5 common mistakes you make at the Gym

Now that you have taken your new year’s resolution to the next stage, it’s time to re-look into the fundamentals that you may have overlooked or never gave a second thought about. For most of us in the beginner stage of this lifestyle, this means having to iron out certain ‘wrong’ practices right from the start, so as to not follow down a path that cannot be undone in the future. Below are 5 common mistakes that I’ve seen many folks committing even till today.
1. Doing the wrong type of stretch before warm up

A very common phenomenon that we would have gone through in our early days in school; to stretch those muscles at the start of a physical activity like P.E. lessons. But are we doing the right form of stretching to achieve the desired results?

There are several types of stretching, and the most common one being static stretching (active). That’s where you lie in the corner of a gym and defy tensions and pull your muscle into the stretch in the hopes of ‘warming it up’. However trying to achieve that kind of stretch before your cardio may be a one-way ticket to injury.

Imagine opening a packet of raw spaghetti and trying to bend it in different directions. As opposed to boiling it and then getting it all bendy and flexible. It’s exactly the same concept; you need to warm your muscles up before attempting to lengthen them. Look into dynamic stretching instead, or some myofascial release (foam rolling) to achieve the same outcome as your active stretch. You can keep the static stretches for after the workout instead to reduce the post-workout muscle fatigue and soreness.
2. Skipping warm up entirely

This is where many culprits emerge; overly enthusiastic folks who walk right in and into the gym floor thus skipping their warm up entirely. There are numerous reasons as to why you need to focus on this segment. Heating up the core, promoting blood flow through the whole body, lengthening the muscles, and the list goes on. Hop on the spinning bike or take an uphill walk on the treadmill.

For the more advanced, focus on foam rolling and mobility drills, to prepare you for the onslaught ahead. Warming up also includes doing a few ‘starting’ sets on every resistance exercise with a lighter weight, just to introduce the required muscles to the heavier movement ahead. Throw in a few of those sets before starting your first working set. Injuries can be prevented if the ‘start’ phase of every workout is equally attended to.
3. Focusing only on cardio and neglecting resistance training.

Many of you are guilty of this and im sure you know who you are. Staying at the cardio area throughout the entire duration of the ‘workout’ and not even moving the bench around on the gym floor. For the belief that cardio alone is enough to grill those stubborn fats, and for the fear of putting on Hulk muscles especially for the ladies.

Firstly, depending on cardio alone isn’t going to bring you far; it takes two hands to clap. You need to have an equal go at resistance training. And I don’t mean only dumbbells or barbells; basic body weight conditioning like push ups, planks and pull ups can do the trick as well. And ladies, you should never fear putting on muscles because unlike men, women do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to pile on the mass. Walk into a gym and nearly all the women you’ll spot are lean, toned and strong. Not massive. I can confidently say that all my female clients are more eager than my male clients to hit the weights and not just depend on cardio!
4. Thinking that crunches alone can build abs.

A common misconception that crunches alone are enough to build abs, let alone strengthen the core. You had a solid workout out, and saved some muscle juice to squeeze out a few crunches to build and solidify those abs. But abs are not built by crunches alone. Besides shredding away those abdominal fat, you need to choose the right kind of exercises, and do it at the right times during a workout.

Work on the compound movements, supplement it with some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and then dish out some planks, pikes and push-ups. There are an abundance of ab-building core strengthening routines and exercises all over the internet. Or consult a trainer and shoot him/her with the necessary questions. Don’t just rely on that one basic crunch that may not even serve its intended purpose.

Remember, your time in the gym is precious so you would want to be hitting the right notes and not wasting time on hear-say.
5. Spending too much time in the gym.

“The more time you spend working out, the more you’ll gain and benefit.” Believe me if I tell you that ive heard this from so many enthusiastic gym goers. Some for as long as up to 3 hours. Unless you’re working in a gym, you should be keeping your workout short and sharp. Your body is not a machine; it has a threshold that you need to adhere to.

Anything more and you become unproductive. Ideally, a work out should be between 45mins to 90mins. Advanced lifters or professional sportsmen/women may have varying training durations but if you do not fall in either category, stick to the template above.

You could even have a quick but intense workout that’s as short as 20mins, known as HIIT training. Head in with a plan, focus on your own training, and finish off to your best ability. Get in and get out.
There you have it; 5 common mistakes people often make in the gym. It’s ok if you’re guilty of one, if not all of them. You learn, and you progress. It’s only human to err, so worry not and make amendments along the way!

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