We all have our moments of weakness at the gym. And by weakness, I don't mean that you suddenly lose the ability to lift 12-pound dumbbells over your head; I mean mental weakness, loss of motivation, and neglect of proper technique. Let's face it, we tend to go easier on ourselves than a personal trainer would. Since we all cannot afford to shell out the big bucks to have a personal trainer push us, I spoke with Lauren Fairbanks, an Equinox trainer, about common workout mistakes. She's spent some time making people sweat and has been able to catalog four common problems she sees regularly at the gym. Fear not, she's going to help us fix these issues, too.
- It's not always about speed: Lauren sees a lot of people "going through repetitions way too quickly." Blazing through your reps means you're not working through the full range of motion of your muscles and joints. You're often sacrificing form for speed. The simple fix is slow it down, focus on the quality of your movement, and check your form in the mirror. If you're not sure you're doing an exercise correctly, check with the front desk to find the trainer on the floor. There should be a trainer hanging out on the gym floor, helping gym patrons with questions on form and how to work certain machines.
- One set is never enough: Lauren also comes across gym goers short-changing themselves and only doing one set of an exercise. Research has shown that doing two to three sets of an exercise will make you over 40 percent stronger than just doing one. Lauren suggests you "shoot for at least two to four sets of any exercise." The fix just might be to push yourself a little bit harder. You're tougher than you think!
- Same old, same old: Maybe it's because we are creatures of habit, but Lauren has noticed a fair bit of gym folks always doing the same routine. This is a no-no, because it "leads to plateau, loss of interest, lack of results — we're talking weight training as well as steady state cardio . . . mix it up people!" If your routine is stale, take a group class to try new things. Spinning is great if you're a treadmill addict — intervals are staple in indoor cycling classes so goodbye steady state cardio. Sculpting classes will work muscles you never knew you had. Check out our downloadable and printable workouts for both cardio and strength training. These workouts will surely help you freshen up your routine.
See if you're guilty of the last two mistakes.
- Posture perfect: "Hunched over posture while exercising is also really common" according to Lauren. And all this hunching can lead to injury and pain. To correct the problem, she suggests people work on strengthening their upper backs with rowing exercises and stretching their chests, too. Lauren also is a big fan of core work to help strengthen the lower back. Planks are a great way to work the abs and the supporting back muscles simultaneously. So while you're refreshing your stale routine, be sure to throw some back strengthening moves into your workout.