By Chris Giblin Men's Fitness
If youíve just started hitting the gym more frequently, or just really getting into fitness more than ever before, itís natural to want to feel more experienced than you are. Going to the gym is just something you do now, just like that bodybuilder who hasnít skipped a day in four years. However, you canít be as nonchalant as the guys that have that familiarity and muscle memory that comes with years of constant work and repetition in the gym. Just constantly be mindful of the concept of making steady, progressive gains while preventing injury and you should be one of the knowledgeable, fit guys before long. We spoke with fitness expert, speaker and certified strength and conditioning specialist Steve Ettinger about what some common but not obvious mistakes are often made by new fitness buffs.
6/ Spending too much time in the gym.
This might seem ironic, but itís a concept you should take into account for the sake of your body, and your schedule. If youíre spending two hours a day in the gym, itís simply too much unless, perhaps, if youíre training for some competition that requires an elite level of athleticism (in which case, youíre not a newb). ďSometimes, Iíll spend a week doing 10-minute workouts when Iím just really on point,Ē Ettinger says. ďIf youíre in the gym for two hours, chances are a lot of that is just busy work.Ē So when you arrive at the gym, have an idea of what you want to do and work hard, and donít take long breaks. Itís the classic quality over quantity concept.
5/ Doing stretch-holds before a workout.
In the past few years, thereís been plenty of evidence, most recently from a UNLV study, on the superiority of dynamic stretching over static stretching as a warm-up to exercise. If youíre looking to push your muscles to their limits, itís been found that static stretching can hinder your strength and performance by a bit, but more importantly, dynamic stretching helps your transition into a workout by putting your muscles through their maximum range of motion, rather than simply holding your muscle in an elongated state for a period of time. Get moving before you work out and save the static stretching for later.
4/ Ignoring proper exercise form.
If youíre doing an exercise like squats or something with free weights with incorrect form, hopefully, someone will come over to help you. Then again, a lot of guys arenít watching out for that, plus he may not know the exact proper technique himself. Obviously, without proper technique, youíre risking injury any time you do such an exercise, and if youíre lucky, youíll just feel uncomfortable and wonít gain as much as you should from any given exercise. ďEven if you donít want to hire a trainer on an ongoing basis, I would recommend paying one for a session just to get all of the proper techniques down, whatever exercises you might be interested in,Ē Ettinger says.
3/ Trying to do too much, too soon.
ďTrying to do too much too soon might just set yourself up for failure,Ē Ettinger says. This is definitely related to the ďSpending too much time in the gymĒ concept, but itís directed more toward guys who try to go all out for as long as they can, rather than having a casual stay at the gym for hours. If youíre just getting more active again after a long hiatus (or if youíre becoming more active than ever), itís important to understand that the results you want wonít come through in a couple weeks of practically kill yourself at the gym. Using that method will only leave you frustrated that you havenít gone through a very noticeable transformation yet, plus youíll need too much recovery time, if you donít get injured first. Slow and steady wins the race Ė doing too much can lead to burnout.
2/ Neglecting to keep track of progress.
Itís best to keep a log so you can have some sort of tracking system for your workouts. It doesnít take too much effort, and it will make it more evident when you need to work certain muscle groups over others and whether or not you should be progressing to the next level in certain exercises. This will help you have a more set plan and focus on your workouts.
1/ Lacking to have to focus.
Just going to the gym is more than half the battle, but once you get there, you might as well be making the most out of the time youíre spending. With all the commotion and different machine options, itís easy to just wing it, which can sometimes still lead to a good, fatiguing and satisfying workout. For most guys though, itís better to go in with a focus, knowing pretty much exactly what you want to do and how long you want it to take. ďYou can be looking at 20 different workout programs at once, so donít get overwhelmed,Ē Ettinger says. ďIf you just focus on one workout that targets a few areas, youíll see a progression of solid gains.Ē