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The top mistakes people make at the gym

Here are his top tips for avoiding gym-inflicted injury, niggles and pain.

Not warming up properly

Given the fact that most people sit at a desk all day, a proper warm up is essential for optimising gym performance and safety. Jumping on a bike or treadmill for 5-10 minutes is not the best warm up, and you’re leaving a lot on the table if that’s your go-to.

A proper warm up should aim to:

  • Mobilise your ‘tight’ areas like hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, ankles
  • Activate important and often inhibited muscles like glutes (your butt)
  • Increase core temperature
  • Excite the nervous and hormonal systems.

While this deserves an article all to itself, running through a more dynamic sequence of various movements (almost think like a yoga flow) along with some foam rolling and dynamic stretches will better prepare your body for a great session and help you maintain your movement quality.

Poor technique

This is one of the biggest issues in gyms everywhere. More often than not, people are doing their exercises with bad technique, increasing risk of injury and long-term niggles, aches and pains.

Your average person buys a gym membership and is often left to their own devices to figure out what to do on their own. Pair that with modern-day desk posture and its accompanying muscle imbalances, and you have a recipe for disaster. Seek out some help and learn proper training technique if you think you’re in this boat. You’ll reap the rewards forever.

Poor exercise selection

It’s common to see people show up to the gym and just randomly hop from one machine to the next, or pick an arbitrary sequence of exercises with no rhyme or reason. Exercises are tools that can help us achieve a goal, so it’s important we choose the right tool for the job. Bicep curls should not take up half of your training session.

Focus instead on compound strength exercises, these are exercises which use multiple muscle groups at the same time, think of them as BIG movements. Squats, deadlifts, push ups, lunges, chip ups, rows and variations of these exercises should be the staple of your strength training workouts.

These exercises give you the biggest bang for your buck and will give the best results. Save all the smaller isolation exercises for the end, or many time-poor people could even scrap them altogether and replace them with these bigger lifts.

Poor Programming

Exercise selection is important, and the order in which you do them is also important, for both safety and progress. Don’t start your workouts by smashing yourself with a lot of cardio first or focusing on direct arm work like bicep curls.

Start with the most complex exercises first which are the most taxing and have a higher risk of injury, (like deadlifts and squats) and then move through exercises which coincide with your goals.

Splitting your gym sessions into separate body part for separate days (ie. arm days and leg days) is a common program many people adopt.

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