When it comes to gym etiquette, most of us already know the basics like avoiding cellphone conversations and re-racking weights. However, there are plenty of lesser-known blunders that could be disrupting others or affecting your progress and overall health. With that in mind, here are six of the most common mistakes people make in the gym that you should avoid if you want to supercharge your results and not be “that person” at the gym.
1. Never Sit Down During a Leg Workout.
After completing a grueling set of squats, your only thought may be to sit down and rest before beginning again. Taking a rest of a second or two is ok; however taking long seated breaks in between your sets on leg day is actually counterproductive to your workout. Instead of sitting down, walking around will help rid the muscle of the byproducts of high-intensity training that can cause muscle fatigue. When you sit between sets, you’re reducing and limiting the flow of blood to your muscles, which will take longer to get ready for your next set. Catching your breath, while keeping your legs moving, will make for a faster and stronger recovery.
2. Never Blindly Copy Someone Else’s Workout Routine.
Observing those around you at the gym is a good place to start when learning new exercises, however it’s just that – a start. Just because someone who appears to be physically fit is doing an exercise doesn’t means they’re executing it correctly. This is a quick way for your exercise technique to go bad. Instead talk to your personal trainer or do research on your own about the proper technique and execution of exercises.
3. Never Add Weight Without Nailing Your Form First
Those who are new to lifting often sacrifice their form in order to make quick weight progressions. This is never a good idea, especially when performing whole-body lifts like squats and deadlifts. Proper form for a bicep curl is easier to learn than how to correctly execute a deadlift. Rather than being in a rush to add weights to the bar, meet with a personal trainer or watch credible exercise videos to make sure that you are nailing your form. It will make a huge difference in your fitness and supercharge your results.
Tip for new personal trainers: Try to look for people that are performing an exercise without proper form and give them guidance on how to perform it correctly and why it’s important. This shows that you’re friendly, helpful, and can provide knowledge they may not already have, making you look like a valuable asset for their workouts. The more they see how much your guidance has improved their results, the more likely they will be willing to pay for your personal training services. Need to learn more about personal training? Look in to obtaining a personal training diploma, the highest standard as far as personal training certification and education programs go.
4. Never Think that Cardio is Enough
Many gym regulars believe that a strictly cardiovascular exercise program will get them awesome results. Although they are partially correct, incorporating strength training may burn more calories. At age 30 we can begin to lose muscle and gain fat, so it’s important to incorporate strength training to build up lean muscle while increasing metabolism. Adding strength training to your workout routine at least 2-3 times a week will produce the best results.
5. Never Use a Mat or Bench Without Cleaning It.
Whether you are using a cardio machine, weight machine, mat or bench, it is common courtesy and respectful to fully wipe off your machine after use. Sweat, make-up or anything else is always left on equipment, whether you are intensely exercising or hardly working out. By wiping down any handles, seats or benches that you may have laid on or leaned against, you are helping keep your gym clean and sanitary. Plus, as others around you see you doing your part to keep the machines clean, they will be more inclined to do the same which results in cleaner equipment for you when you begin your next set.
6. Never Get Comfortable
One of the fundamental principles of exercising is based on a concept called “progressive overload.” Your muscle fibers respond by growing bigger and stronger when you add weight to your exercises, rest and provide them proper nutrition. When you become too comfortable with a routine and stop adding weights or pushing for more reps, your body has no reason to adapt any further. Becoming comfortable putting your workout on cruise control will not help you see results and make significant progress. Once you feel yourself becoming comfortable with a specific amount of weight for a workout, challenging yourself to try more weight or more reps will bring you better results.
To learn more about how to best conduct yourself at the gym, read our post on proper gym etiquette.