Want to receive the maximum benefit from your gym workouts? Performing strength training exercises with proper technique is the key to safe and effective results.
Avoid doing these things to get the maximum benefit at the gym:
Neglecting to warm up
The idea of a warmup is to begin gradually, allowing your heart rate to increase slowly, letting your body make a gradual transition into the workout.
• Rather than stretching cold muscles before a workout, it is recommended to warm up with a mild aerobic activity.
• When performing strength exercises, warm up with light cardio exercise or begin with a warmup set by using lighter weights.
• Warm up for five to 10 minutes.
Lifting too heavy and too fast
Throwing the weight usually is an indication that the weight is too heavy.
• You will be sacrificing good form by using momentum rather than muscle power.
• Swinging the weight will not only reduce effectiveness of the workout, but will increase risk of injuries.
• Moving slowly can actually allow you to produce more muscle force without putting extra stress on your joints.
Stretching before your workout might not reduce the risk of injury but it's important for flexibility. (Always warm up before stretching.)
• Loss of range of motion may begin as early as age 20; it can be regained with proper stretching.
• The preferred way to stretch for the average person is static stretching where you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds; no bouncing into the stretch.
• Stretch until you feel mild tension, never pain.
Never changing the workout
It is very easy to fall into a rut by repeating the same exercise routine over and over.
• Changing your routine at least every four or six weeks will help prevent you from becoming bored and hitting plateaus.
• The more variety, the more challenge for your muscles.
• Cross training (introducing a new activity) is a great way to condition different muscle groups.
n Treadmill Walking: Beginners may need to hold onto the side rails, but you eventually want to walk without holding, using your arms as you would normally while walking. If you hold onto the rails, it places your shoulders in an unnatural position, causing strain. It can put you into a constant leaning-forward posture. Not holding on helps improve balance and increases calories burned.
. Stationary Bike: While it offers the least impact on your joints, the seat must be adjusted properly to avoid knee strain. A good test for proper height is to have a very slight bend in the knee when you push the pedal to the floor.
Mistake 1: Having the seat too low limits your range of motion and can cause pain in the front of the knee.
Mistake 2: Having the seat too high can cause pain in the back of the knee and puts too much strain on the Achilles tendon.
Mistake 3: Hunching shoulders forward can strain back muscles. You want to sit erect with your back straight and your ears in line with shoulders.
, Lat Pulldown: While this is a very effective exercise to strengthen the lats (sides of back), if performed incorrectly, it will lose its effectiveness and can cause injuries. You want to contract abdominals and lean back just slightly. While pulling the bar to the top of the chest, elbows will be pointed downward.
Mistake 1: Pulling the bar down to waist level places undo stress on the shoulder and is an unnecessary movement as the lats are no longer engaged.
Mistake 2: Pulling the bar behind your neck places pressure on your spine and can eventually lead to shoulder issues such as impingement and rotator cuff tears.
Mistake 3: Using a "rock and roll" movement is not the way to go. While pulling the bar down, the upper back muscles and arms need to do all the work.
, Triceps Bar Pushdown: Standing tall, hold onto the bar with palms facing downward, arms bent to about 90 degrees. Keeping elbows attached to sides, push the bar downward with upper arms stationary, returning them to chest level without moving your elbows.
Mistake 1: Allowing elbows to move forward and back.
Mistake 2: Letting elbows open out to the sides.
Mistake 3: Leaning forward and moving the bar too fast.