Two months into the new year, many readers will be ruminating on the progress they’ve made on their New year’s Resolutions. And for many, this means checking on their progress in terms of their fitness goals. We all make grand promises to ourselves when the new year rolls around, but after a month many of us find ourselves frustrated by our apparent lack of progress despite our discipline and hard work both at the gym and in the kitchen. But despite your zeal to get into the best shape of your life, it’s important to maintain a calm, considered and informed approach to your fitness. Despite the best intentions, many of us find ourselves making mistakes at the gym which can actually cause us way more harm than good.
Here we’ll look at some commonly made mistakes at the gym which might seem innocuous or even like they’re hastening our progress, but are actually potentially hindering our progress and damaging our bodies. These include…
Being unrealistic with yourself
It’s all too easy to fall off the fitness wagon. And when we do so, the temptation is to approach the gym as though we’ve never left it. Even if years go by without working out at all. But if you go in expecting to be able to achieve the same results of which you were capable at your peak, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. At best you will try to lift too much too quickly and your technique will go out of the window. Moreover, your muscles will fill with lactic acid and you’ll be unable to move for the rest of the week. At worst you can risk a serious injury (more on that later). Moreover, if you have unrealistic expectations of yourself, you may find yourself becoming disheartened and your motivation may dwindle.
While we’re on the subject, if you have yet to see visible results after a month, don’t be disheartened. There are many reasons why you may not have started to see a visible difference in your shape yet. Depending on your weight, body fat ratio, age and genetics it can take a little longer to start to see a visible difference. What’s more, don’t forget that we’re often the last people to notice changes in our own bodies. Take the time to learn the factors that influence how quickly (or slowly) we lose weight and use them to keep your expectations in check.
Comparing your progress to others’
Short of dropping a 50lb barbell on your head, there’s no mistake more potentially harmful at then gym than comparing your progress to that of your friends, your partner or the girl who you see on the next treadmill over.
The only person to whom you can reasonably compare your results is yourself. Otherwise disappointment, disenfranchisement and abandoning your efforts are sadly inevitable. This is why it’s so important (however uncomfortable it may be) to document your weight, measure yourself and make a food diary to track your progress. It’ll help you to see that even if you can’t see the results, you’re laying the foundations upon which long term gains are built. This will help you to stay on-track and motivated.
Sacrificing technique for weight
When you pile another plate onto that barbell or crank up the weight on the lifting machine you feel as though you’re making tangible progress. But this can often be misleading. In many cases, increasing the weight you lift can do more harm than good, especially when lifting free weights.
As you strain to lift the heavier weight, you’ll inevitably abandon the finer points of technique. Worst case scenario, you’re putting yourself in a prime position to declare a neck pain ICD 10 on your health insurance. At best you’re actually inhibiting proper development of your muscles. This will negate the benefits that you should expect from strength training. Remember, that technique is always more important than weight. Get your technique to a point where it’s consistent and sustainable throughout the exercise and you’ll make much faster and clearer progress.
Neglecting warm up and cool down
In your zeal to start feeling the burn, you may feel the need to jump straight onto the nearest squat rack and start lifting. But doing so can make you vulnerable to injury… or at the very least inhibit your range of motion leading to bad technique. If you’ve gone from sitting at your desk to sitting in your car to hitting the gym, warming up before your workout is absolutely essential. It helps to keep your muscles limber and ensure the proper range of motion needed to get a great workout done.
Cooling down is also extremely important (and, sadly, often neglected). It prevents the buildup of lactic acid in tired muscles, prevents you from feeling lightheaded after your workout and allows you a chance to wind down and ruminate on all you’ve accomplished throughout your workout, helping you to grow in your feelings of confidence and accomplishment.
Forgetting your water bottle
Always remember to bring your water bottle to the gym. Hydration is an extremely important part of achieving your fitness goals. When you’re working out your body loses water faster than it does under normal circumstances. This can lead to muscle cramps, headaches and fatigue… all of which can keep you from being the best that you can be in your workouts. So make sure that you always bring your water bottle and keep sipping at it through your workout.
Moreover, you should be careful to stay hydrated throughout the day. Good hydration is an essential part of all the metabolic processes behind fat loss and lean muscle growth.
Forgetting the importance of a good night’s sleep
Finally, one of the most egregious mistakes is not made at the gym, but in the home. Never forget the importance of a good night’s sleep. It’s while we’re asleep that our bodies do all the hard work that keeps us at our mental and physical peak. Not getting enough sleep can be disastrous for your metabolism, so make sure that you follow these tips to help get a good night’s sleep.