It takes effort to get to the gym on a regular basis, so once you're there, make sure you're not wasting your time. Stop these seven gym mistakes now to cut minutes from your workout while still increasing its effectiveness.
- Socializing too much: We love our workout buddies as much as anyone else, but when it comes to gym time, make sure you and your buddy are on the same workout wavelength. That means she should be just as dedicated to an effective workout as you so you can both get in and get out (and then catch up!).
- Going slow and steady: Not every workout has to be a sweaty endeavor, but if your go-to gym workout involves reading a magazine on the treadmill — or, even worse, talking on your phone — you're wasting your time. Speed it up with intervals so you can push your potential — and your calorie burn.
- Not having a plan: If you've gotten to the gym but you're not sure what to do, trying to decide on the right exercise can be a major waste of time. Before you go to the gym, take a few moments to plan how you should be working out; you'll get to the gym and know exactly what you should be doing. If you need some inspiration, keep a few of our POPSUGAR Fitness printable workouts stashed in your gym bag.
- Taking too many breaks: Keeping your heart rate up is key to your workout success, so if your workout is full of breaks and water-fountain trips, it's time to cut a few out of your routine. Limit breaks between intense intervals and circuits (by doing supersets) to reap your workout's cardio and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter amount of time.
- Idling in the locker room: If you're not focused, a quick locker-room trip can turn into 20 minutes of trying to find your socks or being distracted by your phone. Keep your gym bag organized, and try to go to the gym at off-peak times if possible in order to make the locker-room stop quicker.
- Only using the machines: Sure, those strength-training machines can help you work certain muscles, but often they are just a waste of time. Using the machines at the gym means you become less engaged with your workout and are also only spot-training muscle groups — both of which are prime time-wasters. Cut your time on muscle-isolating gym machines, and use that time instead for total-body strength-training moves, like this full-body circuit workout with weights.
- Not knowing what you're doing: If you're new to the gym, going in without any advice or instruction can mean a haphazard gym trip; even worse, your gym newbie status can lead you to perform moves improperly for an ineffective workout. Instead, take advantage of the free training consultation many gyms provide; you'll be able to learn more about essential strength-training moves and the gym floor setup. You should also take beginner-level fitness classes so you can follow along and learn instead of trying to figure it out yourself; being part of a class can make the gym feel less intimidating when you're new.
Source: Thinkstock / Ron Chapple studios