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The gym can be a wild place. From changing room etiquette to the unspoken rivalry of bench-pressers and treadmill-runners alike, everyone wants to come out on top – and be the king of the gym. But there are those who work out still trying to work out the ways of the gym – and these are some of the worst habits out there…
Some people do it to save time, some people do it because they think their bodies are in such peak physical condition that they simply don’t have to, but skipping your warm up is a recipe for disaster. Dedicating yourself to even a brief but effective warm up of lunges, press ups and squats will prepare your body for the workout to come – and should never be overlooked.
If you saunter into the gym without a game plan, you’re not going to do well. Wandering without purpose or goal between any machines that are free is a sure fire way to ensure you’ll waste your time – doing uneven reps, doubling up on muscle groups to work out and ending up confusing your body. Instead, make a note of exercises, sets and reps and alter these as you progress.
The cardinal cardio sin is getting that heart rate up too much before weight training. Of course, cardio is a key part of a work out, and half an hour or so on a running machine or rower is certain to do you good. But lay under the bar after putting your body through that, and you’ll end up being fatigued – which could lead to poor form or personal injury.
Although it’s important not to hop around the machines every time you hit the gym, sticking to the same two or three can be just as detrimental for your workout. So, rather than becoming too entrenched in your routine, figure out which machines work which muscles, and stick to working out the same muscles rather than sticking to the same machines.
As important as working out is, the time you’re not lifting or crunching or pressing is just as important in building muscle. You shouldn’t be spending more than an hour in the gym, so timing your rest periods is key. That way, you can get done faster, work your muscles harder, and pare down those rest periods if you want to push yourself even harder.
If you forget to drink water whilst working out, your body will fatigue faster. And those of you who don’t take a water bottle – and instead use the walk to the water fountain as an excuse for a longer rest – are kidding yourselves too. Just buy a bottle, keep hydrated, and your work out will work all the better.
One of the worst things you can do in the gym is stay in the gym. You may think it makes you look like a seasoned professional, and a man seriously focused on his body, but instead it looks a little bit posey. Try to focus each visit to one part of the gym so you don’t turn each session into a parade across different floors – a habit that also wastes time.
There are those who like the look of certain machines and equipment without having any idea how to use them. As a result, you may be toting a medicine ball, but using it completely wrong – and doing your body no benefit whatsoever as a result. Do some research on what exercises are best for you, how to properly execute them and rigorously self-criticise your form.
You set yourself up for failure if you set an unrealistic goal for your workout sessions. No-one’s going to end up looking like a superhero after 5 visits to the gym, so if you try to pack too much exercise into too little time you’ll end up – at best – disappointed and – at worst – in a lot of pain.
Conversely, it can also be detrimental if you fail to set yourself any goals. You’ll end up aimlessly bench pressing and rowing – which will obviously do you good – but without an end idea in your mind, it’ll be harder to measure gains and self-motivate.