New Year fitness: Most common gym mistakes

11 Dec 2009
Most common gym mistakes

Want to train like a seasoned pro in the gym? Then avoid the below silliness.

Warming up with just a jog
To prepare your muscles for the work they’re about to undertake, do ten minutes on the treadmill or rower, followed a series of bodyweight squats, lunges, twists and bends. Then do one set with very light weights to prime your muscles for action.
Picking the wrong weight
If the weight’s too light you won’t place your muscles under enough tension to have any meaningful muscle-building effect. If it’s too heavy you won’t be able to perform the exercise with perfect form. Trial and error is the only way to find the weight that’s right for you on any given exercise.
Always sticking to your favourite moves
The body needs variety if it's going to keep growing muscle. Routine leads to stagnation, so consistently introduce new exercises to your workouts if you want to keep seeing positive results.
Swinging your arms too much when doing barbell curls
This will lead to back pain, not bulging biceps. You need to hold your body still, tuck in your elbows and
raise and lower the bar slowly through your elbow’s full range of motion.
Running in the ‘fat burning zone’
Have you seen those charts on running machines that say ‘fat burning zone’ and encourage you to run at below 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate? Forget them. While it’s true that at that pace a greater percentage of your calorie-burn comes from fat, you burn so few calories in total that you’d need to run for hours to get any realistic benefits. Do short, intense runs to burn fat effectively in a short space of time.
Arching your back on the bench press
The bench press is the ultimate test of upper-body strength. But if you can’t raise the bar without lifting your hips off the bench and arching your back, the weight is too heavy. You won't get anywhere until you lighten it.
Wearing a weight belt and wrist straps
Are you an Olympic weight lifter? No? Then don’t wear a lumbar belt or wrist straps when lifting. If you feel you can’t get by without them, you need to work on your core strength and grip. If you think they make you look cool and professional, you're deluded.
Doing crunches to lose belly fat
Crunches – using your stomach muscles to curl your shoulders off the floor – are great for building abs, but useless at burning away the layer of fat that obscures them. To get rid of your flabby belly you need a combination of good diet, regular cardio and all-body weight-training sessions.

Next New Year fitness guide: Training myths

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