When it comes to working out we know that getting to the gym is half the battle. Which means once you successfully drag yourself there, unpack your bag, and get dressed, you want to ensure you're making the most out of your time. Because if you're not doing your workout properly, then, really, what's the point?
From skipping your warmup or cool down to avoiding the weight room, chances are you're making a few common mistakes at the gym. Which one are you guilty of?
1. Skipping a Warmup and/or Cool Down
You get to the gym and immediately hop on the treadmill. Once you're finished with your run, you hop off and head to the showers. Sound familiar? When we're short on time, skipping the warmup or cool down -- or both -- is pretty common. You basically want to get to the "meat and potatoes" of the workout and get it over with. However, skipping your warmup and cool down sessions aren't helping your performance; in fact, it's probably slowly hindering it.
A five- to ten-minute warmup gently prepares your body for exercise by slowly increasing your heart rate and circulation, and helps loosen the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps prevent injury. Even doing five minutes of dynamic stretching or a brisk walk on the treadmill is sufficient.
Cooling down doesn't have to be super complicated, either. You need only five to ten minutes to stretch the muscles you just used. Hold each stretch for ten to 30 seconds, or until you "feel" the stretch. Cooling down helps slow the heart rate as well as reduces muscle soreness and helps to speed up the recovery process. So you can get back to the gym faster.
2. You Avoid the Weight Room
Primarily women avoid the weight room at a gym like the plague, opting to hit up the cardio machines instead. But don't let bulky men or the fear of becoming bulky like those men stop you from lifting.
While cardio is great for improving our cardiorespiratory health, strength training increases metabolism and burns more calories for longer after our workouts, even at rest.
As for the fear of being "bulky"? Put that fear to rest once and for all. It's a total myth that women will bulk up if they add weight training to their program. Women don't have the testosterone needed to achieve those big muscles, and most of us will not eat like a bodybuilder. So relax, and get lifting!
3. You're Not Using Proper Form
Not using the correct technique while on machines or while using weights will not only impede your training progress, but it can also be dangerous. For example, maybe you're not using the stationary bike's tension properly or you're trying to lift weights too quickly or with too heavy weights. In either scenario, you could be setting yourself up for injury.
When in doubt, ask a professional at your gym. Don't be afraid to look "dumb." Everyone has to start somewhere, and it's in your best interest to ask questions. You'll get more out of your workout -- and you won't hurt yourself.
Simple mistakes like the ones listed above can lead to big injuries, which will take your workout progress ten steps back. By committing to a warmup and cool down, adding strength training to your program, and staying on top of your form, you'll not only be preventing yourself from major pains, but you'll also see more results from your training.
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