6 Mistakes to Avoid at the Gym

POPSUGAR FitnessSource: 6 Mistakes to Avoid at the Gym

Squeezing in a gym session can be tricky, so you want to make your time there worthwhile. In order to strengthen your muscles effectively and prevent injury, make sure to avoid these six common workout mistakes.

  • Not Warming Up or Cooling Down: Be sure to take at least five minutes before and after your workout to warm up and cool down. Ten additional minutes can help prevent those frustrating keep-you-out-of-the-gym injures.
  • Showing Up on an Empty Stomach: Your car won't run without fuel, so why should you? About 30 to 90 minutes before hitting the gym, make sure to eat an easily digestible snack that's 40 to 100 grams of carbs with a low amount of fat. It's a good idea to keep the fiber content to a minimum, since high-fiber foods can be difficult to digest. Toast with nut butter, a banana, cheese with a couple crackers, or yogurt are great pre-workout choices. Definitely don't chow down immediately before your workout, as that can result in tummy issues, as well.
  • Doing the Same Cardio Routine Every Time: While the treadmill is proven to get your heart rate up effectively and burn calories, it's important not do the same cardio routine day after day. Not only is it boring to your brain, but it's not challenging your muscles either. So mix up your cardio workout by alternating between cardio machines, classes, and the pool. It'll end up working more muscles, make you stronger overall, and also prevent overuse injuries.

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  • Not Varying Your Strength-Training Routine: After you do the same thing over and over again, your muscles will adapt and hit a plateau, so it's important to change it up every couple weeks. Vary the types of exercises you do and the order you do them in, the muscles you work, the amount of reps, the amount of weight, and the equipment you're using.
  • Using Weights That Are Too Light: When strength training, you want to use weights that fatigue your muscles after 10 to 12 reps. So if you find you can do 30 and you're still not tired, it's time to increase the amount of weight you're lifting. That may mean you need to vary the size weights you use per exercise. Use heavier weights for harder exercises and lighter weights for easier ones.
  • Not Stretching: Stretching doesn't burn as many calories as the same amount of time doing cardio, but it's equally important. Stretching will keep your muscles flexible, prevent pain and injuries, and improve your posture. Cold muscles don't stretch well, though, so do your stretching routine after cardio, once your muscles are warmed up.

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