Common Gym Mistakes

While we all have that moment where we realise we need to get back in the gym, what exactly we do when we get there can be more of a struggle to figure out.

We are constantly bombarded with dos, don’ts and conflicting information. This then leads to people harming their workout progress by following the wrong advice or coming up with their own ideas because of the lack of a general consensus.

Consequently, a lot of us are making the same mistakes when it comes to exercise. 

The first thing you have to sort out is the real purpose to your workout – don’t just do a squat because you’ve been told to or heard they are the “thing” to do. Ask yourself what is the purpose of doing the squat, feel what the muscles are doing as you perform the squat, brace your core, breath in on the way down and out on the way up.

Next, don’t just follow the crowd – if someone tells you that you should get in on the latest trend or fad or you tend to follow these trends/fads, you’re not doing yourself any favours as you will never improve your technique and form, as you will always be a beginner – a fitness jack-of-all-trades! If your body says it’s inflexible, don’t do HIIT – go do yoga. If you’re getting backache or feel weak in the core, do pilates not boxing!

Another common mistake is doing the same type of workout, same exercises, same order, same weights etc and wonder why results don’t show. It’s because your body adapts to what you are doing and goes ho hum and basically stops responding sufficiently. Change things up – do different exercises, change your weights up and down (less reps/more reps), tempo of the exercise (slow it down so that your muscles are under tension for longer).

Don’t focus too much on results (a bit like jumping on the scales everyday when trying to lose weight)! Learn to love/enjoy your exercise program so that you don’t become obsessed with the results or you will lose your drive.

Not stretching before exercising is another mistake. Stretching before exercising is absolutely fundamental to an effective and injury-free workout. Dynamic stretching prepares muscles for activity and prevents injury. Hip flexors are the most important area to stretch because we sit down all the time and glute activation is also important because it protects your knees from injury.

Most commercial gym goers don’t train nearly hard enough to get results – their sessions often lack passion and intensity. Workouts are living, dynamic things that need life breathing into them, you make your best progress and have the most fun when you attack your sessions with a burning, yet controlled, rage. There should be fire and brimstone tempered with a sense of fun and fulfilment.

Take yourself out of your comfort zone when you work out. Push yourself to a place that you've never been before. You should keep your workouts short and intense; after 60 minutes your intensity and drive will drop.

Other common mistakes made at the gym are:

·      Eating at the wrong time before and after working out

·      Measuring progress by sweat

·      Losing track of one’s progress

·      Neglecting smaller muscle groups

·      Not asking for help

So next time you’re at the gym ask yourself the hard why questions. Why am I really here? Why am I doing this particular exercise? Why am I not getting anywhere? Why do I feel weak and tired? The answer may be that you are doing one or more of the above common mistakes. Guess what? You’re not the only one – most people are doing one or more of these common mistakes, me included!

So get back into the gym and start changing things up, challenge yourself more and achieve results (big or small).