the best results, Truong suggests that exercise be tailored to each individual’s goals and preferences. Trying a ‘one size fits all’ type of workout may have worked for your best friend, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Wasting time: In this technology-obesessed world we live in, it can be easy to get wrapped up our phones, but once you hit the gym you need to turn it off! Simply being in the gym doesn’t count as working out, so make sure that you are making the most out of the time you have dedicated to it! Spitzer states that not only does texting and snap chatting friends cut into your workout time, it is also bad gym etiquette.
Lack of progressive overload: You may be training smart and easing into your new workout routine but unfortunately that’s not always enough. Truong states that there needs to be “progressive overload”, or a gradual increase in the amount of intensity in your workout, in order to be successful. Sticking with the same routine, reps or sets is a sure-fire way to hit a plateau.
Poor coaching: Perhaps you aren’t able to stay on track on your own, and you decide to hire a personal trainer for assistance. According to Truong, poor coaching is not only an expensive waste of your time, it could also be keeping you from reaching your goals. Research and interview trainers before you make a commitment, and if the fit isn’t right, move on ASAP.
Exercising too many days a week: According to Spitzer, rest is just as important to your success as exercise is. Always include 1-3 rest days a week to allow your body to recuperate and function properly.
Gripping handles too tightly: This is one small mistake that may have never crossed your mind; however, Melamed points out that clutching too tightly to the handles on the treadmill, elliptical or even your weights, can cause an unnatural torque in your back and lead to additional strain.
Lack of cardio variation: Cardio is an important factor in any successful workout, but like any exercise, it must be varied. Kawandi suggests that clients vary exercises in order to pump up their heart rate and keep their metabolism guessing. By doing something as simple as adding in a few intervals, you can actually burn more calories in much less time.
Too many fitness classes: Sure, fitness classes are a fun way to try out a new type of exercise, but eventually, you need to branch out. Classes usually maintain the same routine, so while attending that class every week might leave you with a few new friends, it’s not likely to lead to any progress. Kawandi said that becoming stagnant in your workout can cause major set backs, so make sure to switch up your routine from time-to-time.
Staying in shape is a struggle for everyone, and life can often make fitness a last priority. By following these tips, you can create a plan for yourself to stay on track and get the most from every workout!