Top 10 mistakes people make at gym

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

By Betsy Adams, Wellness Center Director at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital

A survey of 3,000 ACE-certified professionals points out the biggest mistakes made in the gym.

In some cases, these mistakes may simply mean the difference between an effective and an ineffective workout. Other mistakes, however, can be more costly, leading to strain and injury.

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ACE, America’s authority on fitness, shares the following mistakes commonly made in the gym and offers tips to help individuals stay safe during their workout.

Not stretching enough or properly: Stretch following an aerobic activity, while your muscles are warm and pliable. Take several minutes after every workout to stretch to improve flexibility and reduce risk of injury. Try to hold each stretch for at least 10 to 30 seconds. Don’t bounce when stretching. Holding a stretch is more effective and there is less risk of injury.

Lifting too much weight: Never lift more than your muscles can handle. Gradual, progressive resistance is a far more effective – and safe – way to increase muscle strength.

Not warming up prior to activity: Muscles need time to adjust to the new demands aerobic activity places on them. Start slowly and gradually increase intensity.

Not cooling down after any type of workout: Take a few minutes to lower your heart rate and stretch your muscles. This improves flexibility and helps prepare the body for your next workout.

Exercising too intensely: It’s more effective to sustain a moderate workout for longer periods of time than to exercise intensely for only a few minutes.

Not drinking enough water: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water – you’re already on your way to dehydration. Keep a water bottle close at hand during exercise and throughout the day.

Leaning heavily on a stair-climber (or elliptical, Arc Trainer or treadmill): Leaning on equipment such as a stair-climber or elliptical is hard on both the wrists and the back. Lower the intensity to the point at which you can maintain good posture while lightly resting your hands on the rails for balance. You will get a better workout, too!

Not exercising intensely enough: Exercise intensely enough to work up a light sweat and get your heart beating in your training zone.

Jerking while lifting weights: When you have to jerk the weight, it’s likely you’re jerking muscles as well. This can lead to strain and injury, with the muscles of the back being particularly vulnerable. Control the weight.

Consuming energy bars and sports drinks during moderate workouts: Unless you’re working out for longer than two hours per day, you don’t need to supplement with high-energy bars and drinks. (High-energy is often a code word for high-calorie.)