We all have good intentions when we head to the gym, but certain workout mistakes can lead to wasting time, not getting the results you want, and even injury. To help you avoid bad workouts, we have compiled a list of the most common workout mistakes people make and how to avoid them.
1. Putting it off until tomorrow
This might seem like common sense, but actually getting to the gym can oftentimes be the hardest part of a workout. It’s easy to come up with excuses – it’s too cold out, you have too much to do, you’ll have more energy tomorrow, or anything else you can think of to keep from exercising.
How can you motivate yourself to go to the gym? Find a way to hold yourself accountable!
- Bring your gym bag to work so you don’t have a chance to go home and get comfortable.
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to hit the gym.
- Post your plan to workout on your social media so you feel obligated to go.
- Get a gym buddy who won’t take “no” for an answer.
These are all great suggestions, but it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you, and stick with it!
2. Forgetting to stretch and warm up
Warming up before a workout is one of the best ways to avoid injury, not to mention the boost it will give to your workout. Start with a slow jog or fast walk to get your heart rate up followed by some dynamic stretches like lunges, arm circles and high knees (see picture). A few minutes stretching is all it takes to improve your time at the gym!
3. Not drinking enough water
The human body is comprised of about 60% water. That being said, it is important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. According to the American College of Sports medicine, many people don’t feel thirsty until it’s too late and they are already dehydrated. Water helps all of your organs function better, including distributing oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which means a better workout and better results. So drink up!
4. Using bad form
Exercising with bad form means that you are not getting the most out of your workout, and increases your chances of injury. Working out in front of a mirror is one way to keep your form in check. It is better to start slow with fewer reps and weight and build up a strong foundation with the correct form, then to quickly burn through exercises in bad form.
Another way to make sure you are using the correct form is to get a wellness coach. Many places (including the Lafayette Family YMCA!) offer free consultations and help with our wellness coaches on staff. They are here to answer your questions and get the most out of your workout!
5. Repeating the same routine over and over and over
Many people find comfort in repetition, but repeating the same workout routine will lead to a plateau in your workout, and might mean that you are not getting the full-body benefits of a good workout. Switch up your routine by trying a new class, or working at a different machine or targeting a new muscle group. If you need suggestions for new exercises, the internet is a great source, along with the Lafayette Family YMCA group class schedule! Our wellness coaches are always available for advice and suggestions as well!
6. Unhealthy eating habits
As much as we would like to think that a great workout will cancel out the burger and fries from yesterday, that is simply not the case. Being healthy is a combination of exercise and diet. Instead of a burger and fries, aim for foods that are high in fiber and protein to help your muscles recover after a workout. (Although there’s nothing wrong with a burger every once in awhile)
7. Setting Unrealistic Goals
Did you know that a pound of muscle is about 18% more dense (takes up less space) than fat? However, a pound of muscle stills weighs as much as a pound of fat. As you gain muscle at the gym, you might not be losing weight, which means the scale is not always the best indicator of your progress. We suggest that, in addition to the scale, try measuring the distance your are able to cover, the amount of weights you are able to lift, along with your heartbeat, cholesterol, and blood pressure. These methods can be much better indicators of your progress and realistic goals to reach. Before you know it you’ll be seeing results!
What is important to remember is that change does not happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged if you do not see an immediate change. Keep working hard, avoid these common workout mistakes, and you will feel the results soon enough!