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Common Workout Mistakes People Make in the Gym E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA and Lynn Glenn   

Millions of gym_mistakespeople go to a gym each year to work out, with the desire to make improvements to their physique. However a majority of these people make some very common mistakes in the gym that prevent them from reaching their fitness goals.

While some of the common mistakes in the gym may be minor, many of them can not only hinder progress a bit, but they can also cause injuries.

The following are some of the most common workout mistakes we have seen in gyms across the world. Are you guilty of any of these common workout mistakes in the gym?

Top Weight Training Errors 

No warm-up. Muscles don't stretch or contract fully until warmed. Expecting them to do so without preparing them two women stretchingsets you up for tears and pulls. If you want to stay injury free, your body absolutely must warm up properly. Do something to gently increase the temperature of your muscles - walk a few minutes very easy on the treadmill or do a set of reps on the machines at a very low weight. 

Not stretching. When you don't stretch, your body loses flexibility. Good flexibility not only increases athletic performance but also plays an important role in helping you stay injury free.

Not stretching enough. Whether you're exercising aerobically or lifting weights, warm up first, then stretch.

Weekend Warrior Mentality. If you've skipped several workouts, don't try to make up for lost time in one session. You're only setting yourself up for soreness and possible injury. weekend_warrior

Lack of intensity. While you don't want to push yourself too hard, especially if you're just starting an exercise program, you do need to work intensely enough to get results. If you do not train with intensity you will limit your gains. Finding the right intensity takes some experience. However, it doe not take experience to know if you are not working out hard enough. Make sure you are working out hard, which means not taking too much rest between sets and exercises. it also means working each rep to failure (or at least close to it) and using weights that are challenging. You should not be able to laugh and chat while in the middle of a set. You should concentrate on the form and on squeezing each muscle for a full contraction.     

Spending more than 1 hour weight training in the gym. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder it should not take you more than 1 hour to complete your workout. If it does you are either (1) moving too slow or (2) doing too much in one workout.  Tips: Workout 1 big body part and 1 small body part per workout (like back and biceps). Complete no more than 3 to 5 exercises per body part, 3 to 4 sets per exercise.  Take no more than 1 to 2 minutes break between sets.

You do too many workouts. The fastest way to derail your long term gains in the gym is to overtrain. When you overtrain you end up breaking down your body faster than it can repair itself. ‘When I train my clients I go for three or four sessions in the gym a week with three days off within that,' says Los Angeles based trainer Jeff Behar. ‘When you rest is when you grow, and people don't realize how long they have to rest. Listen to your body and if a muscle is aching don't work it until it stops.

Talking too much in the gym.  If you're at the gym to makesocializing_at_the_gym progress, cut down on the talking and focus on your workout. If you are there to socialize try to chat before and after your workout and keep conversations to a minimum during your workout. Your workouts will be more intense, you will make better gains and you'll spend less time at the gym. 

Not challenging yourself with progressive resistance. There are many lifters that grow stagnate in muscle growth by completing the same exercise and/or with using the same amount of weight. If you want progressive muscle growth results, you must keep challenging yourself. There are two ways in doing this, one is to mix up your routine which keeps your muscles guessing about what is coming next. The other is, keep progressively adding weight to keep challenging your muscle fibers. With doing both of these suggestions, you will not only see better results but it will keep your workouts fresh and from becoming boring.

Having no set goals. Exercise is enjoyable for its own sake. But once the high of bashing out monster reps on the bench press wears off it can seem a bit pointless. Keep short-term and long-term goals in mind to keep you motivated, and chart your progress.

Exercising too hard. High Intensity in the gym is good, but not all the time. What we are talking about here when we refer to high intensity training is employing training methods techniques, like high intensity interval training (HIIT)  and other advanced training techniques routinely. Using these techniques too often can result in overtraining, less gains, slower recovery and possible injury. All things that you do NOT want in the first place. Remember, less can mean more if you train, eat and sleep correctly. Slow and steady wins the race!

Using too heavy of a weight. More is not always better. To avoid possible injuries, make sure that you use the coheavy_leg_pressrrect weight that will allow you to use proper form and full range of motion. Using too heavy of a weight can lead to poor form, and possible an injury.  An appropriate weight is one that can be properly controlled at the correct speed for the correct number of reps, without breaking form.

Using too light of a weight. If the weight is too light, you will limit your gains. If you can do more than 12 reps, it's too light and you need to add a little. Add enough weight that will again allow you to only get eight reps.

Using an incorrect speed. When you use an incorrect speed, like performing repetitions too fast, you are using momentum to lift the weight providing for less muscle fiber to be worked, thus creating less muscle growth. By using incorrect speed you will also be open for a possible injury by not controlling the weight. The slower the movement, the more controlled it is and the less likely you'll get hurt from it. Your muscles will definitely be working more with controlled weight instead of depending upon momentum.

Sticking with the same workout. We all tend to repeat the things we like doing, so it's no wonder that once we find a workout that suits us we stick to it. The best way to not make improvements in the gym is to not change your workout. Change can be done in a variety of ways, including but not limited to (1) order of exercises (2) types of exercises (3) amount of weight used (4) number of reps used (5) types of exercises used (dumbbell vs. barbell, cable vs. machine, etc.). Consider major changes to your workout program after four to six weeks, to avoid a pattern where you stop producing results because your body has hit a plateau. Besides changing your workout, mix up your training by cross training - try circuit training or high intensity (HIT) training once a week.

Copying the hardcore gym members. It's easy to think getting as ripped as the hard core gym members, you simply have to follow their lead. Don't just copy someone when you see them lifting heavy weights or using a certain technique. The problem is without knowing what someone elses fitness aims are, copying them could land you with unexpected results or an injury. The best solution is to do your homework before you hit the gym and know what is best for you.

Working out every day. Working out every day is not sustainable - either physically or mentally. If you workout everyday you won't be able to maintain a useful intensity and you'll get bored. Weight training can then become a chore and you might lose motivation. Incorporate proper rest days into your schedule. This will help you recover and increase long term results.

Never taking a break. Never taking a break can lead to overtraining and potential burnout. If your training is getting stale and you're not getting anywhere, these are signs of overtraining. If you see signs of overtraining take a break - but do it properly and take a couple of weeks off. It gives you what you need for a total recovery of your body and your mind. The gym will be there when you get back and you will be revitalized

Skipping body parts. How many times have you seen top heavy bodybuilders strutting around with hefty shoulders on skimpy little legs? Choosing to work only a few muscles not only gives the body an unbalanced appearance, but sets it up for problems later through muscle imbalances. When some muscles are worked and others ignored, muscle imbalance then occurs which can cause eventual injury from everyday activities.

Always balance your workouts. For example, if you work on your quads make sure you also work on your hamstrings. The worst thing you can do for your legs is to have unbalanced strength. If hamstrings are not trained equally with quads they will be the weaker of the leg muscles and will be susceptible to being torn when running, climbing or even walking and you can also sustain lower back injuries as well.

Another example of a balance workout are abs and lower back. Lower back exercises are just as important as ab exercises. Failure to work one and you will create a muscle imbalance that can result in a weak lower back and potential lower back injuries.  Working the core completely, which means including your stomach muscles will improve posture, reduce the risk for back injury,  and can also increases speed, increase strength and improve sports performance.

Make sure to work out all of your muscle groups to ensure the correct development of your entire body. If you aren't sure how to do so, look for an exercise chart most clubs post or spend at least one session with a personal trainer.

Training supporting muscles before target muscles. You do NOT want to train the smaller supporting (secondary muscles) before the target muscle. Supporting muscles help lift the weight use for the target muscle's growth. If supporting muscles are fatigue you will not be able to lift as much weight needed to develop the larger target muscle. An example would working triceps before chest; or working out biceps before back.

Working upper abs before working lower abs. The reason you do NOT want to work the upper abs before the lower, is because the lower ab muscles are smaller, weaker and less developed than the upper ab muscles. If you train the upper ab muscles first, as most people do with crunches or sit-ups, then you will be too tired to train the lower ab muscles adequately. As a result, the upper ab muscles receive most of the training at the expense of the lower ab muscles. And that's why the "pooch" below the belly button is so hard to lose. One of the best exercises to do this is hanging leg raises. If you lack arm strength, you can also do leg raises while lying on a bench or the floor. The key to a flat tummy and sexy waistline is to train the lower abs first.

Not hydrating. Drink water before, during, and after your workout. Water is the most abundant nutrient in the body, not to mention the most important. Water is the most critical nutrient for health, growth, development and is the medium in which all energy reactions take place.You need to drink a lot of water for health, stamina, fuel, and building muscle.Failure to hydrate will diminish your performance in the gym, resulting in decreased strength and endurance, potential cramping and more.Remember, if you are thirsty, you are already in dehydration mode. Solution: drink at least 16 ounces before and immediately after your workout, and also drink water during your workout as well.

Poor Posture. Poor posture can result in injuries. There are several exercises where posture is extremely important but none are more relevant than in heavy weighted power exercises such as deadlift, squat and bench press. 

Poor form. Poor form can not only slow your results, but poor formamber_dumbbell_row can result in torn or pulled muscles, torn tendons, and back problems. These are just a few of the hazards that can result from performing exercises with less than perfect form. 

Examples of poor form include.

  1. Jerking the weight. Jerking the weight causes you not only to lose proper form and lead to a possible injury, but it also takes the resistance off the muscle and will diminish effectiveness. Remember to use a smooth controlled movement and proper form when performing all exercises.
  2. Swinging the weight. Swinging the weight will create momentum providing for less muscle fiber to be worked, less muscle growth and be open for a possible injury due to poor form.This unfortunately is a very common site for many when working the back or working the biceps.
  3. Twisting or jerking your body. Twisting your body or use a jerking motion to lift the weight will definitely put you at risk for injury.
  4. Movement performed too fast. When movement is performed to fast, less muscle fiber will be worked and less growth will occur.
  5. Not using full range of motion. When weight training you need to use a full range of motion. Muscle strength increases when exercises are done through a complete extension/flexion and joints stay more mobile. Using full range of motion increases the force of contraction during each rep and as a result can greatly enhance your results. No matter how fast you go or how many reps you do, it won't be as effective as fewer and easier exercises done with a complete range of motion.
  6. Pulling on your neck when doing stomach crunches. When you place your hands behind your neck and pull your neck forward as you come up when doing stomach crunches you can injure your neck. Your hands should be on the chest, or by your side.
  7. Arching the back when doing bench presses. Arching the back with your butt off the bench can injure your lower back; specifically the intervertebral disc which can experience compression when force into this position. Poor posture is not often thought about when performing bench exercises, such as bench presses, but it is relevant. Remember to keep your feet flat on the floor and butt on the bench with no more than slight arch in your lower back. 
  8. Not keeping your back straight when deadlifting. Performing deadlifts with poor posture increase risk of spinal disc injuries like hernias. When performing a deadlift, it is extremely important that you do not round out your lower back at any point during the deadlift exercise. Instead keep your back straight with head nether looking up or down (neutral position) at all times.

  9. Bending too far forward when squatting. This can cause you to lose your balance. It can also put too much stress on your lower back.When squatting make sure your back is arched, head up, abs are tight and your body is in proper alignment. Do not bend past your knees.  

Working out too long.  It's a common misbelief that in order for your exercise plan to keep being effective, you have to add more exercises or to do longer stretches of cardio. Taking too long to complete your workout can result in sub par results. The trick is to work harder, not longer. That's done by lifting heavier, resting less in between sets; in other words accomplishing more in the same amount of time, or as much in less time. It's simple, but it works - try it! 

No cool down. When you're finished, make sure to stretch out each major muscle. When you don't stretch, your body loses flexibility. Good flexibility not only increases athletic performance but also plays an important role in helping you stay injury free. Post workout stretching is an important part of preparing your muscle for your next workout. It also minimizes post exercise muscle soreness by increasing blood flow to the worked areas, which speeds up the healing process.

Training while sick. Thinking when you have a cold or flu, that you'll go to the gym and work it out of your system, is pure nonsense. Besides contaminating others, when you train you weaken your immune system while repairing damaged muscles. If you have a cold or flu already, lowering the immune system is going to bring that cold or flu on even more. If you're feeling ill, eat well and take few days off to recover until you're fully fit to begin training again.

Top Cardio Errors

No warm-up. Don't set the treadmill, bike or stair climber to your fastest pace as soon as you step on. Gradually increase your speed.

Doing too much cardio. By doing too much cardio your body perceives cardio exercising as a stressor, and chemically reacts the same way it does to "bad" stress. Therefore, too much cardio can have negative effects on your metabolism the same way that eating too few calories can. In addition, too much cardio exercise can result in muscle loss. Too much cardio also puts a lot of wear and tear on your body, which could leave you open to injury and overtraining.

Exercising too hard. If you want to lose fat and not muscle you should not set cardio equipment at the fast cardio pace. Target heart rates for fat burning are posted on treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary exercise bikes. The measurements used to get those numbers are designed to avoid litigation as much as they are as to benefit users.

Poor posture. Poor posture, like bending forward can result in injuries to your lower back, and can also put pressure on your knee and hip joints. When using cardio equipment, stand tall. On treadmills, keep the incline and speed adjusted so you can walk without having to hold on to the machine. Avoid leaning back while hanging on with your hands. For stair steppers, keep your upper body lifted. Leaning forward and resting the upper body on the machine means the effort is too difficult. Lighten the load or slow down so that you can stand as you normally would walking up a flight of stairs. When using an elliptical trainer go for a full extension of the legs each time. And, on cycles sit upright.

Leaning on the Tread Master rails. If you lean on the handrails during your workout, you're just defeating the purpose. Keep arms moving as you would when walking or running.

Doing cardio before weight training. There are reasons you do NOT want to do your cardio before weight training. Once the cardio is done, the quality of your lifting will most likely suffer. Your energy sources may be used up. Since you reap the most benefit from the last two or three reps of weight lifting, it is essential that you have the necessary energy to achieve those reps. That fuel may not be available if you do a hard cardio workout prior to your weight training. Consistently training in a weakened state actually lead to decrease in strength over time because it discourages your muscles from being adequately challenged. Cardio burns fat and carbs. If you do your cardio first, the carbs may not be there to fuel your weight training.

No cool-down. If you want to stay injury free, you should allow yourself time to cool down. Cooling down will help your body to recover and this recovery will help you be prepared for the next workout. Cool down is just as important in allowing your heart rate to lower as your warm up is for increasing the heart rate.

Top Stretching Errors

Not holding the stretch. By not holding the stretch you will be defeating the purpose of the stretch. Holding the stretch (Static Stretching) for a period of time will create more flexibility, loosen muscles and tight tendons, and reduces muscle tension.

Not stretching at all. When you don't stretch, your body loses flexibility. Good flexibility not only increases athletic performance but also plays an important role in helping you stay injury free.

Bouncing. Bouncing while stretching can cause micro trauma in the muscle, which must heal itself with scar tissue. The scar tissue tightens the muscle, making you less flexible, and more prone to pain. This type of repetitive, bouncing stretch is called Ballistic Stretching and it can strain your muscles and tendons because they aren't quite warmed up yet.

About the Author, Jeff Behar 

Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, weight loss, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on major health, fitness and  weight loss websites. Jeff Behar is also the CEO of, and; two very popular health, fitness, disease prevention, weight loss, nutrition and anti aging information sites. 

About the Author, Lynn Glenn 

Lynn Glenn
Lynn Glenn
Lynn Glenn is a heath and fitness lover who regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, and bodybuilding for, and Lynn Glenn started lifting at the young age of 48, and at 61 years old this Simi Valley, California writer inspires many people half his age to live a healthy lifestyle and to improve their own physiques. 
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