While some of the common mistakes in the gym may be minor, many of them can not only hinder progress a bit, but they can also cause injuries.
The following are some of the most common workout mistakes we have seen in gyms across the world. Are you guilty of any of these common workout mistakes in the gym?
Top Weight Training Errors
1. Not Stretching After Your Workout
When you don’t stretch after exercising, your body starts to lose flexibility. When you have great flexibility, you will not only increase your athletic performance but, also your flexibility plays an essential role in helping you stay injury free.
2. Not Warming Your Muscles Up Before Training
Whether you’re training for a marathon or bodybuilding competition when you exercise your muscle need to be warm. When you are performing aerobics or resistance training warming up is essential. You should also never stretch cold muscles. So remember always to warm up first, then exercise and stretch.
3. Your Not Brining the Intensity
Most people lack intensity at the gym. While you shouldn’t push yourself too hard. Especially, don’t push yourself if you’re starting an exercise program. Although, you need to work at an intensity level high enough to get results. If you are not training with intensity, you will be limiting your gains. Finding your right intensity level takes some experience. However, it does not take skill to know if you are not working out hard enough.
Tips for Raising Your Intensity
- Make sure you are working out hard enough you are getting sore the next day.
- Don’t take too much rest between sets and exercises.
- Work each set to failure.
- Use a weight that challenges you.
- Make sure you are not able to laugh and chat while in the middle of a set.
- Concentrate on the form and on squeezing each muscle for a full contraction.
4. Spending to Much Time In the Gym
If You are spending more than 1-hour weight training in the gym, you are likely there too long. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder, it should not take you more than 1-hour to complete your workout. If it does, you are either (1) moving too slow or (2) doing too much in one session. If your gym is so busy that you can’t get on the machines you want to use, then you need to find another gym or go at a different time.
Tips for Getting In and Out of the Gym
- Workout 1 major body part and 1 minor body part per workout (such as back and biceps, chest and triceps, Legs and Shoulders).
- Complete no more than 3 to 5 exercises per body part, 3 to 4 sets per exercise.
- Take no more than 1 to 2 minutes break between sets. The goal at the gym is to fatigue your muscles, not recover.
- Recover outside the gym,
5. Too Many Training Sessions
The fastest way to derail your long term muscle gains is to overtrain. Specifically, When you overtrain, you end up breaking down your body faster than it can repairs itself. The larger your muscles get the more time they will need to repair. Your muscle grows during the recovery, and some people don’t realize how long they have to rest. You need to listen to your body and if a muscle is sore don’t work it again until it fully recovers.
6. Not Challenging Yourself with Progressive Resistance
If you are stagnating in muscle growth you might be completing the same exercise or using the same amount of weight every workout. Your goal should be to have continuous muscle growth. Admittedly, you must keep challenging yourself. There are many ways to challenge yourself. One way is to mix up your routine which, this keeps your muscles guessing about what is coming next. Another is, keep progressively adding weight to keep straining your muscle fibers. Best of all if you utilize both of these tips, you will not only see huge results, you will keep every workout fresh and exciting.
7. You Don’t Have a Real Goal
If you are exercising to exercise you will never get any gains. Exercise can be gratifying on its own. But once the high of pushing out huge reps on the bench press wears off, it might seem a bit pointless. Unless each workout is getting you a step closer to a goal, you will lose interest in exercising. Finally, make sure your goals are challenging but achievable. Keep both short-term and long-term goals in mind to keep you motivated, and chart your progress.
8. You Are Bringing too Much Intensity
Exercising too hard can be just as bad as not exercising hard enough. High-intensity in the gym is necessary, but not all the time. High-intensity training is a training methods techniques, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and other advanced training techniques routinely. Using these techniques too often can result in overtraining, fewer gains, slower recovery, and possible injuries. All the things that you do NOT want in the first place. Remember, less can mean more if you train, eat and sleep correctly. Slow and steady wins the race!
9. Not Lifting Heavy Enough or Lifting Too Heavy You Have Bad Form
You are using too light of weight. If you aren’t lifting enough, you will limit your gains. If you can do more than 12 reps, the resistance is too small you need to add a little. Add enough weight that will again allow you only to get eight reps.
Here is a Compilation of People Lifting to Much Weight with Bad Form
10. Going to Fast or too Slow
You need to use the correct speed for the type of exercise you are doing. When you use a wrong speed, such as performing repetitions for strength gains too fast, or you are using momentum to lift the weight. If you are using momentum to push the weight, you are working your muscle fibers less muscle. Consequently, you will be limiting your muscle growth. When you go to fast you will also be opening yourself up for a possible injury by not controlling the weight. The slower the movement, the more controlled it is and the less likely you’ll get hurt from it. Your muscles will be working more with controlled weight instead of depending upon momentum.
11. Not Mixing Up Your Workout Routines
We all tend to be creatures of habits and repeat the things we like do. So it’s no wonder that once we find a workout that suits us, we stick to it. The best way to not make improvements in the gym is not to change your workout. You can change your routine in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
- Changing the order of exercises
- Rotating the types of exercises
- Adjusting the amount of weight used
- Altering the number of reps conversely with the weight used
- Switching the types of exercises used (dumbbell vs. barbell, cable vs. machine, etc.).
You should consider significant changes to your workout program after four to six weeks. Consequently, you want to avoid a pattern where you stop producing results because your body has hit a plateau. Besides changing your workout, mix up your training by cross-training -- try circuit training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) once a week.
12. You Trying to Advance Faster than Your Current Ability
You want to be copying the hardcore gym members. It’s easy to think of getting as ripped as the hardcore gym members, and you have to follow their lead. But, Don’t just copy someone when you see them lifting heavy weights or using a particular technique. Your problem will be what the other persons goals or training program is. Consequently, copying someone else could land you with unexpected results or an injury. The best solution is to do your homework before you hit the gym and know what the best program for you is.
13. You Need to Take Some Rest Days
If you are working out every day you are probably wrong. Working out every day is not sustainable -- either physically or mentally. Your body needs to rest. If you work out every day, you won’t be able to maintain a useful intensity, and you’ll get bored. Weight training can then become a chore, and you might lose motivation. Incorporate proper rest days into your schedule. Rest days will help you recover and increase long term results.
14. Not Taking Breaks
Never taking a break can lead to overtraining and potential burnout. If your training is getting stale and you’re not getting anywhere, these are signs of overtraining. If you see signs of overtraining take a break -- but do it properly and take a couple of weeks off. It gives you what you need for a total recovery of your body and your mind. The gym will be there when you get back, and you will be revitalized
13. Skipping and Neglecting Body Parts
You must have seen some of those top massive bodybuilders strutting around with huge upper bodies and skinny little legs. Consequently, when you only work a few muscles, you will give your body an unbalanced appearance and set yourself up for problems later through muscle imbalances. As a result, When you work some muscles and ignore others, you will develop a muscle imbalance. Accordingly, if you have too much of an imbalance, you could cause an eventual injury from everyday activities.
14. Not Balancing Out You Workout
It is also just as important to exercise complementary muscle groups as it is not to neglect entire body parts. For example, when you work on your biceps make sure you also work on your triceps, or quads and hamstrings. Admittedly, the worst thing you can do for your legs is to have imbalanced strength. Specifically, if hamstrings are not trained equally with quads, you will risk tearing you hamstring, when running, climbing or even walking since it can’t compensate for you strong quadriceps. On the other hand, when you have good muscle balance, you are less likely to sustain an injury.
Here are Some Uncommon Embarrassing Mistakes
15. Working Abs Continuously and Neglecting Your Lower Back
Similarly, if you work your abs continuously and neglect your lower back you could be setting yourself up for back problems and injuries. Lower back exercises are just as crucial as ab exercises. When you fail to work one, and you will create a muscle imbalance that will result in a weakened lower back compared to your abs. Obviously, if your abs are pulling your torso harder than you lower back you have the potential for lower back injuries. Understandably if you want to prevent this problem, you should work your core completely. For that reason, you need to include your stomach muscles and lower back to improve posture, reduce the risk for a back injury. Similarly, when you have a strong overall core you will have increased speed, increased strength and, improved sports performance.
16. Not Working Out Your Entire Body
You need to make sure to work out all of your muscle groups, to ensure the correct development of your entire body. If you aren’t sure how to do so, check out our exercises page and see what body parts and exercises you should add to your routines. You could also spend at least one session with a personal trainer so they can help you develop a personalized plan.
17. Fatiguing Support Muscles Before Primary Muscles
When you train supporting muscles before target muscles you can set yourself up for injury, or will underwork your primary muscles. In fact, you do NOT want to train the smaller supporting (secondary muscles) before the target muscle. Because supporting muscles help you lift the weight used for the target muscle’s growth. Accordingly, if your supporting muscles are fatigue, you will not be able to handle the weight needed to develop the larger target muscle. for example, you don’t want to work your triceps before your chest; or working out biceps before back.
18. Working Upper Abs Before Lower Abs
You want to work your lower abs before your upper abs. Because your lower ab muscles are smaller muscles and are weaker and less developed than the upper ab muscles. When you train the upper ab muscles first, which unfortunately most people do, you will be making a similar mistake as above. When you start your ab work with crunches or sit-ups, you will be too tired to train the lower ab muscles adequately. As a result, the upper ab muscles receive most of the training at the expense of the lower ab muscles. Accordingly, not working your lower abs first is why many people develop a “pooch” below the belly button is so hard to lose.
How to Avoid the Pooch Belly
One of the best exercises to start your abs work with is hanging leg raises. If you are starting and you lack arm strength, you can also do leg raises while lying on a bench or the floor. Certainly, the goal is to develop a flat tummy and sexy waistline, so you want to train the lower abs first.
19. Drinking Enough Water -- Not Staying Hydrated
You must drink water before, during, and after your workout. Water is the most essential and abundant nutrient in the body. Water is the most critical nutrient for health, growth, development and is the medium in which all energy reactions take place. You must drink a lot of water for health, stamina, fuel, and building muscle. When you fail to stay hydrated, you will diminish your performance in the gym. Consequently, you will notice decreased strength, endurance, potential cramping and lack of energy. Remember, if you are thirsty, you are already in dehydration mode. One solution is to drink at least 16 ounces before and immediately after your workout and sip water during your workout as well. You don’t want to be chugging water during your workout either, and this can make you feel bloated and sluggish.
20. Having Poor Posture
Stand tall and be encouraged that you are at the gym and improving your physical fitness. Poor posture alone can lead to injuries. There are several exercises where posture is critical. Especially heavy weighted power exercises such as the deadlift, squat and bench press.
Here Are Some Examples of Poor Form and Posture
- Jerking the weight. Jerking the weight causes you not only to lose proper form and lead to a possible injury, but it also takes the resistance off the muscle and will diminish effectiveness. Remember to use a smooth, controlled movement and proper form when performing all exercises.
- Swinging the weight. Swinging the weight will create momentum providing for less muscle fiber being worked, less muscle growth and be open for a possible injury due to poor form. Unfortunately, swinging is a prevalent site for many when working the back or working the biceps.
- Twisting or jerking your body. Turning your body or use a jerking motion to lift the weight will put you at risk for injury.
- Performing the Movement too fast. When movement is performed to fast, less muscle fiber are worked and less growth will occur.
- Not using the full range of motion. When weight training you need to use a full range of motion. Your muscle strength will increase when you perform exercises through a complete extension/flexion, and your joints will stay more mobile. Using a full range of motion increases the force of contraction during each rep and as a result, can greatly enhance your results. No matter how fast you go or how many reps you do, it won’t be as effective as fewer and easier exercises done with a complete range of motion.
- Pulling on your neck when doing stomach crunches. When you place your hands behind your neck and pull your neck forward as you come up when doing stomach crunches you can injure your neck. Your hands should be on the chest, or by your side.
- Arching the back when doing bench presses. Arching the back with your butt off the bench can injure your lower back; specifically, the intervertebral disc which can experience compression when forced into this position. Poor posture is not often thought about when performing bench exercises, such as bench presses, but it is relevant. Remember to keep your feet flat on the floor and butt on the bench with no more than slight arch in your lower back.
- Not keeping your back straight when deadlifting. Performing deadlifts with an improper posture increase risk of spinal disc injuries like hernias. When performing a deadlift, it is vital that you do not round out your lower back at any point during the deadlift exercise. Instead, keep your back straight with head nether looking up or down (neutral position) at all times.
- Bending too far forward when squatting, and this can cause you to lose your balance. It can also put too much stress on your lower back. When squatting make sure your back is arched, head up, abs are tight, and your body is in proper alignment. Do not bend past your knees.
21. Working out Too Long
You may have the common misbelief that for your exercise plan to keep being effective, you have to add more exercises or do longer cardio routines. Consequently, taking too long to complete your workout can result in sub-par results. Accordingly, the trick is to work harder, not longer. You can do this by lifting heavier and resting less in between sets. In other words, accomplishing more in the same amount of time, or as much in less time. Stop socializing in the gym.
22. Using the Gym as Your Social Club
It is great to have friends at the gym and people who will push you to be better. But you shouldn’t be standing around chatting, the entire time you are at the gym. Not only are you hurting your gains but the other people you are distracting. You should rest long enough to be ready for your next set; most of the time this is the time it takes to prepare the equipment. Other things you should be doing is logging your routine and weight, this all takes time, don’t waste it catching up on nonsense. If you are not training hard enough that it is difficult to hold a conversation, then you are not bringing the intensity.
23. Not Cooling Down When Your Workout is Complete
When you’re finished, make sure to stretch out each major muscle. When you don’t stretch, your body loses flexibility, and when you do stretch, you gain flexibility and mobility. Good flexibility not only increases athletic performance but also plays an important role in helping you stay injury free. Accordingly, post-workout stretching is an important part of preparing your muscle for your next workout. Additionally, stretching will also minimize post-exercise muscle soreness by increasing blood flow. Likewise, this increased blood flow will speed up the muscle repairing and healing processes.
24. Training While You Are Sick
Thinking when you have a cold or flu that you’ll go to the gym and work it out of your system is pure nonsense. Besides spreading your illness to others is you will likely have poor form. When you train sick, you will be weakening your immune system while it tries to repair damaged muscles from your training. In other words, you will not only have your cold or flu longer by lowering your immune system, but you will also lessen your muscle development. If you’re feeling ill, eat well and take a few days off to recover until you’re fully fit to begin training again.
Top Cardio Errors
These errors are relevant to resistance training as well but are definitely more important to not do during cardio.
25. Not Warming Up
When doing cardio or HIIT you need to get your blood pumping into your muscle before you raise the intensity. You should never set the treadmill, bike or stair climber to your fastest pace as soon as you step on. Gradually increase your speed after your muscle have been warmed up. Thus once your muscle has achieved a good blood flow, you can raise the intensity, with less risk of injury.
26. Too Much Cardio
When you do too much cardio your body perceives cardio exercising as a stressor, and chemically reacts the same way it does to “bad” stress. Therefore, too much cardio can have negative effects on your metabolism, and this may seem contradictory. But, I am sure you know someone who runs all the time, and they look similar to a couch potato. I like the term “fatletic” they appear athletic but also look overweight. Doing too much cardio can do the same thing as eating too few calories to your metabolism. Additionally, too much cardio exercise can result in muscle loss. Understandably, too much cardio also puts a lot of wear and tear on your body, which could leave you open to injury and overtraining.
27. Exercising Your Body Too Hard
If you want to lose fat and not muscle you should not set cardio equipment at the fast cardio pace. You can find target heart rates for fat burning are posted on treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary exercise bikes. The measurements used to get those numbers are designed to avoid litigation as much as they are as to benefit users. But if you are looking to lose weight, you should work more HIIT, which is proven to raise your metabolism more than traditional cardio.
28. Poor Technique and Form
Poor posture, technique, and form all go together. Bad posture such as bending forward can result in injuries to your lower back. Similarly, this can put pressure on your knee and hip joints. When using cardio equipment, stand tall with good posture.
Some Examples of Bad Form During Cardio
On treadmills keep the incline and speed adjusted so you can walk without having to hold on to the machine. Also, avoid leaning back while hanging on with your hands.
For stair steppers, keep your upper body lifted. Don’t Lean forward and rest your upper body on the machine; this means the intensity is beyond your ability. Accordingly, if you find yourself doing these things, lighten the load or slow down. Set the rate so that you can stand as you normally would walking up a flight of stairs.
When using an elliptical trainer go for a full extension of the legs each time.
Finally, on stationary cycles or outdoor bicycles sit upright, or in the bikes natural position.
29. Leaning on the Equipment
If you are lean on the handrails of say, a treadmill, during your workout, you’re just defeating the purpose. Not only do you have poor posture, but you are removing some of the resistance of your body weight. Of course, this will make your workout easier, but that is not the point. The point is to work your body, so keep your arms moving as you would when walking or running.
30. Doing Cardio Before Weight Training
There are reasons you do NOT want to do your cardio before weight training. Once your cardio is done, the quality of your lifting will most likely suffer. Your energy sources may be used up. Since you reap the most benefit from the last two or three reps of weight lifting, it is essential that you have the necessary energy to achieve those reps. That fuel may not be available if you do a hard cardio workout before your weight training. Consistently training in a weakened state leads to a decrease in strength over time because it discourages your muscles from being adequately challenged. Cardio burns fat and carbs. If you do your cardio first, the carbs may not be there to fuel your weight training.
31. Not Cooling Down
You need to shower after a good cardio workout, and you don’t want to do that immediately since you will likely still be sweating. You need to cool down before you shower literally. Additionally, if you want to stay injury free, you should allow your muscles time to cool down. Cooling down will help your body to recover, and this recovery will help your body be prepared for the next training session. Cooldown and stretching are just as important as warming up. Obviously, you need to allow your heart rate to lower after exercise is just important as gradually raising your heart rate during warmups.
Top Stretching Errors
32. Not Holding The Stretch
By not holding the stretch you are minimizing the purpose of the stretch. Holding the stretch (Static Stretching) for 15-30 seconds will create more flexibility, loosen muscles, and tendons while reducing muscle tension. You want your muscle to relax into the stretch, and there should be some initial discomfort. Everyone pain threshold is different, so if you have a high pain threshold you need to be more careful when stretching, not to go too far.
33. Not Stretching At All
If you don’t stretch, your body will lose flexibility. Consequently, if you are lifting for mass, you will become muscle bound. You don’t have to become muscle bound if you would only stretch. You can have huge muscles and good mobility and flexibility. Good flexibility will not only increase your athletic performance but will also help you avoid injuries.
34. Bouncing Your Stretch
Bouncing while stretching can cause microtrauma in the muscle, and not the kind of microtrauma you want from resistance training. As a result of bounding your muscles will heal themselves with scar tissue, not larger muscles. This scar tissue will tighten your muscle and make you less flexible. As a result, the bouncing is giving you the exact opposite result that you desire from stretching. You will be more prone to pain and injury. Consequently, Ballistic Stretching is a type of repetitive, bounce type movement stretching and if done improperly it can strain your muscles and tendons because they aren’t quite warmed up yet.
35. Static Stretching Cold Muscles
Static stretching can lead to increased flexibility if done properly. For some reason up until the mid-2000s, we all learned in gym class to stretch before all exercises. Eventually, exercise scientist did enough studies to figure out it was bad to stretch cold muscles and stretching is not a warm-up.
Have Confidence at the Gym
You don’t have to be the fittest person at the gym and don’t worry about that. You should be going to the gym to improve your fitness. Most importantly you need to get encouragement for setting and reaching your goals, not comparing yourself to others. We are all on our fitness journey and have our unique challenges. Understanding and avoiding the above workout mistakes will help you a ton in reaching your fitness goals.