Ever walk into the gym wondering if you are doing everything "right"? We all make mistakes, and while some are glaring and obvious, others may be simple and hard to recognize. Either way, most people don't realize how much these mistakes may contribute to lack of progress in the gym. Below you will find some common training mistakes that you may be guilty of -- try your best to avoid these in order to get the most out of your workouts.
Staying in your comfort zone -- While it is great that you are going to the gym on a consistent basis, you may begin to notice a few glaring factors that you may actually be staying in your comfort zone.
You know you are in your comfort zone when...
-- Your workouts are becoming easier.
-- You are no longer breaking a sweat on exercises that were once a challenge.
-- The initial progress you had seen (fat loss, gains in lean muscle) is at a standstill.
If you notice some of these signs, all you have to do is challenge yourself a bit more! That can be as simple as adding in an extra set, slightly increasing weight used or by an increase of speed or duration of training. By making a few small changes, you will once again be challenged and begin to see progress. After a few days or weeks, reassess your training and see if it is time to change one again.
Hanging on -- Ever see people walking on the treadmill at the highest incline and holding on for dear life? If that person happens to be you, then STOP! For cardio machines where you increase the incline, the purpose is typically to target your glutes and hamstrings. If you are hanging on to the equipment trying not to fall off, then you have taken a lot of the tension and pressure off of your lower body and have incorporated your upper body more than needed. Rather than hanging on, challenge yourself by lowering the incline or speed to a pace where you are stable and can use your lower body to do ALL of the work. Increase the incline as you become stronger. This is a great way to tighten and tone up your lower body.
Heavy Weight/Bad Form -- While challenging yourself in the gym is a great way to increase cardiovascular and muscular strength, some tend to do it with bad form. When you are trying to increase the weight you used for exercise, be sure that the weight can be controlled through the ENTIRE range of motion. Far too often people will swing their whole body into a bicep curl or any other isolation move in order to move the heavier weight. Swinging simply adds momentum to help you move the weight meaning that the muscle doesn't have to do as much work (sounds a bit counterproductive right?). You are better off dropping down to a weight that you find challenging but can control. If you are trying to break past a plateau, ask a spotter for assistance or complete the exercise with perfect form until you exhaust the muscle. There is no need to be a gym hero with the heavy weights you can barely move, you will probably end up with an injury in the long run from bad form.
Resting more than working -- Ever find yourself messing with your phone or music in between sets? Even worse getting in to a full-blown gossip fest that turns your training into social power hour? If you notice that you are resting and taking breaks just because you "think" you need one, think again. The rest period allows you to recover enough to gain the strength to over exert the muscle being trained once again. It is not meant to mindlessly shuffle through your social media pages and lose track of time. Make the most out of your workout by resting less and working more! You should feel exhausted after a good workout, not just going through the motions.
Training to eat -- We ALL know this person. This is the friend who wants to go on a run and follow it up by getting some take-out food. You "earned" that food right?! WRONG! While it is okay to eat out on occasion, indulging after every training session is a quick way to set your progress back. You may burn 400 calories in your gym session for an hour and then be able to scarf down a burger and fries that will tack on the 400 calories your burned and then some. If you are looking to change your body composition in terms of fat loss, eating out is a sure-fire way to see little to no progress. For individuals who are trying to bulk up and gain lean mass, I always recommend the majority of your food coming from a well-balanced diet or nutritious food rather than typical fast food options. Don't get me wrong, today there are several healthy options around every corner -- the problem lies in making the proper choices, which is always the hard part.
So now that you have insight on a few common training mistakes, are you guilty of any of them? By simply changing a few habits, you will begin to see changes in your training and in your physique. Share some of your previous training mistakes in the comments section below!