The latest statistics from 2016 on obesity and overweight population rates show that 58% of women and 68% of men in the UK are either obese or overweight. On the other hand, 26% of adults were classed as inactive, that means they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.
Luckily, the latest data on gym memberships in 2017 shows a whopping 5.1% growth compared to data from 2016. This is great news and probably is linked to the expansion of more affordable low-cost gym chains. However, we also know that at the start of each year there is a significant increase in new members everywhere that drops back down to ‘normal’ levels by the time we get to Easter.
Have you got plans to give it a go again in the New Year or even start it before Christmas to prevent gaining holiday weight? Making good use of gym equipment requires some experience, knowledge of exercises and great technique to prevent injuries.
If you’re new to exercise, you are better off hiring a personal trainer or joining group classes. They are run by a qualified trainer who will look after you and ensure you learn good form and give your all to it. If you decide to use the gym on your own, I recommend doing your research so you will be well equipped and won’t feel intimidated in the weights section. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid in the gym.
Mistake #1. Not focusing on compound lifts
Doing squats, deadlifts, chest press, pull-ups and press-ups will challenge and improve your body’s overall strength, work your deep core muscles, help you develop a better posture and burn more calories than isolated resistance training. Try to include them into each of your gym sessions or at least 2-3 times a week.
Mistake #2. Not lifting heavy enough
Jumping around with 1-2kg dumbbells may get your heart rate up. Body pump or similar weight based classes can be a good way of training for muscular endurance. If you’d like to get stronger, boost your fat loss progress and build nicely toned and shaped muscles, you want to get into hypertrophy and strength training.
That can only be done if you progress your weights to push your limits as you get stronger. Imagine doing a set of 12 reps of squats. Towards rep 8-9 you should feel your muscles burning (NOT hurting) but you are still able to perform the reps with good form. That is your ideal weight for that set.
Mistake #3. Spending too much time doing cardio
In brief, our body has three energy systems. Depending on the effort and force required to perform a lift or exercise, one or more of these will activate. Ideally, you’d like all three systems to improve as you progress in your workouts.
This means you should be looking at:
This may sound like a lot but if your workouts are designed carefully, you can achieve it with 2-4 gym sessions and one or two long walks per week.
Mistake #4. Not having proper technique
The danger is that incorrect exercise form poses high risk of injury on your body, ranging from mild to severe or even life-changing consequences in some cases.
If you haven’t had any experience in weight lifting or how to use the resistance machines, make sure you contact a member of staff. Alternatively you can hire a trainer to teach you and help you train until you become confident.
Mistake #5. Resting too long
How long you should rest between sets or exercises depends on what you’d like to achieve in the gym. Unless you have very specific muscle, strength or athletic endurance goals, you don’t need to use a stopwatch.
However, taking too long between sets and exercises might result in your muscles going cold and make you more prone to injuries. You should go through 5-10 minutes of warm-up routine before you get into your main workout and ensure you stay warm throughout.
Mistake #6. Spending too much time on social media
Allowing your phone to distract you from your workout will likely result in less effort. When in the gym, focus on what you’re doing. It’s only 45-60 minutes, turn your notifications off or leave your phone in your locker to make the most out of your time in the gym.
Mistake #7. Paying your membership but not attending
That’s just wrong on many fronts. Firstly, it’s a waste of your money. Even if you only pay about £20 per month for a low-cost gym membership, that becomes £240 per year. Imagine how many coffees you could have for that.
Secondly, you miss out on an amazing opportunity to use a range of quality exercise equipment and the expertise of trainers to help you reach your fitness goals. Have a think about what stops you from attending.
Do you feel intimidated? Try a different time slot when the gym is less busy or ask a member of staff to give you a tour and show you how to use the equipment. Many clubs do basic programming at a low rate or even for free.
Are you not committed enough? Look at other options then, join structured and goal oriented group classes, so you can enjoy the benefits of being trained by personal trainers in a group setup. A little more money, more commitment and a whole lot of more support to keep you accountable.
Have you got questions on any of the above? Feel free to message the team!
Gareth Allen - Personal Trainer and Owner.