Hitting the gym for a workout on your own appeals to people who are independent and intrinsically motivated. You may not need the encouragement of a personal trainer or group teacher, but those pros are also there to point out what you are doing right--and more important--what you're doing wrong. Without this guidance, it can be easy to make mistakes and adopt the ill-informed errors as part of your regular routine.
These workout mistakes can lead to minor injuries that can ruin a workout, or worse, major problems that keep you out of the gym for weeks or months. Learn how to avoid mistakes so you can crush it like a boss.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
- Poor Form – The number one mistake trainers see is bad form. Holding your body incorrectly, especially while strength training, can decrease its positive effects. Moreover, it can be downright dangerous. To make sure you have proper form, use the mirrors in your gym (that’s why they are there). If you can’t maintain good form while lifting weights, they’re probably too heavy. You may also want to hire a personal trainer for a session or two and ask them to tell you where your form could use some work.
- Saving Core for the End – Yes, core exercises are the most difficult and many people put them off until the last leg of their workout. But by doing so, you’re likely to give a sloppy, half-hearted effort. Core exercises are the most important part of your workout. Do them early in your routine instead to get the most out of them - and to get them out of the way.
- Too Much Repetition Repetition Repetition – Many people who work out on their own fall into a rut using machines that feel familiar and moves they already know. Your workout will become more boring by the day, and your body will get used to the routine – and you’ll stop seeing the results you desire. Instead, switch up your reps, moves, and machines at least every month.
- Improper Machine Adjustment – All those hulking machines with wires, weights, and levers can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to the gym. But it’s essential that you get familiar with the machines that you will be using, because most of them should be adjusted to fit your height and body size. Ask a gym employee for help if you don’t know what to do.
- Skipping Stretching – If you’re like most people, you sit for a large part of your day. It’s essential that you stretch out your muscles before you start wailing on them. Take a few moments to stretch the muscle groups that support your neck, back, shoulders, and hips.
- Wimpy Warmups – Warming up properly amps up your circulation, raises your heart rate, and signals to your nervous system that it’s time to get down. And your body will respond by preparing for a workout, which protects you from injury and increases your overall ability. A good warm-up includes a few dynamic, body-weight moves (like walking lunges or squats) plus a few minutes of cardio to wake up your heart rate.
- Doing Cardio First – Although you want to warm up with a little cardio, don’t complete your whole half hour before you switch to lifting. You need that energy to focus, push, and get the most out of your strength training. Get the hard part done first, and then finish up with your cardio.
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