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.