Frequent gym goers most likely have a set routine in place. Maybe you go from the cardio to the free weights, then over to the stretching area. Or maybe you head to the weight machines first and then pump some miles out on the elliptical. If you hit the gym frequently and then gloat to your friends about all the hours and energy you’re putting into your workouts, then it’s time for some introspection: You could be wasting precious time at the gym with some nasty habits that are hard to break.
It’s important to remember your bad workout habits are only holding you back, and getting the most out of each second of your workout is how you achieve the results you want. So, put down your smartphone, take off your gym gloves, and don’t skip right out the gym door without doing your stretches first. Here are five bad gym habits that must be broken to achieve your fitness goals.
1. Wearing gloves during weight training
Gloves make it easier to grip your weights, and this helps support your forearms so you can do more reps with ease. This is exactly why it’s time to throw those gloves to the side and lift your weights without them. StrongLifts explains gloves kill grip strength, and you’ll only achieve more strength in your grip if you use these muscles without any aid. Gloves can even be bad for your technique, as they add thickness and distance between the bar and your wrists during bench presses, which can result in wrist pain and injury over time.
If you think your gloves are protecting you from the formation of calluses on your hands, then they likely aren’t helping much here either. Do yourself a favor and rid yourself of this gym habit. If you can’t lift your normal amount of weight without gloves, get going on building your grip strength.
2. Forgetting to stretch when you’ve finished your workout
We’ve learned static stretching before your workout begins isn’t necessarily best. In preparation for your workout, a light warm-up with dynamic stretching is the better route. But what about when you’re finished with your routine? Stretching is a crucial component to any fitness plan, especially if you’re spending more time in the weight room than on the cardio machines, because it’s key for muscle recovery.
Men’s Fitness says forgetting your post-workout stretches could lead to a world of pain later. When you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting and your hamstrings gradually become stronger and tighter from a lack of stretching, your pelvis is being pulled down, which can change the curve of your spine over time. Eventually, your posture is affected as well, and this posterior pelvic tilt is worsened from sitting all day long at a desk job, too. When you’re adding heavy weight to these tight hamstrings, this could lead to a vertebral herniation. Do yourself a favor and stretch to increase your mobility to continue working out safely.
3. Using your phone
There are some gyms out there that have a strict ban on cellphone use, but this isn’t the case with all of them. Whatever the rule for your gym may be, there’s nothing worse for your workout and your motivation than logging into Facebook, texting, or checking out Snapchat.
The way you improve in fitness is by keeping the intensity high, and you can’t do that if your phone constantly distracts you. Using your smartphone as a music player is fine, but then put it down so you can focus on why you’re at the gym in the first place.
The best way to burn fat and increase your stamina is by keeping your heart rate working at 85% of its maximum, and if you’re having trouble staying focused during steady-state cardio, go for a HIIT workout instead. HIIT workouts are designed to get your heart pumping using intervals that range between extremely difficult and intermediate in intensity, and they only last about 20 minutes. These types of workouts will ensure you’re never bored enough to check your phone at the gym again.
You love the endorphins you get from going to the gym, and you’re beginning to see progress, so you go the next day, and the next day, and the day after that. Soon, you’re hitting the gym every day and results halt, you have no energy, and you completely lose focus on your workouts. What gives? You could be overtraining, which is a seriously bad workout habit that can lead to exhaustion and injury.
We understand craving movement at the end of a long workday, but you’ll need to be careful you don’t train too hard, as overtraining can take weeks, or even months, to fully recover from. BuiltLean explains overtraining can bring a complete halt to your results, as working out too much can actually result in muscle loss and fat accumulation due to a hormonal imbalance. Your sympathetic nervous system also goes into overdrive from the excessive training, and this can cause restlessness and a lack of focus. You also may feel chronically sore and sluggish all day long, no matter how much sleep you get. Do yourself a favor and schedule active rest days in between your hard workouts to avoid overtraining.
5. You never change your routine
It’s easy to go to the gym and follow the same routine every time, but to see real progress, you’ll have to vary things. Your body’s smarter than you think. If you’re running three miles every day, then doing 10 pull-ups, it’s eventually going to get too easy. Your body has become too used to this exercise, and it’s a bad gym habit way too many people fall into.
Constantly sticking to the same routine can also put you at risk for an overuse injury. To keep yourself safe and and consistently see gains, focus on a different area of the body each day for strength and flexibility, and try a HIIT workout for cardio to keep your body guessing. Greatist suggests changing up your workouts by increasing weight and decreasing reps or trying out new moves that are totally foreign to you. You’ll see results faster than ever before.