Working out ain’t easy and if you’re not doing it right your efforts can feel like a waste when you don’t see the results you were hoping and working for. Workout Pros know how to be focused in the gym and make the most of their workouts, so they can attain those bodylicious results. They go in with a clear focus of what they need to do, how they need to do it and in what time they need to get it done…making for efficient and productive workouts every time. The good news is, many of the behaviors and habits I see stoping people from achieving productive workouts are avoidable!
A quick scan of the gym on any day and I see a diverse group of goal-hungry gym goers. Despite the varying levels of fitness, ages, body types, ability levels, goals, etc., all people can be separated into two categories: those that know how to workout efficiently and those that do not. While it’s wonderful to just see people in the gym putting in the time to better themselves, their time there could be even better geared towards the results that they crave with just a little gym-ucation. Review your gym habits to see if you are guilty of any of these common pitfalls and improve your workouts today!
Bad Habit #1: Focus
What I see: Distraction…distraction everywhere. Now I myself am guilty of this at times, but usually I go into the gym knowing ahead of time if I’m there just to get it in or if I’m there to truly be productive.
The Issue: If you can browse social media, carry on a full phone conversation, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, etc then chances are you’re not working at capacity nor at the target range for results. I’m going to expand on this more in the sections below to highlight some of the most common focus limiting distractions I see.
What I recommend: FOCUS ON YOUR RESULTS and what it truly takes to get there. I.E., what you went to the gym to do in the first place: WORKOUT!
Bad Habit #2: Distracted Cardio
What I See: Inconsistent and inefficient movement/pacing on cardio machines. For example: pedaling while trying to read a book, trying to do crosswords on the elliptical, or being hunched over on the stair master while trying to watch video.
The Issue: The mind is overly distracted in such a way that the muscles aren’t moving as intended. Often we are moving less than we imagine and adjusting speeds and intensity based off of the media we are trying to consume, rather than the goals we really want to achieve. In addition to interfering with your productivity, it can also lead to poor posture, muscle imbalances and injury if you’re not careful.
What I recommend: Audio books or Music. I love prefer audio books because I noticed with music I tend to listen to the same songs over and over again, so at least with books I can take in new information – plus I feel like I’m getting double the workout stimulation (physical and mental). The point is to find something that can be a helpful distraction without sacrificing your form or productivity.
Bad Habit #3: Socializing
What I see: People engaged in full on conversations via text, email, social media, phone calls (and even other chatty gym members).
The Issue: This seems like it can be a great time to catch up with people, but in addition to often being an annoying distraction to other gym goers, you’re also slowing down your own progress. If you can carry on a full conversation without being out of breath, then you’re not pushing yourself enough. Similarly, if you’re able to video chat, engage in an active text conversation or social media thread then your likely more distracted than productive as these activities interfere with your focus, your posture, pacing and your intensity.
What I recommend: Put the world on DND! The gym time is YOU time. Allow yourself to be selfish and take that small amount of your day to just do you. Everything and everyone else can wait…trust me, they will still be there with whatever gossip, drama, entertainment, news, etc., once you’re finished with your workout.
Bad Habit #4: Netflix & Curls
What I see: People attempting to watch media on their mobile devices while doing Hamstring curls (especially the lying ones) and really ANY machine based resistance training.
The issue: This leads to lack of full range of motion, lack of full muscle engagement, lack of reps and too much rest.
What I recommend: Put ALL of your focus on YOU and YOUR WORKOUT. If you’re not using your phone as a timer for your set/reps or to remember your workout exercises then lock it up in a locker or even leave it in your car. If you do use your phone as a timer then stay in your timer app and out of media distractions while you workout.
Bad Habit #4: Too Much Rest Between Sets
What I see: This comes in two forms: people doing a few reps then sitting….doing a one or two reps and then sitting more or those that get in a great set with a good rep count, but then get distracted between sets because they don’t time them.
The Issue: It’s easy to waste 3-5 minutes between sets, and with the “proper” distractions that 3-5 minutes can often feel like 1-2. Before you know it you’ve spent more time resting than actually working out. Too much rest means that we’re not properly fatiguing our muscles, and thus not working them hard enough to get results.
What I recommend: If working out with a trainer isn’t an option for you then use a tabata timer or other workout app. There are lots of free ones that you can set before your workout and will keep you focused and productive during your workout.
Bad Habit #5: Form
What I see: People just going through the motions…seriously any motion. In addition to improper form, this also includes incorrect usage of equipment.
The Issue: Improper form means the key muscles that should benefit from particular machine aren’t being engaged or used properly. As a result, the goals you’re hoping to achieve likely won’t be. Improper use of machines and muscle activation can also lead to injury.
What I recommend: If you aren’t familiar with machines, what exercises to do or how to perform them properly then I highly recommend getting a trainer. Even if you only do a few sessions, this will allow you to ask questions, get to know the equipment, work on proper form, and learn how to workout properly. Once you are empowered with this basic knowledge, you can go into any future gym session with a basic understanding of what to do and how to properly do it.
Bad Habit #6: Programming
What I See: This one comes in a huge variety of uh-ohs. Most often it looks like this: people doing a few reps, sitting a lot then doing a few more reps before bouncing off to the next machine, or someone using every machine in the gym in a single workout, but not actually getting a workout.
The Issue: Inconsistent or improper reps/sets, improper weight selection, no clear focus on target area/body parts, poor exercise selection, improper use of equipment, etc. Not enough rest or too much rest (as mentioned above) between sets is also an important part of programming.
What I recommend: As mentioned above in the Form section, a personal trainer can help immensely with this. If you workout with a trainer then they will be responsible for your programming and ensuring that you are on track towards your goals via the proper workout plan, progressions and regressions. But there are other options, such as having a trainer write a personal workout program for you that you can follow or even purchasing an online workout plan from a company – the only issue with these mass produced workout plans is that they are cookie cutter and not tailored to your current level of ability or your personal goals.
Bad Habit #7: Rest & Recovery
What I see: People going too hard in the paint and taking every class, doing more than their trainer tells them to do, staying up too late or waking up too early to get extra workouts in or anything else above the recommended daily energy expenditure required for those goals and caloric intake.
The issue: Doing too much can be counter productive to your effort and goals. We often think that doing more will get us to results faster and better we couldn’t be more wrong.
What I recommend: Part of a well-balanced fitness regimen is taking rest days to allow your body to recover and repair (much of this happens during sleep!). Without this time, the weight loss, muscle building, body toning, strength and conditioning gains you’ve been working so hard towards will go unseen. In addition to sleeping and integrating at least one rest day into your weekly workouts, adding an active recovery component such as foam rolling, regular massages, soaking, and stretching will aid your efforts.
Bad Habit #8: Counterproductive Eating and Drinking
What I see: There are two extremes. The first are those that do not eat enough thinking that limiting their intake will help them reach their weight loss goals faster. The second are those that will follow their nutrition/meal plans and eat healthy according to their goals….that is until the weekend, their day off or “cheat day” hits and then they just go balls to the walls.
The Issue: Not eating enough and trying to starve yourself skinny couldn’t be more wrong, you need food to fuel the body so that you can work out efficiently and lose weight (or build muscle). If you starve your body it will actually hold onto food, affect your overall daily functionality and counteract your efforts. When it comes to over indulging during your weekend turn-up or cheat day you end up consuming more calories which negates everything you worked so hard for until that point and ultimately leads to weight gain.
What I Recommend: Keep track of what you consume so that you can see where you are taking in excess of unnecessary foods and not enough of the necessary foods. Regardless of the day, still eat (and drink) in moderation. Don’t overindulge. Instead, keep your eye on the prize regardless of the day.
PSST: If you haven’t heard I am now offering personal training! So if you (or anyone you know) is ready to add the FIT to your FLEXYFIT then give me a shout to get started on your fitness goals TODAY!