At the gym, what you DON’T do is probably more important that what you DO do.
In a room full of heavy weights and potentially dangerous equipment, you’re more likely to hurt yourself than improve your health.
And that is why you go to the gym… To improve your health. If you’re there for any other reason, like to look cool or pick up women, then your chances of injury automatically increase by a ton.
These are the top mistakes to avoid in the gym:
1. Go to the gym for the right reason:
Like I said before, if you’re in the gym for any other reason than improving your health, you’ll likely get injured. Why is that? Because your focus needs to be on your body. You have to concentrate on your technique and the way your body feels. If you’re looking at the girl on the treadmill across the room, you might not notice the small pain in your shoulder which will develop into something worse over time. So when you see guys staring at themselves in the mirror, you might think they are narcissistic, but who cares, since they are focusing on their technique and you are distracted at looking at them. Even if you don’t get injured, you are limiting your potential by letting your mind wander. Instead of pushing your limits by doing an extra repetition, you’re thinking about who knows what. What a waste of talent! This can all be controlled by going to the gym for the right reason, with the right mindset.
2. Not warming up:
Seriously, who doesn’t warm up?! Well, a lot of people. And those people don’t last long in the gym. After a few gym sessions of not warming up, you might feel okay. But after weeks upon weeks of gym session accumulate, time the will come when you feel a sharp pain in your back, or your neck, or your shoulder, or even in all three. But simply, “warming up”, isn’t going to cut it. Warming up does not mean swinging your arms back and forth ten times. Warming up consists of three stages. One, brief cardio. Jog for five minutes. Heat up your body and get your blood pumping. Two, stretch. This prepares your muscles for pain and destruction, which is what working out essentially is. Without stretching, your body can get injured more easily and you will have a hard time recovering. Thirdly, light weights or intro to whatever exercise you are doing. In other words, if your are going to lift weights, then do an extremely lightweight set to before your actual set. If you’re going to play basketball, take some close range shots and do some light jumps. Perform the movements that you would do in the game, but extra light versions. This is what all the sports pros do. And you should too. Oh ya, nice rhyme.
3. Not drinking enough water:
This may sound like an overly basic tip… That’s because it is. And you’re still messing it up. When I see someone drinking an energy drink while in the weight room, it makes me nauseous. Sugar and caffeine is not a replacement for water. Those two ingredients are actually DEHYDRATING. Muscles are made up of approximately 80% water. You do the math… More water = more muscle. It’s simple. Drink water.
The following mistakes are equally as important to avoid if you want to improve your workout performance, and more importantly, avoid injury.
4. Not using your core:
When you do any exercise, whether it be weights, swimming, hockey, jogging or chess (wait a minute, not chess), you have to use your core. By “core” I mean stomach muscles and all the other little muscles that wrap around your middle body. Using your core is essential! When you don’t you miss the extra boost that your body has to give. You can boost your workout by an incredible amount if you can consciously practice using your core. When you are doing pull-ups, tighten your stomach muscles and try to lift yourself with your stomach. The same thing with bicep curls, jumps shots, swimming strokes, skiing, and everything else. It might sounds weird, or difficult to do, but when you’re actually in the middle of doing an exercise, you will know what it means to flex and use your core.
5. Too much time in the gym
Don’t be a gym rat. Not only does that sounds bad, but it is. A gym rat is the guy that not only works out every day, but also for several hours at a time. When you go to the gym in the morning, he is there. In the afternoon, he is there. It’s not a coincidence, he’s always there. That gym rat guy might have huge muscles, but he is not being efficient. You can achieve even better results by putting fewer hours into your routines. When you spend 10 minutes walking around and talking between activities, you’re losing energy that should be spend on exercise. After you complete one exercise, take a short break and move quickly into your next one. If you can do this routinely and spend only 45 minutes in the gym per session, you will notice your improvement quickly. You will be able to lift more weight and feel more energetic throughout the rest of the day.
6. Too much repetition
When you do the same weight lifting movements week after week, it will take a serious toll on your body. Your joints will start to ache and your results will be worse. It is extremely important to change your workout routine every few week. And definitely every month. But this is very difficult, I know. You feel comfortable doing certain movements. You know how to do them with good form and you know that they simply feel good. In this case, you should do something counter-intuitive. Something that doesn’t feel natural. Do new exercises that are more painful and more challenging.