As a fitness trainer and coach I see people falling into a lot of bad habits at the gym.
Bad habits don’t optimize your potential for success, so I think it’s important to be aware of the traps people most often fall into, in order to making these mistakes yourself.
Here’s a list of the Top 5 bad habits I see in the gym.
TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
New exercisers tend to be overanxious and so often will lift too much too soon. This is a recipe for injury. I tell clients, “When lifting a weight, your muscles will tell you that it is too light – I need more weight! But it’s really your tendons and ligaments that need the lighter weight in the beginning of an exercise plan. Ligaments and tendons break down quicker and take more time to recover. So be progressive with strength training even though you can do more initially.”
FOCUSING SOLELY ON CARDIO
Cardiovascular exercise is an extremely important component of an exercise routine. It burns calories, boosts our mood and strengthens our most important muscle: the heart. But too many people spend the majority of their workout time performing relatively low-level cardiovascular exercise. I see this often and it seems that people use cardio exercises to make amends for poor eating habits and or over-consumption of foods. My clients that make the most improvement in muscle mass and body structure are the ones that combine moderate healthy eating with minimal cardio exercise and medium to high intensity weight training.
NOT FUELING RIGHT
Beginner exercisers may train for 3-8 hours a week with various intensities. But here’s the thing: There are 168 hours in the week. If you don’t put things together properly in the kitchen then you may get a little stronger yes- but it will not show on the scale! Guaranteed! You can’t outrun the nutrition piece.
The other day, I had someone call me and say they are so discouraged. They have been exercising and doing all kinds of cardio and strength classes for 5 weeks and have not lost one pound! I am always so sad when I hear this. And I hear this scenario often. With this particular lady, I put her on my 30 Days To Lean program and told her to only do exercise that made her feel good- no wild woman routines- just enjoy movement. In the first week, which is today, she lost 7 pounds and her husband lost 7 pounds as well! I am so happy for them. So the point is, if you are training to lose weight, know you will make the biggest impact in the kitchen.
COPYING OTHER GYM-GOERS
Blindly following what other people are doing is a mistake. You have no idea if the person you are watching is doing the exercise correctly unless they are doing it with a trainer. And even if they are with a trainer, there may be a reason they are doing a particular exercise. Because I have clients that I have been training for several years, they have acquired healthy backs and hips through the various progressions over the years I have them do. But if you have a weak back, various discs that are shot, and or spinal stenosis, and you do some of the exercises that you see my clients doing, you may end up damaging your spine further.
LIFTING TOO QUICKLY
Many people lift way too fast, not allowing for both the concentric and eccentric contractions, and instead, relying on momentum. When you do a bicep curl, for instance, the concentric phase is when you bend the elbow, but the eccentric phase is when you lower the weight. This should be done slowly for increased muscular strength. The momentum piece is when people go so fast, the weights are swinging, their body is rocking and they are using the momentum created to lift heavier. If they slow down, they will work the muscles more effectively. I like to tell my clients that my job is to slow them down. I mean it in two ways however. The first way is to create a better mindset for strength training. Many of us, and it probably goes back to that old style thinking we received from coaches in our early years, that we gotta play the part of “when you are in the gym- you better be exerting continuously.” Ironically when I slow clients down in the gym and make them laser focus on muscles they are engaging, not only does it make for a better experience, but it makes for a stronger body. And although you can’t see it, they are working that muscle like no other person including the moaners and groaners in the gym! And the second way I like to slow down my clients is between sets. It’s not always necessary to rush from one set to another. Stretching in between sets to nurse a tight back or stretch a calf muscle that seems a little strained is just smart!
All my best,
My Next 30 Days To Lean Program Begins in January.