Mistakes at the gym

So you’ve started working out. You’ve set goals. You’ve found a workout that suits you. I’m proud!

Before you get too comfortable with your workout, though, make sure you’re doing it right! And before I go on, know that is normal to make mistakes at the gym. Everyone makes mistakes! So don’t think you’re the only one.

The warm-up

Don’t dive right into your intense workout without warming up first! The warm-up is one of the most important elements of an exercise program, particularly because it prevents injury. Warming up involves low-level activity, such as a brisk walk or a slow jog and is intended to raise total body temperature and muscle temperature to prepare the entire body for vigorous activity.

We ❤ CARDIO!

cardio training

I heard a girl say this at the gym the other day:

“I’m so determined to lose 10 pounds! I’m going on an elliptical for 30 minutes every day until spring break!”

Anyone know what’s wrong with her proposed goal? (Besides the fact that she wants to lose 10 pounds in little over a week.)

She thinks, as many people do, that doing excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise is an effective workout strategy.

Cardio exercise does burn extra calories, which helps keep body fat levels down, but limiting yourself to just cardio exercise with no strength training can keep you from achieving the best possible health and the body you desire.

So don’t be afraid to pick up some weights and start lifting! You can burn even more calories in a weight lifting session, and it leaves you with an “afterburn effect,” so you’ll keep burning calories even after you have finished working out. You can experience this afterburn effect after sprinting, too, but the typical cardio exercises most people do on a treadmill, elliptical, or bike do not involve the “high-intensity” needed to put the afterburn experience into effect.

Cardio haters

Just like people obsess over cardio, others don’t do any cardiovascular training at all. This is a  mistake people tend make when they are trying to gain muscle. The truth is, you need to do cardio to help melt away some of that body fat so your big muscles will show!  Cardio is not only good for burning calories, it is also important for maintaining a healthy heart.

It is important to balance cardio and weight training for optimal fitness.

Bad Form

Having bad form while lifting weights is common for beginners and regulars at the gym. It’s important to use a full range of motion and not “cheat” when lifting weights. The exercise will not be effective if you don’t do it correctly!woman doing bicep curls

If you aren’t sure if you’re doing something right, ask someone who works at the gym or someone who has weight training experience. People are always willing to help at the gym!

I WANT ABS, NOW!

Do you want abs? Sure you do! Everyone wants a nice, flat stomach with some visible abs. What’s your solution to getting a toned tummy? Doing excessive amounts of crunches? I hope not!

Abs are made in the kitchen.” If your diet is poor your progress will be Woman and man with visible absextremely slow, no matter how hard you’re working.  A good diet is absolutely key to seeing your abs! If you want to show off your stomach, you need to burn fat. Doing endless abdominal workouts is not going to get you there.

A controlled diet high in whole grains (>5grams fiber per serving), lean protein (<5 grams per serving), fruits and vegetables and other non-processed foods will get you to your goal more quickly.

Abdominal workouts are important for having a strong core, and when that stubborn layer of stomach fat  burns off, having strong abs will help. But having a good diet and working out 4-5 days a week are the only ways to get those dream abs.

Finishing up

Make sure to keep these common slip-ups in mind next time you go to the gym, especially if you want to see favorable results. Be sure to break a sweat to show you’ve been working hard, too!  And always leave time  to cool down and stretch your muscles at the end of each workout.

Good luck!

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15 thoughts on “Mistakes at the gym

  1. Great post, Aubrey…everything you said is so true! I tend to be a cardio junkie and I often want to skip lifting any weights but I know that’s not the best way to lose weight. Although I am not in my peak form right now, when I lost a good amount of weight, it was because I mixed both strength and cardio together. I think I am a little afraid of the weights because, I am always afraid of getting too “ripped.” Clearly, this is a fear I need to get over.

    Do you recommend doing cardio or strength first? I always hear different things but maybe you can tell me what works for you.

    • Definitely do cardio after strength training! But remember to warm up before. And I used to be afraid of getting too “ripped” too, but in order to gain a lot of muscle you have to eat A LOT and actually try to gain the muscle for it to really show. I would recommend trying out the circuit training spot at the Rec (at the very end of the hall after you pass the ab lounge on the second floor.) It’s great because it times everything for you and tells you what to do. Try doing the circuit two times and then some cardio after to finish off your workout!

  2. Aubrey, I really liked this post! I have to admit that I am your typical elliptical girl. I spend the majority of my time at the gym on that machine. I always tell myself that I am going to do something else, but I just can’t seem to do it. I have just recently started doing weights with to help tone up my arms. Abs are definitely something that I always focus on working on. Thanks for the great info!

    • Of course! And, yes, it can be hard to make yourself do something other than what you’re used to doing. Take a visit to the ab lounge at the Rec. It can actually be a lot of fun once you get used to it!

      • I enjoy this post because it is extremely easy to read and easy to follow along. When I read your posts, it seems that you are passionate about your topic. I also like reading your posts because they are extremely helpful as I am trying to get in shape for the warmer months. I am actually going to go through all of your posts just to make sure I am on the right track.

        What I liked most about your post is, the cardio section. I do not enjoy working out because I always felt like I had to do extraneous amounts of cardio every time I wen to the gym. I’m happy to know that isn’t the case. Thank you.

        Your writing is really well organized and conversational. Good job!

      • Thank you, Katie! I really am passionate about it, and I would love for others to be as well. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will make you feel great!

  3. I’m so glad that I came across this article. Sometimes it’s hard to find time and be motivated enough to go to the gym, but when I do go I feel pretty motivated and proud of myself. But this article informed me of the many mistakes that I’m making at the gym and could contribute to the reasons that I don’t see the results that I expect.

    When I get to the gym I usually head straight to the elliptical or treadmill and start with my cardio. I’ve always known that it’s good to start your workout with a warm up but I didn’t realize until reading this article that it played a vital part in getting your body ready for the rest of your workout. Or sometimes I will start on a treadmill slow and increase my speed. Is that the same thing as a warm up, or should the two activities be separate.

    I’m glad that you mentioned that in order to lose weight and get in shape your workout cannot only consist of cardio, you need to switch it up. A lot of people don’t know that so they never see the results they want. I’m aware that toning is a very important part of your exercise routine but what I struggle with is how to incorporate both into my workout. Should I pick one day and do cardio and tone another day? Or should I try to get both in in one workout? I believe working out like four times a week is good and and always starting with some light form of cardio and then doing two days of cardio and two days of toning. I’ve often wondered if this is an effective way to go about my workout routine.

    Thank you for the insightful article!

  4. I’m so glad that I came across this article. Sometimes it’s hard to find time and be motivated enough to go to the gym, but when I do go I feel pretty motivated and proud of myself. But this article informed me of the many mistakes that I’m making at the gym and could contribute to the reasons that I don’t see the results that I expect.

    When I get to the gym I usually head straight to the elliptical or treadmill and start with my cardio. I’ve always known that it’s good to start your workout with a warm up but I didn’t realize until reading this article that it played a vital part in getting your body ready for the rest of your workout. Or sometimes I will start on a treadmill slow and increase my speed. Is that the same thing as a warm up, or should the two activities be separate.

    I’m glad that you mentioned that in order to lose weight and get in shape your workout cannot only consist of cardio, you need to switch it up. A lot of people don’t know that so they never see the results they want. I’m aware that toning is a very important part of your exercise routine but what I struggle with is how to incorporate both into my workout. Should I pick one day and do cardio and tone another day? Or should I try to get both in in one workout? I believe working out like four times a week is good and and always starting with some light form of cardio and then doing two days of cardio and two days of toning. I’ve often wondered if this is an effective way to go about my workout routine.

    Thank you for the insightful article!

    -Jenae Green

    • You’re welcome! And thank you! To answer your question about starting with cardio and increasing your speed on the treadmill, that is perfectly fine to do as a warm-up. The only thing you don’t want to do, is overdo it. Make sure your warm-up cardio really warms you up and gets your heart going. And I would recommend combining strength training with cardio almost everyday you work out. There are a lot of different exercises you can do to switch it up, but definitely do the hardcore cardio at the end! You’ll feel great afterwards! (Maybe a little tired, but stick to it and you’ll start to love it!)

  5. Awesome post Aubrey! I really enjoyed this post because you were very informative while responding to the issue in a casual way. I recently have started becoming more conscious about my health and signed up for a GroupX pass at KSU’s rec center. An unlimited pass gives you access to any of the many fitness classes the rec offers at various times. I was glad to read in the article that just doing cardio will not help you lose weight; now I will go to cardio classes as well as weight training classes to help me get better results.

    I really enjoyed your ab section of the post. Who doesn’t want a nice flat tummy? I’m glad that you really enforced eating right, because it really does contribute to losing weight and getting the nice body you want. Most people would want to hear of different quick methods on how to improve their abdominals, but you did a great job at stressing that diet is the first step to seeing any kind of change.

    This post was very informative and beneficial to everyone’s well being! Thank you!

    Karly Golston

  6. I loved this post on working out and losing weight the proper way! I do not think enough people realize there’s is more to losing weight than extreme cardio and dieting. It’s about getting a full range of exercises and eating healthy!

    Although I was aware of a lot of the information you brought up, this post also taught me a lot about myself and what would work best for me. It also encouraged me to be more motivated and get back in shape, even if it’s not until this summer.

    I love that you included information on warming up. I do not think people realize how important this is. I always begin my workout with cardio, but start at a slower pace first and work into a faster-paced workout and have a cool down at the end. Very important to ease in and out of it.

    I see all too often girls at the gym who really don’t know what they’re doing in regardings to free weight lifting. It pains me to see girls stretching their backs and not having good form becaus I know, very well, that they’re going to feel more pain from that, at the end of the day, than benefitting from the workout.

    The one that you pointed out that I really appreciated was the slip-ups section. This definitely happens and I think it’s all in relation to motivation. You have to constantly encourage yourself to follow through with what goals you set for yourself.

    Thank you for posting this!

  7. Pingback: Is the cold weather getting the best of your fitness goals and healthy eating habits? | Healthy Bliss

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