Exercise, when done properly, can be a tremendous asset to one’s weight loss goals. That “when done properly” caveat is imperative. Unfortunately, it’s rather common to see people doing things in the gym that won’t aid their weight loss goals to any particularly great extent and may actually be counterproductive to their overall health.
In the spirit of leveraging your time in the gym to be as beneficial as possible to your weight and overall health, here are five common gym mistakes to be made aware of as you progress towards a healthier you:
1. Being lazy. For some people, there exists an attitude that once they’ve gotten through the doors of the gym the work is nearly complete. Time in the gym can then be supplemented by skipping sets, taking long breaks to check Facebook mobile, engaging in long conversations with people, calling it a day a little earlier than planned, etc. If you show up to the gym with this attitude you’re only fooling yourself by even going in the first place. You may as well stay home. The gym is a place for work. Get in. Work. Get out. No lingering around or wasting time.
2. Sticking to “easy” workouts. There is mostly only truth behind the saying “no pain, no gain”. If you want to make strides towards health and weight loss in the gym, you’ve got to work. When faced with the choice between one of two workouts, pick the harder one. We recommend an approach built upon the four best exercises to tone the whole body.
Don’t waste time on exercises that don’t really make much of a difference to your body. Examples of these would be: calf raises, crunches, forearm curls, and bicep curls. One thing each of these exercises have in common is that they work only a small, isolated part of your body. Your goal should be to do exercises that work the whole body. Squats and deadlifts are two of the best exercises for getting started with building full body strength. Some of the people with the best ab muscles on the planet never do sit-ups, they do dynamic, full-body exercises that supply them with intense core strength.
3. Not warming up and stretching. You’ve got to heat your body up and stretch, in that order, prior to engaging in a workout in order to avoid injury. A good warm-up is a brisk uphill walk on a treadmill (strive for 4 miles per hour) for 10-15 minutes. One may also spend that same amount of time on an elliptical machine. You don’t want to burn yourself out. After all, this is only a warm-up. The goal is to elevate your body’s core temperature and heart rate and sustain it for a few minutes prior to engaging in a series of dynamic body stretches. Following this, you can begin with weight-training exercises or whatever other activity you have planned.
4. Not using proper form during exercises. Form first, weight second. That’s what any personal trainer will tell you regarding your weight-lifting aspirations. It is essential to learn the proper form of exercises you are doing. The guy in the gym who can lift 300 pounds using terrible form isn’t doing remotely close to as good of a thing for his body as the person lifting 60 pounds with impeccable form. Do not stress over the amount of weight you can lift. Concern yourself first and most importantly over lifting with proper form. The strength will come over time.
It’s highly advisable to hire a professional trainer to teach you proper form of exercises prior to turning yourself loose on a workout regimen. If this cannot be afforded, ask the personnel at your gym if they could recommend a skilled patron whom you can ask for some quick help. Most people are all too willing to assist someone so take advantage of this resource. Additionally, YouTube can be a strong resource for educating one’s self on proper weight-lifting technique. Use that site’s “thumbs up, thumbs down” ratings to discern between good content and garbage.
5. Over-complicating your gym experience. When it comes right down to it, exercise is pretty easy. The hard part is about showing up and exerting the energy while you’re there. The exercises themselves are rarely all that challenging. One of the ways people over-complicate dieting is by trying to turn their gym routine into a bigger deal than it is. They convince themselves that they need to invest in all sorts of equipment and supplements before they can get started. They read all the manuals and in every way possible over-complicate something that is actually quite simple.
The gym does not have to be complicated. Show up. Show up often. Do work. Go home. You can do this!