When it comes to training, how do you know you’re on the right track? Knowing what not to do during and between training sessions is the trick to long-lasting results. Here are some of the most common training mistakes to avoid next time you hit the gym.
When you exercise the right way, you should leave your workouts feeling energized and “high” – so much so that you’ll be drawn to do it again after recovering for a couple of days.
You Skip the Warm-Up
Warming up helps prime your nervous system for exercise, helping you prevent skipped heartbeats and premature fatigue. This is especially important if you’ll be doing high-intensity exercises, which may lead to injury if you’re not properly warmed up.
To warm up properly, all you need to do is some light activity that causes you to break into a light sweat. Brisk walking, arm circles, marching in place, squats, shoulder shrugs… any (or all) of these can be used to get your body warmed up and ready to exercise.
As noted by John Paul Catanzaro, a Certified Kinesiologist and exercise physiologist, it takes 10-15 seconds of muscular contractions to raise your body temperature by 1°Celsius, and a proper warm-up should raise your body temperature by 1-2°C (1.4-2.8°Fahrenheit) – just enough to cause sweating.
Waiting for equipment
Gym lines are bound to form during peak hours. The best fix? Head to the gym early in the morning or after 7 p.m., once the pre-work and post-work crowds have finished.
But no matter how busy the gym is, you shouldn’t have to stall your routine in order to wait for equipment. To get around this obstacle, always have alternative options in the back of your mind in case your preferred equipment is taken. Swap your back squats with a set of dumbbell goblet squats, which can be just as challenging and add an element of core strength. Come prepared with a Plan B and you’ll stay moving rather than wasting your time waiting for the bench to open up.
You’re Repeating The Same Workouts
Just because you get really good at one workout by repeating it over and over again doesn’t mean you’re actually making any progress. You need variety in your training routine, otherwise, your body isn’t going to benefit very much at all.
You have to mix it up. If you have a favorite go-to workout, there’s nothing wrong with doing it once or twice a week. Don’t use it as a fallback when you’re in that “something is better than nothing” mindset. That’s like making scrambled eggs seven days a week and expecting to be a better cook.
You Overdo It
When you first start out exercising, you may fall into the trap of assuming that the more often you do it, the faster you’ll see results. But overdoing it at the start is a key cause of injury and burnout. Not only is it important to start slow and build your intensity gradually, but it’s also important to give your body adequate time for recovery. An equation to keep in mind is that as intensity increases, a frequency can be diminished. For example, as a weak beginner, you can do high-intensity exercise three times a week and not put much stress on your system.
But once your strength and endurance improve, each exercise session is placing an increasingly greater amount of stress on your body (as long as you keep pushing yourself to the max). At that point, it’s actually wise to reduce the frequency of your sessions to give your body enough time to recover in between.
In fact, you need to allow your body to fully recuperate in between sessions in order for the exercise to remain productive, and you may only need one session a week for optimal results. If you’re not sure if you’re exercising too intensely and/or too frequently, here are seven signs you may be overdoing it. You needn’t spend two hours each time you’re at the gym. As you’ll see below (#7), some of the best workouts are only 20 minutes long… or less. If you’re spending considerably longer, you might be overdoing it (or you’re wasting time on “busy work”).
Not planning your routine ahead of time
Walking into the gym without a plan in mind is a bit like heading to the grocery store without a shopping list. You’ll end up wandering aimlessly back and forth, spending way more time than necessary. Your plan of attack should be well thought out in advance. Include the exercises, sets, and reps as well as the order you want to do them in so you can plan your route around the weight room floor. Write them down (and it’s okay to use a regular old notebook since a smartphone can just be distracting).
If you’re working out with a buddy, take a time to discuss the routine ahead of time so you’re both on the same page. This cuts down on talking and ensures that you both get down to business.
You’re Not Allowing Enough Recovery Time
You can’t do a leg workout in the morning, sit around all day and expect to be able to do another leg workout the next day without consequences. You don’t necessarily need to take a day off, but you need to give one part of your body a break while you work out another.
“No pain, no gain” doesn’t mean you have to keep lifting and extending until you break. Slowing down doesn’t make you weak: it makes you smart. Guys who train smart are the ones who see results and manage to maintain those results.
The more training mistakes you make, the less progress you’ll see. Challenge yourself and expose your muscles to a variety of training techniques, but don’t overdo it, and give yourself a break every once in awhile. You’ve earned it.