About Community Posts
In order to promote community participation, open debate, and facilitate the sharing of fitness-related news, Active Life DC allows members of the local fitness community to contribute posts. We do not vet these posts, and the opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Active Life DC. More information can be found in our Terms of Service. For information on how you can submit a post, visit this page.
We see mistakes being made in the gym on a daily basis that make me cringe for several reasons. Most concerning, some of these mistakes leave a large potential window open for injury, where other oversights hinder one’s ability to reach their goals and train efficiently. If you are looking for ways to make your workouts more effective and productive, here are 5 common mistakes made at the gym and how to correct them.
#1 Holding on To The Treadmill
This is a big one we see all the time, especially when the treadmill is on an incline that is too high or at a speed that is moving too fast people will hold on to the handrails, or hug the display screen. In fact, this makes the exercise easier, which is usually why people revert to this.
If the treadmill is at a speed that is too fast or an incline that is too difficult so that you feel the need to hold on for stability to make it easier, simply lessen the speed or lower the incline to something more manageable. This way you will work to improve your stability and balance. Work your way towards your goal little by little, without holding on the treadmill.
#2 Shortened Range of Motion
This is another big one we see all the time in the gym, people moving through a shortened range of motion with exercises. What do we mean by this? When we say a shortened range of motion, we’re referring to the starting and stopping points of an exercise being shortened. This applies to quarter squats, half pushups, bicep curls that don’t begin with a straight arm, lat pull-downs stopping before the bar reaches the chest, and so on and so forth. Unless you are rehabbing an injury, training in a shortened range of motion specifically, or have a limiting condition or current injury that prohibits you from going through the full range of motion, you are ultimately cheating yourself and potentially placing your body in an injury prone position.
Given that work = force x distance, moving through a shortened range of movement simply makes the exercise easier. Additionally, as mentioned previously, traveling through a shorter distance can potentially put more stress on your body and joints. For example, quarter squats place more stress and shearing force on the knees when not performed in a full range of motion.
To gain the full benefits of all exercises and not just the ones mentioned above, make sure you are going through the full range of motion with each exercise, from the starting position to the stopping position. If you aren’t sure what the full range of motion is for each exercise, simply ask or enlist the help of a qualified personal trainer or coach.
#3 Improper Form
This ties into the above with shortened range of motion, improper form. The most concerning effect of improper form is the potential risk for significant injury. We really can’t stress enough how worrisome it is to see someone lean too forward in a squat, placing a huge stress on the back, or significantly round the back while performing a deadlift or bent over row. Repetitive improper form can potentially lead to major muscle pulls, slipped disks, and other damage. Not only are you increasing the risk for injury by performing the exercise with incorrect form, you are not getting the benefit of the true exercise.
Proper form takes a significant amount of practice and a good coach or trainer. Don’t try to learn the correct way to perform an exercise by watching your neighbor at the gym. Instead hire a professional, educated, and seasoned personal trainer to teach and guide you through the major movements and how to correctly execute them. By using proper form with all exercises, you are gaining the true benefits of the individual exercise as well as lessening your risk for injury.
#4 Too Much Cardio, Not Enough Weights
Not surprisingly, the cardio machines are always full at the gym. Cardio does have its place in workouts, and the intensity and duration are all dependent on the goal. However, many people skip the weights all together and solely focus on cardio. Regardless of the goal, weight lifting is important for everyone for various reasons. It can help to build muscle and strength and burn unwanted fat, build bone density, strengthen muscles that often get neglected and lessen the chance for potential injury. Obviously, these are just a few examples of the importance of weight training.
Incorporate a balanced weight routine to work along side with your cardio training. To make sure you are following an efficient and safe program, enlist the help of a personal trainer or coach to help you work with weights and help you design a few workouts to do on your own. The right trainer can not only help you to incorporate weights into your training, but as mentioned above, can safely teach and guide your through proper form and technique. If done correctly, adding weights into your routine and shifting away from only doing cardio will help you reach your goals more quickly and efficiently, and leave you with a stronger, healthier, and more appealing physique.
#5 Too Much Small Talk, Not Enough Work
This one goes without much explanation. Work hard while you are at the gym, focus on why you are there, and optimize your time by cutting the small talk. If you don’t workout with headphones and are training alone, get a pair, they will help with people approaching you to chat. Leave the cellphone at home, put in your headphones, avoid the social temptations, get in, get it done, and get out. By focusing more on yourself and less on others, you will not only have more efficient workouts, but you will get your workout done more quickly and have more time for yourself and your family.