When it comes to your health, you can’t afford to make mistakes.
Follow this easy guide and you’ll be correcting the most common errors and become a gym genius.
Whether you are new to the gym or have been lifting for years, there may be some critical mistakes you’re making that are holding back your progress. We’re going to help you avoid negative decisions and break bad habits so that you can crush your workout and get the results you crave.
By following this advice and avoiding the following mistakes, you’ll be in peak shape and making sure you’re getting the most out of every workout. Rest assured, we’re here to guide you through common errors that occur in and out of the gym that may be setting you up for failure.
You Are Not Setting Goals
Before even entering the gym, it’s important that you set goals. Set specific goals that outline exactly what you want to achieve and get out of going to the gym. Making a broad, sweeping, general goal such as to get stronger isn’t enough.
You need to set specific goals such as increasing your lifts by 20% within 10 weeks. This will let you find a plan that can be tailored to your lifts and allow you to see the progress you’re making towards your goals. It will also help keep you on track throughout your workouts because you will have a hard deadline of where you want to see results.
You Need To Make a Plan
No matter your level of experience with working out, it’s important that you go into the gym with a solid plan. Your plan should ultimately reflect your goals and give you a roadmap of how to achieve them.
From beginner workouts all the way to expert training plans, there are a wide variety of plans on the Internet for you to choose from. Anybody can go into a gym and lift weights for an hour and see some type of results initially. But, if you go in and workout for an hour with a set plan it’s guaranteed you will see results and you’ll be able to set a foundation you can build from.
Are You Tracking Your Progress In The Gym?
Setting goals and making plans are worthless if you’re not tracking your progress. Tracking your progress will let you develop your routine and increase or adjust your weight accordingly each time you go into the gym. This will ensure that you are maintaining a good path towards reaching your goals, and will let you see your progress in real time.
Smartphones have made it incredibly simple to track your progress through free fitness tracking apps. If you are not a fan of bringing your phone to the gym, you can always go with the old-school method of a pen and paper. No matter what, there’s no excuse for not keeping track of your lifts.
Are You Only Focusing While In The Gym?
If you’re new to lifting, simply going to the gym may seem like enough to get yourself back into shape. However, if you want to see real results you will most likely also need to change your diet.
Working out for an hour, three times per week, will definitely provide you with results, but if you want to see even better progress you need to eat clean. This means cutting out the junk food and replacing it with whole grains, vegetables and lots of protein. This may seem like a lot to change all at once, so it’s recommended that you start with small changes (maybe a salad for lunch instead of a sandwich) before altering your diet over time. After a while, these small changes will lead to big results.
Don’t Be Skipping Workouts!
Eventually, you’ll miss a workout or two. It’s fine, sooner or later life gets in the way and nobody is perfect. The most important thing is that you don’t allow this to become a trend. Too often, especially early on, people will miss one day and then miss the next, and before they know it they’ve been out of the gym for a month.
Not only will this hinder your progress, but you may also have to start over from square one to get back to where you were. As with any other activity you want to be great at, consistency is key. More often than not, it is a mental hurdle that people need to overcome instead of a physical one. There will be days where you don’t feel like going to the gym, but those are the days you need to push through if you want to see real results.
Warming Up Is More Important Than You Think…
A lot of people get to the gym and want to hop right into their routine. This is a bad idea that will eventually lead to injury. Prior to starting your routine, you need to warm up with either cardio or very light weight lifting.
A quick 10-minute warm up will increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping so that you are ready for your primary exercises. The idea is to get your blood and oxygen flowing so that you’ll be prepared and focused for your full workout routine.
Are You Forgetting To Stretch?
It may not be the manliest or most fun thing to do at the gym, but stretching before exercising is a necessity. A good stretch will keep you flexible and make you less injury prone. Better stretching will allow you to avoid joint injuries that will not only be painful, but will set you back for months.
The last thing you want to have happen is an injury that stunts your progress because you didn’t want to take five minutes to stretch. It’s easy to skip and overlook, but something you should make a priority.
Stop Focusing On Weight Instead Of Form!
When you’re ready to begin lifting, the number one rule is that you need to leave your ego at the door. What this really means is that you should never sacrifice form for weight. Everybody wants to do their best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression and lift 400 pounds, but for beginners and even advanced lifters, lifting too much weight early on will only lead to injury.
Take the time to learn the correct form from the start, as it will let you learn good habits and the safest, most effective way to perform each lift. If you’re unsure of what you should be doing, consult a trainer or look on the Internet for videos and tips from professionals. It’s possible you will even see an increase in your lifts just by correcting your form.
Are You Over-Training In The Gym?
Sometimes the popular expression “less is more” seems obvious, yet people still don’t believe it. You may think you are doing your body a service by showing up at the gym every day of the week, when in fact you are hindering your gains by not allowing your body to recover.
Your body needs rest days for your muscles to recover and grow. By continuously working out, you’re going to be constantly breaking down your muscles without giving them a chance to repair and stimulate growth.
The solution to this problem is the easiest thing you’ll ever have to do: Take a day off and relax. If you’re really intent on getting in some type of exercise, you can take an active rest day, which includes activities such as walking, biking or playing some sports for 30 to 60 minutes. These will still let you exercise, but you won’t be lifting heavy weights that will break down your muscles and prevent progress.
Working Out Glamour Muscles
It’s important to balance out your lifts with both push and pull movements.
There’s no problem with working out your chest as long as you are also keeping a balance and working out your back as well. This is a common problem that too many people make. The craziest part of this mistake is that a body part like your back is important in aiding most of your primary chest lifts.
You’ll be surprised at the development your chest lifts will get with the addition of working out your back. This is true of all muscle pairings, and something you should be cognizant of when setting your routine. Make sure to create a balance between push and pull muscles.
How Long Are You Spending At The Gym?
Are You Working Out Too Fast?
More often than not people only have a certain amount of time allotted in their day for their workout. This can lead to trying to rush through your workouts without giving yourself enough time to rest in between sets.
Rest is crucial between sets for two reasons: It will decrease your chance of injury and it will help you keep proper form. If you’re lifting heavy and not resting between sets, you’ll easily get fatigued and will risk dropping the weight on yourself. Depending how much weight you’re lifting, this has the potential to seriously injure you.
Another reason to rest between sets is to prevent yourself from cheating in later sets and ruining your form. If you’re fatigued, you’ll try to compensate by using muscles and movements not intended for the exercise. This will negatively impact your progress and will hurt your form, possibly preventing future gains.
Generally, it is a good idea to take one to two minutes between sets, depending on how your body recovers and how much you want to push yourself. After a few days, you’ll have a better understanding of how your body reacts to lifting and how you want to pace yourself throughout your routine so that you still have strength at the end.
Are You Only Using Machines?
While not necessarily a mistake, this is still a problem that can hamper your long-term gains. Machines are great for beginners and will help you increase your strength, but they’re not as effective as dumbbells and barbells.
Most machines are primarily isolation exercises that will work out one specific muscle group, whereas many barbell exercises are compound movements that will work primary and secondary muscle groups. Another benefit of using barbells is that many exercises require stabilizer muscles, as well as core strength to fully perform the exercise. These types of exercises will help you build better overall strength, as you will be working out more muscle groups during each exercise.
Another benefit to learning to use dumbbells is that, at most commercial gyms, there are plenty waiting to be used. Rather than waiting for a machine to open up, you’ll have the advantage of grabbing a pair of dumbbells and getting straight to work.
Are You Not Making Changes To Your Workout?
As you progress and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to tinker with your routine to tailor it to fit your body. If your routine is getting stale, or you’re not seeing any improvement it may be time to change up your routine.
. Find a routine that doesn’t feel like work, but lets you see results. It should be challenging enough that you feel pushed, but also full of exercises you enjoy so that you want to keep coming back for more. There are thousands of routines you can pick from that will let you still hit your goals while mixing it up every few months.
You should stick with a plan for at least one to two months before evaluating it and determining if it is right for you. If you’re not happy with it or bored of it, find a new one and go crush it. It will probably get you motivated all over again, making the gym-going experience feel fresh. This will be a great way to keep yourself entertained on your fitness journey while allowing you to stay on track to hit (and hopefully exceed) your goals.
Everyone goes to the gym with good intentions. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the right way to go about achieving his or her goals. Without the knowledge, mistakes are made and often continually repeated.
If you’re guilty of making any of the mistakes mentioned, there are no more excuses. Make the appropriate changes and you’ll begin to see the results you want.
– Mark Rubino
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