I would easily say that some of my biggest lessons came from some of my biggest mistakes. One time when I was much younger and a hell of a lot more naive, I quit my job, packed up everything I owned and moved halfway across the country to a place where I didn’t know a soul. I say that because even though I made the move for love which would imply I knew SOMEONE there… it turns out I didn’t really know him either. 

When he came home one cold winter morning at 3 AM and woke me up by throwing on all the lights and yelling at me to get out, I was about to learn a valuable lesson. If something in your gut doesn’t feel good about a situation… trust it!

That whole story is probably best for another time though…. Sometime over some cocktails and carbs! Today I want to talk about mistakes I notice people making at the gym, all the time!

From seasoned gym goers to the newbies who are just darkening the door of the gym for the first time. 

Use these 5 common gym mistakes to save yourself the time and trouble, not to mention frustration of having to learn these lessons all on your own.

  1. Choosing the wrong kind of training. Regardless of what some fitness gurus say, cardio is not the devil. But neither is walking on the treadmill for an hour your most efficient way to spend time at the gym. 20-30 minutes spent in the weight room or doing some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will benefit you far more (including an increased production of testosterone which is incredibly important to us guys as we age)  than the latest cardio class…. no matter HOW hot you think the instructor is. Long cardio sessions, over an hour generally, elevate cortisol levels which is your stress hormone that, when it stays elevated, stores fat and breaks down muscle. Think about cardio being like foreplay to your workout. 
  1. Not having a well designed plan. You wouldn’t just go into your office and randomly start doing stuff, right? Well, some of us might, but generally that’s not the most effective way to accomplish things. Why should the gym be any different? But, I see guys ALL the time leisurely roll in and just start randomly lifting weights or hitting the machines without a second thought to big-picture benefits or time management. Working one-on-one with a trainer can help you design a plan that accounts for your needs, goals, and abilities to ensure compliance and maximize your time. 
  1. Not lifting heavy enough. Believe it or not, there are guys who’ll go to the gym and then waste their time messing around with weights that don’t offer any challenge. In order for a weightlifitng session to change your composition, it has to tax the muscle. It has also been shown that heavy strength training in older men not only increases testosterone like I mentioned before, there was also a significant decrease in resting cortisol. If you’re just starting an exercise plan, work with a one-on-one trainer to optimize form and develop a routine that works for you. Start with a few days a week, work up to your potential, track your gains, and make sure to include some rest days. 
  1. Resting too long between exercises. Years ago before everyone started having their phone with them in the gym… the trend was to rush from one exercise to the next without a breather. Again, that usually tells me that the set they just did wasn’t challenging enough. (see #3) Now I tend to see the opposite: Clients spending way too much time between exercises. Remember, this is your workout, not happy hour at Applebee’s. Especially if you’re lifting heavy, take a break between sets, but don’t let that minute or so break become an excuse to chat it up with your favorite trainer or go down the Facebook rabbit hole.
  1. Not doing a thorough warm-up. Hitting the gym at 9:15 and diving right into those bicep curls so you can make your 10 a.m. Starbucks date becomes all too tempting, but a brief warm-up wakes up your muscles and gets them ready for what’s to come. It’s also going to increase flexibility, improve form and minimize injury. Your body will thank you for doing a few minutes of a dynamic warm-up. Think old school moves like jumping jacks, push ups and squats. 

What gym mistake would you add to this list? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.

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