Imagine you go to the gym every day and stay focused throughout. You see your sweat finally paying off. You feel proud, right? It feels like you have done something. This motivates you and gives you the courage to keep going.
However, that is not the case with many people. They end up wasting their time at the gym and gaining nothing. They think they are doing enough, but they aren’t. If you are among those who don’t feel satisfied with their gym performance, read till the end.
Even if you lift those heavy weights and do all the workouts, you see no progress. You spend much time at the gym, trying out different movements, but still not enough. Why? Have you been doing something wrong? Let's find out the 12 mistakes that might be hindering your progress at the gym.
1. You’re Not Eating Well
Is there any point in going to the gym and doing intense exercises when you don't eat enough? It is vital to take care of your nutrition and diet besides your workout routine. For example, you can lose weight by burning calories through a workout or having a calorie deficit diet. However, the combination of both is the key to long-term weight loss.
One review suggests that combining a calorie-deficit diet with physical exercise is much more effective and the best method for weight loss. It leads to five times better weight loss results than doing exercise alone.
It is much easier to control your calorie intake, but regular exercise assists in preserving lean muscle and burning extra calories. Both are important but combining the two yields the best results.
Similarly, if your target is muscle building, you need to do resistance training, but your workout is useless if you are not taking adequate proteins. Likewise, there will be no muscle build if you eat enough proteins but do not challenge your muscles through resistance workouts.
Therefore, combining strength training and a protein-rich diet is vital to building muscles.
2. You’re Overdoing Exercises
Falling into the trap of overdoing the training or workouts is very easy. You may think that running for 30 minutes gives you excellent results; why not take it to 60 minutes to see double improvement? That’s not happening.
The same goes for gym training. If you are doing too much of it, it will harm multiple tissues. According to a study, excessive training stimulates skeletal muscles and bone tissue traumas, which results in proinflammatory cytokines release. These cytokines directly affect your nervous system, liver, hypothalamic gonadal axis, and sympathetic nervous system.
Similarly, excessive endurance exercises have adverse cardiovascular effects. A review suggests that excessive endurance exercises lead to coronary artery calcification, pathologic structural heart remodelling, diastolic dysfunction and large artery remodelling. However, more research is required to estimate at-risk individuals and the factors responsible for possible adverse effects of excessive exercise on cardiovascular health.
Another study suggests that overtraining can lead to exercise-induced muscle damage, musculoskeletal injuries, exercise-induced immunity alteration, cardiovascular effects, osteoporosis, exercise-related reproductive dysfunction, and sleep disorders.
It means you must keep track of time spent at the gym during workouts. Your focus must be quality-oriented instead of quantity.
3. You’re Out of Plan
We all have seen those proud gym members floundering here and there at the gym. They meander from one machine to another, see others, and figure out their next move. They are clearly out of plan!
If you have no plan that focuses on your needs, going to the gym is a complete waste. Fortunately, this one is easy to solve. You can research, understand your body needs, know your goals, and discuss everything with your trainer.
According to Daine McDonald, the founder of Clean Health Fitness Institute, gym-goers' biggest mistake is following the workout routines and plans available on the internet without knowing their body needs.
He says, ‘For amazing results and gym performance, you must invest wisely in a professional to make a proper workout plan for you. I believe in hiring a professional for the work I am not efficient in. For instance, if you know about numbers and formulas and can do math, it doesn’t imply that you don’t require an accountant for your office. The same goes for the training.’
4. You Wait for Your Turn
You are wasting your time if you wait for your turn or equipment. It may happen that someone else is using the machine or equipment you were aiming for, or the weights you want to lift are being used. What then? You will wait for your turn, right? Because this is what most people do.
It is not the right approach and, in fact, goes unnoticed most of the time. While you wait for your turn, your heart rate and body temperature reduce. Waiting will be a problem if you are into those exercises that need less resting time between sets.
Knowing that you are not alone at the gym, think of an alternative that can help you maximize your burn. You can do burpees or other exercises while waiting. You must rethink your plan and search for alternatives.
5. You’re Doing the Same Workout Everyday
Having a workout routine isn’t bad. Daily physical activity is a smart move and healthy for weight loss, muscle build, core strength, and overall health.
According to a small trial study done previously, there was an improvement in women with breast-cancer-related lymphoedema (BCRL). Twenty-three women were divided into intervention and control groups. The intervention group was assigned daily home-based small exercises. Interestingly, the women doing daily exercises showed improvement in managing BCRL better than the control group. It means exercise is essential. Even minor physical activities make a huge difference.
But repeating the same exercise every day for a long time is not a good idea. The reason is that the human body is highly adaptive. It becomes adaptive to a thing so that it ultimately loses its effectiveness. It is the same as if you start eating your favorite food every day, and then you end up hating that food.
If you keep performing the same workout, your muscles reach a growth plateau as you target the same muscles for quite a long time. So, it is highly recommended to switch the exercise and workout routine every 4-6 weeks before it starts losing its worth.
6. You’re Treating it as a Club
Another way of failed workouts and no improvement is treating the gym like a club. The gym is not a place to hang out with friends. There are several people who not only waste their time in chit-chat but also disturb the workout routine of others. They think coming to the gym and doing one or two exercises is enough for achieving those celebrity abs. Not happening!
We are not saying that socializing is a bad thing. You can make best friends, gym buddies, or even find a life partner at the gym, but maintaining gym etiquette is essential.
You can spend quality time before or after a workout talking and socializing, not during the exercises. After all, you are sparing time from your routine to come to the gym and work out. Do not let laziness and gossip come in the way of your fitness goals.
7. You are Clueless About Exercise Order
Exercise order may or may not affect your workout performance. Cardio before exercise or after depends on what type of training you are doing. So, if you are unaware of such a thing, your gym time is a waste.
According to a study, exercise may be necessary if you're aiming to reach a specific goal, like developing strength, endurance, or any sports skill. However, there is no such hard and fast rule for the recreational athlete. It usually comes down to personal preference.
For overall health performance, combining endurance and strength training is the best. You can perform strength training and cardio on alternate days or incorporate a HIIT, which contains strength training with short bursts of rest and cardio.
A detailed concurrent training meta-analysis was done in 2017, including acute and chronic cardio and strength training. According to that review study, strength training before cardio is more effective if you aim for lower body dynamics.
The above is true for fat loss as well. If you want to lose fat, try strength training or weight lifting before cardio, as it gives excellent results.
8. You’re Using Phone During Workout
Everyone knows that they cannot live without a tiny computer in their hand – a mobile phone. It is tough to resist those notifications and messages you are getting all the time, even during workouts. If you are continuously checking your phone or starting to use it, you are not doing anything good to yourself.
A study suggests that texting during a workout causes posture and focus imbalance by 45%. Meanwhile, talking/calling worsened the balance by 19%, less than texting, but still adequate to cause musculoskeletal injuries.
Another study from 2016 suggested that people who used phones during a 20-minute exercise spent nearly 10 minutes in a low-intensity zone but only seven minutes in a high-intensity zone.
On the contrary, those who exercised without using their phones spent barely 3 minutes doing low-intensity exercises and over 13 minutes doing high-intensity exercises.
It means texting or calling hurts your gym performance and fitness goals. Also, using a phone is not only putting you behind your fitness goal and wasting the time of others who are waiting for that equipment or machine you are using.
However, you can make things right by making yourself unreachable during gym time and keeping your phone inside the gym locker or home. Your messages will still be there when you reach your phone after a workout.
9. You’re Junk Addictive
Everyone begins working out for various reasons, but many people do it to improve their health and appearance. It's never easy to change your lifestyle to get healthy, plus poor habits are hard to break.
You're only wasting your time at the gym if you are not determined to limit your junk and food intake. If you want to see the real change after all your hard work, it is time you put down your favorite cupcake.
If you plan to munch on an entire packet of Cheetos after working out, you're wasting your time and energy. You may be able to conceal your junk food addiction from others, but deep within, you know why you aren't getting the results you want.
10. You’re Not Paying Attention to Rest
We are always told to work out daily to achieve fitness goals. But the importance of rest days or rest periods cannot be denied. Rest duration depends on your objective or goal. Regular breaks enable the body to recover and repair. If you are skipping rest days, it will lead to overtraining and burnout.
Likewise, resistance training is used for various purposes, including weight loss, muscle mass, strength, and muscular endurance. However, if you want to achieve one of these objectives, you must pay attention to taking a rest between sets.
If your goal is muscle mass, you must attain muscular hypertrophy. It is the stimulation of muscle fibers to increase their cross-sectional area while growing. According to research, 30-60 seconds of rest is the best for achieving muscular hypertrophy. So, you must rest for 30-60 seconds between each set of exercises.
When it comes to building strength, the focus is on maximal force generation, or power, rather than muscle size. A sufficient amount of rest between sets aids in maintaining a high level of force generation for the next set.
So the regular rest intervals for gaining strength are between 2–5 minutes, which research has shown to be the most effective for developing strength.
Similarly, research suggests that if your objective is endurance, the optimal rest interval should be less than 2 minutes. However, rest intervals as brief as 20 seconds can still be beneficial.
For beginner weightlifters, a rest of 60-120 seconds between each set gives enough time for muscle recovery and good form for the next round.
11. You’re Flaunting at the Gym
Admiration helps keep you motivated. Plus, it feels good when someone appreciates your bicep or perfectly toned abs, but you need to refrain from flexing those muscles at the gym. There's no harm in looking into the mirrors and taking a selfie or two but don’t go beyond that. Because many people take this thing to a level where they forget about their gym objective, they start admiring themselves a little too much.
So, if you are the one taking hundreds of selfies and posting them to your social media accounts, you are losing your efforts and wasting your time at the gym. The gym is the place where you flaunt sweat and stamina, and not hashtags.
12. You’re Relying on Machines
Workout machines and equipment come in handy to accomplish multiple fitness goals. They are easy to use and don’t require much effort from their users to operate. Each machine targets a specific muscle group providing you with the benefit you want to get.
However, entirely relying on weight machines is not a good idea for achieving weightlifting goals. Though they are helpful and target different muscles, these machines have several drawbacks. They target limited muscles and muscle groups, can’t mimic human movements, can’t work on your balance, and are not meant for everyone.
So, it's not great to always use them without challenging yourself with free weights. Instead of relying on machines, you can use dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells to increase your strength and focus.
Also, if someone is using the machine, waiting for your turn will reduce your heart rate, as mentioned earlier. So, it’s better to push yourself for more and keep doing the workout using your strength.
There are some common mistakes that most people commit at the gym, due to which they fail to see results despite grinding their muscles and spending hours at the gym. Some of these mistakes are not eating well, overdoing exercises, going to the gym unplanned, doing the same workout every day, and using the phone at the gym.
Also, treating the gym as a club, eating junk food, not resting between sets, following the wrong order of exercises, and relying on machines are some other blunders that many people commit.
However, planning and designing your workouts according to your goals can make things right. You can improve your performance and get the desired results by avoiding the tiniest mistakes you make during your gym time. Also, maintaining a balance between a healthy diet and workouts can go a long way in improving your gym performance.
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