You can be new to exercise, or even a veteran at it – no one is safe from making mistakes at the gym and the earlier you catch it, the better (and faster) your road to fitness will be.
Limber up, ladies and gents!
Some people’s idea of a warm up is jumping on a bike or treadmill for a few minutes, and sometimes that’s okay.
However, considering that most of us spend our working hours sitting at a desk all day, limbering up before you really start exercising is essential to avoid injury and to optimize your performance.
You’ll want to mobilize and activate tight areas such as your shoulders, spine, and hips, and increase your core temperature.
So be sure to do some stretches, and run through a sequence of movements like shoulder rolls and knee bends.
Breathe in and out the right way
This may surprise some people, but “incorrect breathing”, especially at the gym, can lead to stress, anxiety, increased blood pressure, and contribute to muscular tightness.
Incorrect or dysfunctional breathing is very common and it’s when you develop shallow chest breathing and breathe through your mouth, instead of through your nose and using your diaphragm.
So focus on inhaling through your nose (taking note that your belly should inflate a little as you do so) and exhaling through your mouth. And always exhale on exertion. For example, when doing pullups – exhale when pulling up, and inhale when going down.
Watch your form
One of the biggest issues that people can have when exercising is poor technique.
You think you know how to execute an exercise, and you are seeing results so it must be working – but unless you really watch yourself while you’re performing these exercises, it’s very easy to develop bad technique or form, which means your movements are not optimal, and can even lead to injury down the road.
If you don’t have access to a trainer, make sure to read articles or watch videos on how to properly execute an exercise, and watch yourself as you do them, at least until you’re comfortable enough with the movements to know you’re doing it right.
The correct pace
While you need to push yourself to get to the next level, pushing too hard and too fast will mean injury.
So pace yourself, and never strain muscles and joints to the point of breaking!
Over time, your muscles will adapt to the stress you’re putting on them and it’s at this point where you can take the next step and add on more weights.
Choose the right exercises for you
It’s tempting to just go from one machine to another, but you’ll have to be a bit more methodical to get the best results possible.
Different machines at the gym are designed to hit different areas, so be sure to choose the right tool for the job and avoid spending too much time at only one machine or equipment.