Gyms can often be a confusing place, with potentially thousands of different exercises and workouts to try. Endless diet and lifestyle tips. It’s no wonder people struggle to get things right. However here are the 7 of the biggest mistakes, avoid these common mistakes and your results will skyrocket:
1. Not having a structured workout plan
People wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do, is a common sight in gyms, moving from one piece of equipment to the next. I understand why people do this, without having a plan, that’s all you can do. Unfortunately, this really destroys the ability to make progress. If you want to get results in the gym, you need to follow a plan, then build upon it week by week; using progressive overload.
2. Changing your workout program too often
The opposite to people with no program are program hoppers. These are the people who do a different routine every other week in search of the perfect plan. The problem is, there is no perfect plan. In fact, for the best results, we need to use a plan long enough to get the benefits from it. But not too long that we stop getting benefits from it. Using a program for about 8-12 weeks is a good rule of thumb.
3. Not using progressive overload
When it comes to building muscle and strength; cardiovascular fitness and flexibility, nothing is more important than progressive overload. My favourite example of this is Milo and the bull. Milo was a mythical Greek wrestler known for his incredible strength. Legend has it, his strength was developed from a young age, when he carried a calf every day and as it grew bigger and heavier so did he, until one day he was carrying a full grown bull. This, in essence, is progressive overload.
It’s making sure you are constantly asking a little more of your body. This could be in the form of trying to lift more weight, performing a few more repetitions or it could be holding a stretch for longer, or running a little further. In order to build any component of fitness, you need to constantly push your body to adapt. This requires overloading your body with more than its done before. It’s no accident the strongest and fitness people in the gym are often the hardest working; this is because they constantly push themselves, using progressive overload.
4. Not tracking your workouts
If you don’t write down and track the workouts, how are you going to progress? Being meticulous about exactly how much weight and how many repetitions and sets you did last week might seem a bit time consuming, but it’s important. Being able to see what you did in the last workout gives you a target to beat. It also makes sure you don’t just repeat the same number of repetitions you did the week before, or worse do less.
5. Not getting enough sleep;
Motivational talks about waking up at 4am and attacking the day are pretty common. But if this comes at the expense of one’s total sleep it’s probably not worth it. Sleep really can make or break your results in the gym. For example, a weight-loss study from 2010 compared 5.5 hours sleep with 8.5 hours and found although both groups lost the same amount of weight, 3kg’s. In the sleep-restricted group, only 0.6kg’s of the weight loss was from fat, the other 2.4kg’s was from muscle! In the 8.5-hour sleep group, 1.5kg’s of weight-loss was from fat, a big difference. Eventually, this could drastically affect your results. Imagine losing 9kg’s and finding out 7kgs of that was muscle; that’s exactly what could happen if you don’t prioritise your sleep.
6. Using poor form
People are shocked when I show them what a difference simple tweaks can make to movements they are performing. Such as how retracting the scapula when doing pull-ups can alleviate shoulder pain. Or how pulling the ribs in can reduce back pain, and increase abdominal muscle activation. Poor form isn’t simply lifting weights that are too heavy, it’s sometimes far more subtle. If you are unsure how to perform a movement, it’s often worth getting advice. Doing things right can save you a lot of unnecessarily aches and pains, while drastically improving your results.
7. Focusing too much on one facet of fitness
Weight training helps build muscle, bone density, stronger joints and look more muscular. Cardiovascular exercise develops work capacity, heart health and may improve brain health. Being mobile and flexible is important for reducing the risk of injury and maintaining joint health. Don’t neglect one area for another; the more well rounded you are, the healthier and fitter you will be.
There you have it, 7 of the biggest pitfalls happening at the gym. In essence, the major mistakes revolve around not using a well structured, regularly updated, workout plan, while getting to bed on time.