Hitting the gym should be something that you look forward to. It’s an opportunity to relieve stress, meet new people, and best of all get in shape. Everyone wants to look and feel their best, and the gym is a great place to start. With all the various equipment and styles of training, also comes plenty of opportunity for mistakes. If you don’t use the gym properly you’ll find yourself frustrated, without results, or injured. Here are the 10 things you absolutely must avoid doing at the gym if you want to be successful.
1. Never Workout Without A Dynamic Warm-up First
Before you start any type of workout you have to prepare your muscles to work. That involves increasing the temperature of muscles and preparing the neuromuscular connection to fire rapidly. Dynamic stretching is one of the main ways to avoid injury during exercise and athletics. Studies show that dynamic stretching prepares your muscles to produce power better than static stretching
2. Don’t Lift Heavy Weights Alone
Have you heard of the “Buddy System” before? Ya, well that’s basically what you should always do when you plan on lifting heavy weights. A good workout buddy should always be your spotter. Part of a spotter’s job is to keep you safe by making sure you’re using correct form. When you’re struggling with the weight it doesn’t hurt to have someone there motivating you too. Having a workout buddy makes the workout more fun and efficient.
3. Never Workout With A Full Belly
If you plan on training within an hour of a big meal your stomach may not be happy with you. It may cause ingestion like bloating, nausea, gas, or diarrhea. If you are planning on working hard for an hour or more it’s important to have energy, but you have to give your body about 2 hours to digest it. You can work out on an empty stomach, for example early in the morning before breakfast. Medium intensity cardio is the best form of exercise to do on an empty stomach. It burns more fat, probably because glycogen stores are low.
4. Don’t Only Do Cardio
Don’t be that person that comes to the gym every day to use that same cardio machine, and then leaves. That will take you nowhere in a hurry! You’re missing out on a whole different aspect of training, which is using weights. Women tend to violate this a lot either because they think they will get masculine muscles, which isn’t true. There a ton of reasons why women should lift weights, along with everyone else.
Weight lifting tends to use a higher ratio of fat as an energy source. If you lift at an intense level with little rest time in between each set, then you will burn just as many calories as a cardio session. A long bout of cardio is great for exercising your heart, but don’t miss out on the muscle toning and fat burning effects of resistance training.
5. Never Forget The Proper Gear
Dressing properly can effect how you workout, and your safety. Always have close-toed shoes in the gym. It protects your feet from stubbing your toes or weights that could possibly fall on them. If you are planning an athletic workout it’s also pretty hard to move without the right shoes.
I’ve always found it helpful to keep a filled gym bag in my car with literally anything I might possibly need. You don’t even have to bring it into the gym every day, but if you have it out in your car it’s easily accessible. Some absolutes that you should always have are a change of athletic clothes, training shoes, a supplement shaker, and a towel.
6. Never Rely Too Much On Machines
Resistance machines have their place in an effective workout routine, but they should absolutely not be the main focus. If the bulk of your workout is done on machines every day, you may not be getting the best results. Machines work in a set range of motion, therefore there is less activation of the core muscles and stabilizer muscles.
Free weights force you to use your core and stability to control them. When more muscles are involved, that means you will gain more strength and burn more calories. They are much more versatile as well, so it’s smart to use them for your main lifts.
7. Never Rush Through Exercises
Rushing through exercises will not do you any good. People who rush through exercises without going through a full range of motion only defeat the purpose of the exercise. To ensure the effectiveness of your workout, focus on every repetition. Make sure your form is correct and consciously feel the muscles working where they should. Going slow on resistance exercises makes your muscles work harder. There are a time and place for speed and explosiveness. If you are doing an explosive movement then use speed and power, but that still doesn’t mean that you have to rush to the next rep.
8. Don’t Train Without Hydrating Yourself
Water has some incredible health benefits. The body needs water to function properly, especially at intense levels of training. The most efficient way to always make sure you have enough water is to bring a gallon jug with you. You can add flavor to the water as well, which will make it slightly easier to drink.
9. Never Do A Hard Workout Without Refueling Afterwards
After a tough workout, your muscles will be depleted and in a catabolic state. That means your body will start to break its own tissue down for energy. You don’t want to lose lean muscle mass so you have to intake lots of carbs and protein, ideally within 30 minutes of a workout. Chocolate milk has an optimal ratio of carbs and proteins for recovery. Protein supplements are effective and practical, but you want to make sure that the sugar content is low. The absolute best way to refuel your body is with an actual meal.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
If you don’t know how to use something, or you need a spot on your last set, don’t be afraid to ask someone. I spend a lot of time in the gym and I have almost never seen anyone say no when they were asked for assistance. Usually, people in the gym are there for a common purpose and are glad to help each other out. Utilize your resources.