8 Common Gym Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

(Image credit: Unknown)

Warming up with just a jog

To prepare your muscles for the work they’re about to undertake, do ten minutes on the treadmill or rower, followed by a series of bodyweight squats, lunges, twists and bends. Then do one set with very light weights to truly prime your muscles for action.

Picking the wrong weight

If the weight’s too light you won’t place your muscles under enough tension to have any meaningful muscle-building effect. If it’s too heavy you won’t be able to perform the exercise with perfect form. Trial and error is the only way to find the weight that’s right for you on any given exercise, but never feel you have to stick with the wrong one just because it's the first one you chose.

Always sticking to your favourite moves

The body needs variety if it's going to keep growing muscle. Routine leads to stagnation, so consistently introduce new exercises to your workouts if you want to keep seeing positive results.

Swinging your arms too much when doing barbell curls

This will lead to back pain, not bulging biceps. You need to hold your body still, tuck in your elbows and
raise and lower the bar slowly through your elbow’s full range of motion.

Running in the ‘fat burning zone’

Have you seen those charts on running machines that say ‘fat burning zone’ and encourage you to run at below 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate? Forget them. While it’s true that at that pace a greater percentage of your calorie-burn comes from fat, you burn so few calories in total that you’d need to run for hours to get any realistic benefits. Do short, intense runs to burn fat effectively in a short space of time.

Arching your back on the bench press

The bench press is the ultimate test of upper-body strength. But if you can’t raise the bar without lifting your hips off the bench and arching your back, the weight is too heavy. You won't get anywhere until you lighten it.

Wearing a weight belt and wrist straps

Are you an Olympic weight lifter? No? Then don’t wear a lumbar belt or wrist straps when lifting. If you feel you can’t get by without them, you need to work on your core strength and grip. If you think they make you look cool and professional, you're deluded.

Doing crunches to lose belly fat

Crunches – using your stomach muscles to curl your shoulders off the floor – are great for building abs, but useless at burning away the layer of fat that obscures them. To get rid of your flabby belly you need a combination of good diet, regular cardio and all-body weight-training sessions.

Want more? Check out these Training myths

Coach Staff

Coach is a health and fitness title. This byline is used for posting sponsored content, book extracts and the like. It is also used as a placeholder for articles published a long time ago when the original author is unclear. You can find out more about this publication and find the contact details of the editorial team on the About Us page.