Archive for August, 2012

Most Common Exercise Mistakes: #2 Bad Form

Ever been to the gym and seen someone doing something that you’ve had drilled into your head as being just plain wrong. You’ve got your coach or trainer from way-back-when shouting in your head telling you what not to do? You might even have the urge to correct someone, which seems noble but doesn’t always end well.

Before you make sure other people are doing their exercises correctly, you might want to assure that you’re not making any mistakes of your own. This could avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.

For the next handful of posts, we’re going to go through a short blog series of the most common mistakes seen in the gym.

Are these things that you already know? Are you effectively putting them into good practice? Let’s find out…

#2 Bad Form

This one is a doozy. There’s a lot to cover in terms of bad form. An exercise is going to benefit you the most if you know how to do it correctly. That will require some additional research on your end.

But, in general, having good form helps with…

…avoiding injury.

Beyond just not knowing proper form for an exercise, there are some common mistakes that newer gym goers will make across the board. These include using momentum to complete full repetitions, and not taking advantage of an exercise’s full ROM.

It’s not okay to use momentum.

Some people call it body rocking, because the motion is similar to waves lapping against a boat. People will cheat by using momentum by swinging the weight, by forcing their own body weight into the exercise or by some combination of the two. An example…


By the way, props to these guys for wanting to improve themselves physically. We’re not making fun of anyone here, because developing proper form is no laughing matter.

One of the things that’s so great about lifting weights is that you have a ton of different tools at hand that allow you to isolate and improve select muscle groups. For example, the bench press majorly targets the pectorals, lateral raises will target parts of the shoulders, and bicep curls target the biceps. When you swing through an exercise you end up sending the force of the weight to all kinds of different places in your body.

When you swing through the motion the benefits of that isolation are lost, and the misdirected force can cause injury by accidentally putting extreme pressure on important joints like your lower back.

ROM stands for…

We aren’t talking computer ROMs. ROM here refers to the acronym for Range Of Motion.

Using your full range of motion during an exercise will take advantage of the full mobility of limbs and joints. Hitting the whole length of the muscle through the positive and negative motion of an exercise will give you the full benefit of that exercise.

A lot of times, you’ll see someone only doing half of a bicep curl or not going very low during a squat. While this might not be as likely to cause injury as using momentum during an exercise, it is still a common mistake.

By learning correct posture and the full depth of an exercise, you’ll see more results–faster.

That said, if you experience joint pain during an exercise while attempting full ROM, you should seek medical advice from a professional just as you would if you ever experience joint pain during any exercise.

There are no shortcuts to reaching long-term exercise goals. So keep in mind that when you cheat in your workout, you are really only cheating yourself.

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Most Common Exercise Mistakes: #1 Skipping Warm Up

Ever been to the gym and seen someone doing something that you’ve had drilled into your head as being just plain wrong? You’ve got your coach or trainer from way-back-when shouting in your head telling you what not to do. You might even have the urge to correct someone, which seems noble but doesn’t always end well.

Before you make sure other people are doing their exercises correctly, you might want to assure that you’re not making any mistakes of your own. This could avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.

For the next handful of posts, we’re going to go through a short blog series of the most common mistakes seen in the gym.

Are these things that you already know? Are you effectively putting them into good practice? Let’s find out…

#1 Skipping Warm Up

I don’t have a lot of time to work out. Why not skip the warm up and just get started?

Maybe you’re the type that has been really looking forward to exercising all day, so once you finally get to the gym you go straight for the weights and start pumping. While that’s a show of good enthusiasm, it’s misplaced enthusiasm.

The point of warming up is to alert the body to an increase in physical activity. It takes a little time for the body to adjust, and trying to push it through this adjustment can reduce the effectiveness of your workout and even result in an exercise related injury. Consider this, an injury could mean you won’t be working out that muscle group again for quite a while. Is all that time really worth skipping a five minute warm up session?

An effective warm up will…

  • Increase the heart rate and breathing to increase the amount of oxygen and essential nutrients to muscle tissue.
  • Remove waste products from muscle tissue to improve muscular flexibility.
  • Alert the nervous system to improve reaction time and coordination.

Preparing your muscles to be more pliable, have better reaction time and be more effectively fueled is an enormous advantage when you have a limited amount of time to work out. In general, it can give you the edge you need to see yourself reaching long term goals faster than you otherwise would.

But there’s more to this gym faux pas than meets the eye. It may be a common mistake for people to shrug off the warm up altogether, but it’s almost just as common for people to work out the wrong muscle groups.

For example, have you ever seen someone jump on the treadmill for five minutes right before obliterating their pectorals on the bench press?

Yes the treadmill is going to increase your heart rate and breathing, which is a good thing. But running will misinform the legs that they need to get ready to work out, without ever telling your chest that it’s about to be pulverized. If this is going to be an important chest day for you, you need to let your chest know about that ahead of time.

In terms of how to warm up your chest, all you need to do is put light intensity stress on that muscle group. This could be in the form of just lifting some small dumbbells over a long period of time. Or you could go for a light intensity inclined push up. Just make sure not to even approach the point of exhaustion. Keep the intensity light, and you should be fine. This same principle applies to any muscle group when warming up for your work out.

Oh, and don’t forget about stretching.

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Get Up & Go

Wake Up and Work Out

We all know at least one of those fitness monsters. You know those people who are up at the crack of dawn pumping the weights and pounding out the miles. To the rest of us, this kind of person can come off as being more like a machine than a living, breathing human being. It’s hard to get up early when you’re not going to be exercising, so the thought of willfully dragging yourself out of bed at some ungodly hour to work out can be a good incentive to sleep in even longer than you normally would.

So, how is it that so many healthy people get up so early, and why are they doing it?

There are multiple benefits to making a morning workout part of your regular routine. One major benefit is that it gets easier to wake up and work out in the morning, and that it prepares you for the whole day ahead of you. The more consistent you are about morning exercise, the more positively your body will respond in kind.

You might not believe me, but…

It’s Worth It. Here’s Why.

Rigorous activity during the early hours of the day will kickstart your metabolism and keep you going like the Energizer Bunny. It also improves mental acuity. As a result, your productivity and the quality of your work could drastically improve throughout the day.

People who really commit to this and stay consistent experience a general boost in energy levels. Having any kind of routine gives the body time to adjust to physical changes, and can increase general comfort. Making your morning exercise a part of your regular routine keeps your sleep cycle at a healthy and consistent rhythm. This will also increase the quality of the sleep that you’re already getting. And higher quality of sleep will mean that you need to sleep less to feel well rested.

You see how staying consistent and getting your body through the adjustment period can be a major benefit?

If you’re worried about consistency, maybe you shouldn’t be. Research shows that early risers have a better chance of sticking to their routines and actually hitting the gyms. Planning on exercising later in the day grants more opportunity for you to get distracted or forced to change your plans. Just get it out of the way early and this won’t be an issue.

Of couse, there’s also the benefit of less traffic in the gyms during morning hours. If you’re the type who likes to get in, get it done and do it right without other people getting in your way, this should be a serious factor for you. Morning gym traffic tends to be more laid back, because fewer people are willing to make the commitment to get up early that you would be making.

Getting started can be the hardest part. It’s sort of like plunging into cold water. It takes time to adjust. But once you’ve developed a routine, it really does get easier. With a healthier lifestyle in play, you’ll find yourself both looking and feeling better.

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