WHETHER you are a novice or a fitness guru, it's easy to fall into the trap of committing some of the common mistakes that people make at the gym. It could explain why after years of lifting weights and working out for long hours, you have not been having much success.
According to gym instructor Greg Dawkins, you will have to learn to balance working out and eating right to achieve your weight-loss goals. But, while some people have no problem going to the gym, they can easily fall short of achieving their goals because of doing the wrong things.
"People have this great expectation that, once you go to the gym, you are going to instantly lose the weight, but it doesn't work like that," said Dawkins.
Here are some of the 10 most common mistake people make at the gym.
1. Having no set goals. "Some people use the gym as a social club. But you are going to find that you come and still look the same way you came after a few months, because you are not spending time working out," Dawkins noted. One way to avoid this trap is to establish set goals before you head out to the gym. Establish in your mind what it is you want to accomplish for the day, so that you can be more focused while everyone else is socialising.
2. Sticking with the same routine. If you want to see changes in your body, then you will have to challenge yourself and switch up your routine regularly. If you want your muscles to develop, for example, you will have to increase the resistance by adding more weights each month at least. By changing up your routine, you will help to keep your sessions from becoming too boring.
3. Forgetting to warm up. Don't just immediately start running on the treadmill as you step into the gym. Warm up by walking for about five minutes first to increase the temperature of your muscles. Warming up and stretching before workouts will help to prevent tears and pulls. "Normally when you warm up, you are able to do more like running much faster and lifting more weights," Dawkins said.
4. Overdoing it. While it's good to challenge yourself, this will have to be done with care. You are setting yourself up for muscle tears and injuries by lifting weights that are clearly far too heavy for you. While you might get a few rounds of cheers from your friends, the effect overlifting can have on your body is definitely not worth it. "It's a very, very common mistake people make at the gym," noted the instructor. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
5. Maintaining poor posture. A good workout can no doubt wear you out, but it's always good to maintain proper form to prevent torn muscles and tendons. Also try not to swing the weights or lift them too swiftly to prevent injuries. It is also important that you keep your feet flat on the floor and butt on the bench with no more than a slight arch in your lower back while doing bench presses.
6. Forgetting to hydrate. Always remember to hydrate before, after and during your workout sessions to fuel your body and regulate your temperature throughout your workouts. You are at an even greater risk for dehydration if you are sweating a lot during your workout sessions. While water is probably the best thing to drink, you can also keep a bottle of sports drink on hand as well. "If you are going to participate in cardio, especially, it is always best to hydrate from the day before," advised Dawkins.
7. Overworking just one muscle group. Overworking your muscles can cause muscle sprains, tears, cramps and swelling. It's important that you pace yourself when you first start out at a gym. Also vary the areas that you work out weekly, so that all your muscles are given some attention. You can ask your gym instructor to help you decide what to do each day. Don't try to master everything in the first week, or you might find yourself having to sit out your sessions because of injuries.
8. Comparing yourself to others. Try to focus on reaching your fitness goal instead of comparing yourself to others at the gym. Remember that the person you are comparing yourself to was once a rookie like yourself. Instead of being demotivated because you can't master the techniques as well as they can, try to ask these people for tips that will help you to reach your fitness goals.
9. Never taking a break. It's OK to miss a gym session. If you are sick, you might do your body more good by actually staying home in bed. Experts also suggest that you rest at least two days for the week and that you only work your muscles three to four days per week. This is because your body needs time to recover from a workout.
10. Spot-reducing fat. Although you might have a problem area that you would ideally want to reduce, you will not be able to achieve this goal by focusing solely on this one area. So while your aim is to get rid of your flabby stomach, doing rounds of ab workouts only will not get you there. "It doesn't work like that," Dawkins warned. Doing a variety of workouts will help to get you a flatter ab much faster.