You go to the gym several times a week but are you getting the most out of your workout? Here are 10 mistakes that could undermine your performance or even cause injury.
To make sure your training counts, here are 10 gym mistakes to avoid.
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DON’T USE THE WRONG TECHNIQUE
If you’ve ever had a twinge in your back after using a piece of gym equipment, it’s worth asking for a refresher ‘induction’. Gym staff will be happy to show you how to set up each piece of equipment to suit your height and the right technique to use.
DON’T BECOME DEHYDRATED
Your body needs adequate hydration for the muscles to function effectively, transport nutrients and regulate body temperature. If you’re on a high protein diet, it’s even more important to hydrate as high protein foods have a slight diuretic effect. Stay topped up by drinking 10 glasses of water and dividing your protein intake over six small meals a day.
One intense workout isn’t overtraining, but repeatedly pushing yourself to the limit can be dangerous. You don’t need to sustain an injury – less obvious symptoms of overtraining including fatigue, frequent colds, high blood pressure, insomnia and irritability. Have at least two rest days a week and cross train with different activities to prevent burn out.
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DON’T STICK TO THE SAME ROUTINE
Keep using the same equipment and your body will adapt so that it uses less energy to complete the workout – bad news if you want to burn calories or build muscle. Try jumping on a different machine or setting the treadmill or bike to follow a different course.
DON’T LEAVE OUT INTERVAL TRAINING
Do you set the bike, cross trainer or treadmill and simply plug away for 20 minutes? Don’t. Repeatedly doing short bursts of intense effort – running or cycling as fast as you can for two or three minutes – and then resuming your normal speed is the best way to increase your fitness levels.
DON’T STICK TO AN EASY WORKOUT
If you can easily hold a conversation or read a book propped on a machine, you’re not working hard enough. Your heart rate should range from 50% to 70% of your maximum if you’re working out at a moderate level. (To find your maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220).
DON’T ROUND YOUR BACK
Rounding your back puts an incredible amount of stress on the spine and can eventually result in a slipped disk. Focus on tightening your core muscles to keep your back in a neutral position. Get a friend or instructor to watch you lift to make sure your posture is spot on.
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DON’T ADD A TWIST TO SIT UPS
A study measured the activity of the oblique muscles during sit-ups and found they’re just as active without a twist. What’s more, research suggests that twisting movements impose large compression forces on the spine. Avoid twisting and you’ll get the same benefits – without the risk of injury.
DON’T FORGET TO COOL DOWN
Taking time to cool down and properly stretch after a workout will help prevent injury and ensure you perform at your best next time. Doing some gentle stretching will also give your heart rate time to return to normal and help the muscles rid themselves of toxins and lactic acid after an intense workout.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT FITNESS NUTRITION
Following an intense workout, the body requires hydration and energy (carbs to replace lost glycogen) and amino acids (found in protein) to help repair muscle tissues. During the first 30-60 minutes after exercise your muscles will absorb the most nutrients. Refuel by eating a good source of protein, some complex carbs and essential fats.