Deafened by the clanking of metal weights and intimidated by the sight of mirrored walls, it’s easy for first-time visitors to gyms to make mistakes concerning their fitness routine.
These mistakes can result in you not reaching your fitness goals and sometimes can lead to unnecessary injuries. Here are ten mistakes you really should try to avoid to make.
- Training too much - Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your new body. People who are new to the gym, and people who work out every day, should not go flat out in the gym seven days a week. Doing so would give your body insufficient recovery time and lead to injury.
And give yourself some breathing space between each activity you do in the gym – even boxers have a one-minute rest between three-minute rounds!
- Training too little - This is equally important – whatever your fitness goal you are going to have to put in the hard yards. If you don’t want to spend too long in the gym – perhaps you are freaked out by all those poseurs who hog the mirrors – then work smart and have a high-intensity session.
Time those recovery bouts between activities so that you aren’t aimlessly wasting time between exercises and you will find you can go home earlier.
- Not knowing your limitations - When waiting your turn behind the gym’s heaviest weightlifter, ignore the temptation to keep the pin in the same place. Choosing a lower weight might seem a little socially embarrassing but remember that you are competing against yourself not against someone else.
It’s more embarrassing to be helped from the gym because you have chosen an activity which is beyond your capabilities.
- Always going solo - Having said that, it can be fun to have a bit of friendly competition. Buddy up with a friend you know from your work or social life – it’s best not to just randomly ask someone in the changing room – and you can get more out of your fitness regime.
Taking it in turns to play Burgess Meredith to your gym buddy’s Rocky (and vice-versa) can spur you on that extra mile in the gym!
- Ignoring your body - If every limb aches and creaks then perhaps it is time to sit out a gym session. Everyone needs a rest every so often – it’s why every Premier League club has a squad rotation policy.
If you’re at home watching the football instead of at the gym just think of yourself as being Frank Lampard kicking his heels on the substitutes’ bench.
- Sticking to the old routine - You’ve got to have variety in your life haven’t you – even if it’s varying the route you take while walking to work. Varying the machines you use, the exercises you do and even the order of your fitness programme will keep you on your toes and keep your exercise routines feeling fresh and vital.
- Working through a cold - Ex-boxer Chris Eubank once said that the best way to shift a heavy cold was to go for a long run. This is not good advice – when your immune system is depleted the gym is the last place you should be.
- Putting all your eggs in one basket - Stop to think whether your exercise routine is over-using certain parts of your body and neglecting the rest. The most common example of this is focussing on exercises which build up muscle on the upper part of the body and ignoring the lower part.
If you want to see an example of an athlete who was guilty of doing this then take a look at David Beckham in action at the 2004 European Championships. Beckham’s time in the gym resulted in a honed and toned torso but his legs in comparison looked as though they belonged on his wife Victoria. This out-of-balance body meant his legs felt dead throughout the tournament – try and avoid the same mistake.
- Sticking to what you love - If you love one gym machine above all others then it could be a sign that it is not testing you enough. Pick a machine which you are struggling on and you will improve the weaker parts of your body.
- Not asking an expert - And finally, whatever you do down the gym, don’t be afraid to ask the advice of a gym instructor – they’re not just there to chew gum and look intimidating behind the desk you know!