When it comes to staying healthy, hitting the gym is a great habit. In some cases, though, it can do more harm than good. If you’re not careful about how, why, and when you’re working out, you can end up hurting yourself and make hitting the gym more of a chore than an opportunity. Read on to learn more about the eight gym mistakes you must avoid at all costs.
8 Gym Mistakes You Must Avoid
Whether you’re a new gym-goer or an experienced individual with lots of gym history, avoiding these eight mistakes will make your workouts happier and healthier for years to come.
- Not Wiping Down Machines Before You Use Them
You wouldn’t go to the bathroom without washing your hands after, would you? So why would you use a machine you haven’t wiped down? Throughout the course of the day, gym machines are exposed to dirty hands, sweat, and skin from dozens of different people. While reputable gyms clean and disinfect their machines at the end of every day, this doesn’t do much to protect you during your lunch break workout.
To avoid things like skin conditions and cold and flu transmission, be sure to wipe down each machine you intend to use. Most gyms supply disinfectant wipes near the machine areas, so grab a few and wipe down the elliptical or bike before you mount up. To protect the next user, wipe it down once you’re finished, too.
- Using Machines Improperly
When you purchase a gym membership, it’s common to receive a coupon for a free introductory tour, as well. If you get one of these, take it. While most of us are familiar with simple machines, like the treadmill, the weight room and some of the more sophisticated instruments are an entirely different story.
If you don’t know how to use these more intricate machines, there’s a good possibility that you’ll use them incorrectly, and hurt yourself in the process. With this in mind, take the staff up on the introductory gym tour. Down the road, ask for help if you don’t know how to use a machine. Remember: getting hurt in a preventable way is one of the biggest gym mistakes you must avoid.
- Wearing Open-Toe Shoes
Just imagine what would happen to your toes if you slipped while running on the treadmill, or dropped a weight on them. While most gyms have a closed-toe-only shoe policy, this doesn’t stop everyone from wearing improper footwear. Instead of heading to the gym in your favorite sandals, be sure to don a pair of sturdy sneakers. In addition to keeping your toes safe, they’ll also give you the arch and foot support you need to enjoy a more productive workout.
- Doing The Same Workout Every Day
Your muscles thrive on surprise, and they won’t grow big and strong if you’re not changing up the routine now and again. One of the most common gym mistakes you must avoid is getting caught in a rut. While it’s easy to fall into a comfort zone, where you only use the elliptical or only lift weights, change it up now and again.
This approach will allow you to work different muscle groups and enjoy a more functional, productive workout. If you need help coming up with new exercises, consult your gym’s on-staff trainer, or talk to your fitness-focused friends about what they do at the gym. Chances are, you’ll come up with a few good options.
- Not Setting Fitness Goals
When you go to the gym, you need to do it with a goal in mind. Even if you’re not trying to head to the World Bodybuilding Championships, it’s critical to understand what you’re working to achieve. Here’s why: gym and fitness goals provide a trajectory for you to follow.
Whether your goal is to lose ten lbs., improve the tone of your legs, or just increase your endurance, defining the purpose beforehand is a critical step in making sure it comes true.
For best results, write your goals down once you’ve developed them. This will help you hold yourself accountable. As your goals evolve, change and alter them accordingly.
- Not Eating To Support Your Workouts
If you don’t put gasoline in your car, you can’t expect it to get you very far. This is true for working out, as well. If you’re not eating well and supporting your body with proper nutrition, you can’t expect your workouts to be productive.
With this in mind, eat a diet of clean foods. This should include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leafy greens, and lean protein. If you’ve been a fast-food aficionado until now, start cooking at home more often. You’ll save money and see your body start to change all at once.
Improper nutrition is one of the critical gym mistakes you must avoid, and figuring out how to eat better to support your workouts is a major step to leading a healthier life.
- Taking On Too Much All At Once
Imagine this: you’ve never worked out before, but then you start a program where you commit to exercising for an hour a day, seven days a week. You’d burn out in a matter of weeks if you even made it that long. One of the biggest gym mistakes you must avoid is setting goals that are too broad or too ambitious. While it’s certainly smart to reach for the sky and push yourself, biting off more than you can chew will just leave you feeling overwhelmed and defeated.
With this in mind, break your goals down into more manageable segments. Instead of working out seven days a week, start with three and introduce healthier foods into your diet. Within a month, bump it to five days, and so on and so forth. Sudden change is difficult for the body to adjust to, and making gradual shifts will help ensure your success and happiness in the long-run.
- Not tracking your progress
If you’re not tracking your progress, it’s tough to know what’s working and what’s not. This is one of the first gym mistakes you must avoid.
Because of this, it’s essential to keep a record of where you started, what your goals are, and how your efforts are helping you reach them. This way, you’ll be able to look at your overview and understand what works, what doesn’t, and how it will all fit together.
Navigating Around Gym Mistakes You Must Avoid
While learning to excel in the gym can be tough, routing around the eight most common gym mistakes you must avoid is a great place to get started. By learning to improve your gym hygiene, trick your muscles into adapting faster, and set attainable goals, it’s easier than ever before to set a fitness regimen and stick to it.
Plus, when you know how to get around the common gym mistakes you must avoid, you’re less likely to get hurt, burn out, or have a bad experience – all of which helps you stay happier and healthier for years to come.