The gym can be a scary and intimidating place, so when you find a machine that you’re comfortable with it’s often tempting to use it as much as possible. However, this will hinder your progress. You might enjoy a few weeks or even months of pound shedding and muscle building, but eventually this repetition will be your downfall as your body adapts to it and starts to burn less energy. A study carried out at Curtin University found that mixing up your workouts not only helps you burn fat and develop muscle more efficiently, it also helps to ward off muscle inflammation.
How many times have you heard someone telling you to ‘push through the pain barrier’ in the gym? Probably all too often. A little bit of discomfort is to be expected when you’re putting your body through a high intensity workout. But sharp stabbing pains that don’t go away aren’t. If you do suffer an injury at the gym, you need to accept that the fastest route to recovery is to rest the affected area. Tearing a muscle and then putting it through the strain of lifting weights isn’t going to result in any fitness benefits, and could seriously delay your recovery.
Seeing that calorie counter shoot up as you pound the treadmill is always a great mood boost in the gym, but can it really be trusted? Not if a study carried out at Stanford University is to be believed. While treadmills attempt to give an accurate reading for calories burned, the huge range of determining factors means this is nearly impossible. For example, the study found that using the handrails on treadmills can reduce the amount of calories burned by up to 50 per cent without this change being reflected on the counter. If you base your meals throughout the day on this incorrect calorie count, you could gain unwanted weight.
Did you know one in three people don’t even break a sweat during their gym workout? According to a survey commissioned by sports equipment company Kettler, lots of people who go to the gym are more interested in chatting to their friends, relaxing in the spa, or ogling the opposite sex. One in 20 even said they just go to watch sports on the TVs! Gyms are full of distractions, and some of them might be keeping you from maximising your workout. Allocate a time slot after your workout to catch up with your gym buddies and relax in the spa, and make sure your workout time is completely uninterrupted.
Using a piece of gym equipment correctly will ensure your muscles go through the full range of motion, lead to noticeable benefits and keep you and the people around you in the gym safe. Using the equipment incorrectly will have the exact opposite effect. Aside from hindering your progress, incorrect technique can actually lead to injuries and permanent damage to your muscles. Don’t use the machines in the way that seems easiest, or the way your friend showed you how to do them – check with a professional personal trainer that your technique is spot on so that you know you’re getting the maximum benefit from your workout.
Everyone’s body is different, and what works for others might not work for you. Copying other people’s routines in the gym can be highly dangerous, especially if they’re at a higher fitness level than you. Just because that ripped guy who is in the gym every day lifts a certain weight, it doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the same results if you try to lift it. Sorry guys, but this one area where you’re particularly guilty – of the million Americans who suffered weight training injuries between 1990 and 2007, 82 per cent were men who had been lifting weights that were too heavy for them according to research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
How you warm up can make or break your workout before you’ve even got started. While many people simply try a bit of light cardiovascular activity to warm up, according to expert trainer Lee Archer your warm up should be specific to your workout for maximum benefits. For example, try using the rowing machine to warm up your upper body before a weights session. Even worse is not warming up at all. A study carried out at La Trobe University in Melbourne found that warming up not only prevents injuries, but also increases the maximum power a muscle can produce during exercise.