Are you a complete beginner on your first day at the gym or have you been doing this a while but just not getting the results you want? If you belong to the former I am pretty sure that your gym membership did not come with specific instructions about what to do or not to do at the gym. Nor did it come with an instruction manual stating the benefits of workout props and machines that are now at your disposal. If you come from the latter, don’t give up on your exercise routine just yet. It could just be that you are suffering from a bad case of rookie-itis and have completely botched a perfectly fine exercise routine because of bad form or bad habits. If you belong to either of the above groups, no need to fret, help is on the way. Below are the most common mistakes rookies make at the gym and advice on how to stop being the obviously new guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Let’s begin.
- SPENDING HOURS ON CARDIO
You can typically spot a newbie by the amount of time they spend around cardio machines, like the elliptical or the treadmill, doing God knows what. If you are spending more than an hour on the treadmill you may simply be doing too much of it. Frankly, you could do your health greater good by splitting your time into cardio AND strength training.
- NOT SPENDING ENOUGH TIME ON STRENGTH TRAINING
This is more common in women who are afraid to “bulk-up” like Arnold Schwarzenegger. First of all, this cannot happen because as women you do not have as much testosterone as men do. Secondly, the health benefits of strength training far outweigh that of cardio. When strength training, you burn fat instead of muscle and water like cardio does, giving you a more lean appearance. Weight lifting in particular is a heavenly gift sent for bone density, a problem most women will have later in life. Lastly, when you strength train you will need less time per session to get the body you want, as compared to just doing cardio alone.
- STRETCHING BEFORE A WORKOUT
It’s not just rookies who are guilty of this. Contemporary studies show that stretching before your muscles have warmed up puts you at risk of pulling or tearing a muscle. Even based on conventional wisdom this advice is counterintuitive, but you should always stretch AFTER a workout, not before.
- NOT GETTING THE HELP YOU NEED
Ever feel like you’re just wasting your time at the gym? Going into your workout with no plan or goals whatsoever? No wonder you’re not getting the results you want. Hiring a trainer can streamline your health and fitness goals into a workable plan that you can stick to. Having a plan maximizes the time you spend at the gym. Consulting with a qualified trainer could also help you improve your form and avoid injury.
- WASTING YOUR TIME AT THE GYM
Unfortunately, hours at the gym are not necessarily directly proportional to pounds lost or muscle mass gained. In fact, the more time you waste at the gym the more likely it is that you are not getting the results you should be getting from your workout. Most circuit and strength training sessions should last no more than 30 minutes. If you can last for more than that, either you have been resting too much in between reps or are not working your muscles to failure. Meaning, you could be taking more strides if you compressed your workout.
- YOU CAN’T OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET
A lot of people will work themselves to the bone but still see no improvement on their bodies because of improper dieting. Any human being with at least a McDonald’s in their city will be able to eat double his required daily caloric amount with no problem. You simply cannot work hard enough to burn all that in a day. Still, the best way to trim up is a combination of effective physical training and a healthy diet.
Last but not least – over-thinking. This is the mindset that prevents most rookies from eventually becoming experts at the gym. If you wait until everything is perfect, until you’ve learned everything you can BEFORE you start taking care of your body, then you’ll never get to it.
Working out at the gym should be much simpler than that. It shouldn’t be easy but it should be fun and enjoyable for you. So just dive in head first into fitness, and let yourself be a rookie for a while; but make sure you learn as much as possible along the way.