When you first join a gym it can seem like quite a daunting place, I mean there's a lot of people you don't know, a lot of equipment you've never heard of, and basically the whole environment can seem rather daunting.
You may recognise one or two machines, perhaps the treadmill or cross-trainer, and you can always do some mat-work too. Before you know it you've set yourself a little routine and when you end up at the gym, you continue with this because it's comfortable for you.
I decided to write a post about three very common gym mistakes that you may find yourself making because nobody has yet pointed them out to you, but after reading this post it could completely reshape your entire outlook at the gym so that you're in a better position to get so much more from it.
1) Not Warming Up Properly
If your goal is to lose a few pounds or improve your overall fitness then it's fair to start your warm-up with a low-intensity cardio session and slowly work up the intensity, however it is a whole other ball game if you're there to work on a particular muscle group.
I've never understood why people come to the gym to work on their Arms, Chest, Shoulders etc then only warm-up using the treadmill. Yes it might warm your overall body temperature if it's cold outside, but you've not prepared your muscles for the intensity they're about to face.
This can be very dangerous if you think you're ready and you go straight into a heavy lift. It's one of the most common ways to cause yourself an injury.
A proper warm-up will fully prepare your muscles for what they're about to face and will even help them to contract faster due to them engaging the central nervous system.
Here's a good rule of thumb: say your first exercise's maximum weight is 50kg, your first 8 reps should be around 30% of that maximum, so 15kg, then do six reps at 50% which is 25kg and keep reducing this until you are ready to properly begin your exercises. Repeat this process once more with another exercise and follow the same process if working on a different muscle group.
2) Spending Too Much Time on your Phone
I've made this mistake several times in the past, which is why I feel it's appropriate to share it with you. I know it's important to keep up with the latest happenings across your social world but honestly 45 minutes of your day you're setting aside here, surely you can concentrate that time exclusively on yourself?
When I've been on my phone between sets in the past I automatically switch off from my focus. I then end up losing my momentum, my motivation drops and before I know it I want to leave. Goals missed.
So make a playlist in advance, listen to a podcast, take an iPod, turn your WI-FI/4G off if you have to take your phone and concentrate on your goals and the reason why you're there and why you pay for your monthly subscription.
3) Not Having a Plan
This is such a common mistake and one that can be quite infuriating when you're speaking to a friend or relative about how they never seem to get anywhere with their goals and end up giving up.
The first thing I say is "what are your goals?", they answer, then I ask "well what is your plan?" and they come back with something very general like "oh well I'm going as much as I can and when I'm there I go on the treadmill and cross-trainer". It's not enough.
I know because I've wasted too many hours at the gym basically 'treading water' and maintaining what I've got rather than making any real progress from all the effort I've put in.
Going to the gym without a plan first is like turning up to the desert without water. Plan each session in advance wherever possible and think about the following:-
- Your Goals Today
- What You Plan on Working On Today
- How Many Sets? Reps? Exercises?
Even if you carry a piece of paper around with you, so what. You will have a much clearer direction because you'll have planned using your head and not attempted to decide on the day what your next exercise will be when you're already too tired.
There are so many more mistakes we all continue to make at the gym, easy habits to get into, and it can be hard at times but I'll do my best to cover these in future posts. The key is being honest with yourself and being as objective as possible. Ask yourself 'Am I guilty of any of these?'
If you'd like to see more fitness and gym-related articles, please check out my personal blog by clicking right here.