Not all workouts were created equal. Some are high intensity, some are low intensity; and some days are simply better than others. Whether you’re a novice in the gym, or the next Schwarzenegger, everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Such mistakes can hinder our progress, and result in injuries. But hey! We are only human…
In an attempt to help us rectify these mistakes, here are 8 common gym mistakes you don’t want to make:
1. Lifting heavier with one arm than the other
This mistake is mainly done through bicep curls. It is unbelievable the amount of times I hear: ‘One arm is smaller than the other so I need to lift heavier with it’, Or ‘One arm is stronger than the other so I’ll lift heavier with my other arm to correct it’. Be honest. We’ve all thought it at one point. However it is a definite no when it comes to lifting.
If you do make this mistake, it can lead to a vast difference in strength between the arms, as well as a size difference, resulting in an unequal physique. Not cool. The solution? Curl equal weights in both arms. Completing equal reps on both arms. This will allow your weaker arm to catch up as much as possible in terms of size and strength.
2. Skipping the warm up
Skipping your warm-up before a workout is big mistake. Unfortunately it’s also a mistake that many of us make. Skipping a warm-up increases your chance of injury; from pulled muscles, to torn ligaments. In addition, without stretching you’ll struggle to achieve the proper range of motion during your workout (Which can hinder your progress).
The solution? Have a set warm-up before each workout, including static stretches (eg: lunges, tricep stretch etc), and bodyweight exercises to increase your heart rate, and get the blood pumping around your body.
3. Forgetting your water bottle
We’re only human. And unfortunately this means that sometimes we forget things…Make sure that your water bottle isn’t one of them. Taking a trip to the water fountain every 5 minutes is hardly an option, and therefore dehydration becomes a real issue. Although it may seem trivial, a combination of dehydration and lost time in-between sets, is a bad recipe for workout success.
The solution? Don’t forget your water bottle! Alternatively, pack a spare in your gym bag.
4. Not timing your rest periods
How long should you be resting in-between sets? 20 seconds? 30 seconds? 1 minute? It depends. But that’s not the point…Before each workout you should have it planned out to the T, and be ready to time your rest periods. This will not only allow you to maximise your results, but also spend less unnecessary time in the gym.
5. Performing reps too fast
Hypertrophy (Muscle growth) occurs best through ‘time under tension’. This means that the longer your muscles are engaged, the better your results will be. Therefore performing repetitions at a slower, more controlled speed is a much better alternative to doing 2 reps a second. When performing compound lifts such as bench press and squats, you should aim for at least 2-3 seconds per repetition. This gives our muscles plenty of engagement, and allows them to stretch out and take full advantage of the lift. Slow and steady wins the race…
6. Lifting too heavy
Lifting heavy is cool, but it’s not so cool when you end up injured, or with little to no results. As macho as it may seem to lift as heavy as possible, there is a time and a place to do just that. Lifting too heavy significantly increases our chances of getting injured, and doesn’t always guarantee better results, especially when sacrificing good form. A good rule of thumb is to stop adding weight when you can no long complete that exercise with perfect form.
7. Sticking to the same workout ALL the time
Routine isn’t always good…Sticking to the exact same workout every time you go the gym, allows our muscles to adapt. Think of it like this: When we lift weights we tear our muscle fibres, and they rebuild bigger and stronger (Hypertrophy). However our muscles don’t like tearing and therefore are trying to prevent it. Therefore, by hitting the same workout consecutively allows our muscles to adapt and can hinder our progress.
To try to avoid this and keep your momentum going, try to switch up your workout every time you hit the gym. This can be done by performing more reps than usual, and/or a heavier or lighter weight than your previous session.
8. Waiting too long for equipment
It’s 7pm on international chest day, and you’re waiting for a bench. Are you going to get one? Absolutely fucking not. Instead of waiting around for equipment, this is an excellent opportunity to improvise, switch up your training, and try new things. Waiting around for equipment takes away our momentum, and our bodies begin to recover, which can make it much harder for us to get going again. Can’t get a bench? How about some push-ups? Or dips? You get the idea.
In conclusion hitting the gym is an excellent lifestyle choice. However it can quickly take a turn for the worst if we’re not careful. By avoiding these simple mistakes, you’re already on your way to a fitter, and healthier version of yourself. Just remember to be organised, be sensible, and be prepared every time you hit the gym!