We've all seen the blooper videos of people doing things completely wrong in the gym. Well, I asked 10 health and fitness experts from Free Form Fitness personal training studios to give us their thoughts. Here they are:
1. Not balancing your workout
Often times people will overwork one muscle group, making it tight while making the opposite muscle group grows weak. People in the gym naturally gravitate towards exercises they are good at instead of what they need. This leads to injury. A good way to avoid this is to look at your posture and assess what exercises would be best for you. - Vania Hau, CPT
2. Exercising while eating poorly
Too many people feel they need to cut fat to lose weight, which leads them to buy "fat free" or "low fat" items. Those foods are loaded with sugar and fillers which simply harm their efforts to lose weight. Fats are not to be feared (good fats, that is!). Understanding "proper nutrition" is key to a successful weight loss journey. And no, that does not imply a diet. Those never work. It's a way of life! It's all about fueling the engine that is your body! - Catherine Marion, CPT
3. Having too many goals at once
There's a Chinese proverb that says "Chase two rabbits, catch none." Well, I would say the biggest mistake people make in the gym is just that. They try to fix too many things at once. "I want to run a marathon in record time but I also want to lose weight and be healthy." This is what I hear. Those three goals can be very conflicting and lead to complete mediocrity across the board. It's best to have a strategy. - Joey Blais, CPT
4. Drinking too much alcohol
I had a client that wanted to get in shape, but had a ton of aches and pains. I asked him to give up alcohol. Wait, wait, please keep reading -- there's still some alcohol. I knew he would hate hearing those words, but I knew that was the poison. Now with exception to only one or two glasses of wine on the weekend, he lost 15 pounds in less then eight weeks, all his aches and pains went away, and he increased his performance tenfold. We actually had members say he was an inspiration. Find the poison, remove the poison and reclaim health! - Mike Robichaud, CPT
5. Not eating enough
The problem I see in people who work out is that they don't eat enough quality food. Most people are lacking nutrients to build muscle, get strong or lose weight in a healthy manner. Not eating enough food also slows down your metabolism. - Alex Kendoza, CPT
6. Not warming up properly
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is underestimating what a proper warm-up can do. For example, static stretching before a workout is not a good idea. You want to move your joint through full range of motion. I see a huge difference when my clients warm up properly. They approach their workouts with much more intensity and prevent injury. - Ryan Williams, CPT
7. Not making your goal a priority in your life
The biggest mistake goes something like this:
Client: "I can't lose weight."
Me: "Didn't you just tell me you drank three bottles of red wine and ate a whole row of cookies last night?"
The biggest mistake is not making your health priority number one in your day. Schedule it in, and let everyone know that it's your most important meeting of the day. It's you time. The pit stop to keep the car going strong. - Ryan Brown, CPT
8. Not maximizing their cardiovascular training
I think the biggest mistake is that they walk on the treadmill holding on at snail speed. They're not utilizing their cardiovascular training very well. Have you seen what sprinters look like? Sprinting helps stimulate fat-burning and muscle-building hormones. - Nicolas Antal, CPT
9. Following trends instead of getting down to the core issue
People tend to follow trends as opposed to getting down to the core of the issue. Sure, you can go do CrossFit or catch the next Zumba class, but what is the purpose? What are you trying to achieve? That's what I look at and try to find the most efficient and safest way to get there. That often means starting with the basics. - Matt Uden, CPT
10. Exercising too long
You don't need to be in the gym for very long. The first 30 minutes produce 80 per cent of the results. All you need is a 10-minute dynamic warm-up, 30 minutes of resistance exercise and a five-minute cool-down. Anything more will not provide more results. - Luzia Jaeger Hintze, CPT
Whether you're new to exercise or a veteran lifter, there are always things you can do to make the best of your workout. Let us know your thoughts.
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Jumping straight on the cross trainer and running like Mo Farah in a bid to burn away those calories and avoiding weights for fear of ‘bulking out’ is one of the most common mistakes to make. Endless cardio routines will burn muscle and could push your metabolism into a worse state than it started. Hitting the weights, will keep a stimulus on your muscles and keep your metabolism up at the same time.
You know what you’re good at, so you stick to it. But despite thinking you’re not a natural runner or your arms are too weak for bicep curls, doing the same routine for too long will lead to a plateau and you will stop seeing results. If your gains have stopped, don’t be afraid to switch your routine. Just because you like something doesn’t mean it is the best thing to do in order for you to hit your goals. Ask for advice from gym staff, you’ll be surprised by the different number of exercises you can do for different muscle groups. For instance if you want abs like Nicole Scherzinger but hate crunches, the plank position will be just as effective.
Don’t use cardio machines to count the calories you burn as the only factor of how hard you work. Everyone burns calories at a different rate depending on many different factors. A machine will not be able to tell you your exact expenditure - use them as a guide not as gospel.
So many people expect changes in a week, but consistency will be key in your goals. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen, if you are consistent and work hard giving your body the right amount of time. Depending on how often you train and the intensity of your programme it can take between four and eight weeks to see visible results. If you haven’t got that long, look into high intensity interval training (HIIT.) These workouts are not for the faint hearted but they aim to boost metabolism and melt away fat much quicker than a regular workout.
You deserve it, right? Wrong! Your appetite may increase but consume the correct foods and your body will thank you for it. If muscle tone is your goal you’ll need to add more protein into each meal. Protein shakes are not just for body builders and your muscles need refuelling after a workout in the correct way. Diet versions such as Performance Diet Whey V2 is low in fat, low in sugar and carbohydrates and packed with protein to quench appetite and reduce hunger.
It’s tempting to lift the heaviest weight you can or run as far as possible as soon as you get to the gym but this will lead to muscle fatigue and can also make you burn out so you’re less tempted to return. Learn the good form in all your exercises so you understand how the muscles are supposed to work when they are being contracted under the tension of the weights you are lifting.
Blasting out 300 crunches to try and achieve a washboard stomach can lead to imbalances between abdominals and lower back and ultimately injury. Take a look at the classes on offer that will show you many new exercises you may not have even considered before. Ask your instructor for tips on how to get the most from each exercise – they’ll be happy to help you! Not only that, but one of the biggest things stopping people from achieving the perfect ‘6 pack’ is their actual body fat levels, it is really true when they say that abs are made in the kitchen. Good nutrition is key in revealing those abs.
Learning by copying others in the gym is not the way to go. I’m not saying the person you’re emulating doesn’t know what they’re doing but from experience, a lot of people know what works for them and if you copy them it doesn’t always relate to gains your end. Learn what works for you, the individual. No one is the same.
Too many gym goers fuel their workout with just water and expect to lose weight and tone up faster. But if you're doing your workouts on empty, you won't optimise your performance and can derail the progress you are making in your exercise plan. Ensure you take in a healthy and balanced diet including more greens, fruits and vegetables, or adding lean proteins to your diet. Sports nutrition supplements can complement your workout, depending on the result you want to achieve.
Don’t use soreness as a guidance to whether you had a good workout or not. Just because you haven’t experienced DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) doesn’t instantly mean that your workouts are bad. It could be a major indicator that your body is recovering well and that your nutrition is spot on.
Follow Jean Luc Boissonneault on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeanlucfit