10 gym equipment errors!

2014March26_GymWorkouts_AWhen we go to the gym, we tend to lapse into a routine, often using the same equipment again and again. While this can be effective, many people commit common gym equipment errors while exercising. These mistakes can lead to muscle strain and injury, which can limit your workouts. In addition, they can also limit the calories that you burn, making for less efficient workouts.

Regularly going to the gym affords you the opportunity to make use of a great variety of equipment and training machines. However, there are certain errors that many people commit when using even the most common gym equipment that it’s worth knowing about. Here are 10:

1. Not entering your personal information

A lot of people neglect this step whenever they start on a new machine. Most gym machines are calibrated for a person weighing 150 pounds, but if your weight is nowhere near this then you can make a big difference in your workout just by personalizing the stats in your machine. This will give you a more accurate reading of the calories you burn and the amount of time that you need to spend on a particular machine to reach your goal.

2. Not adjusting the machine to suit you

Aside from entering personal information, you need to adjust the exercise machine in order to fit your physique and size. Not doing so can put you at risk of injury and might also not deliver the results that you want. For instance, using a leg extension machine that is not set to your size might put undue pressure on your knees, resulting in  injury. It will also not allow you to maximize your full range of motion. If you are having trouble adjusting a machine, ask a trainer to help you.

3. Carrying too many weighted plates

If you are using strength training equipment, avoid the mistake of selecting too many plates or too much weight. This may cause you to lose control of the plates, slamming them down loudly. Aside from being disruptive, this can also result in injury. Start out with a few less than you think is necessary and add weight as you progress through the workout.

4. Improper hand position

If you don’t position your hands on the equipment properly, you may not be maximizing the benefits that you get from each exercise. For instance, if you’re using the treadmill, you will burn more calories if you let go of the bars and just walk or run as you naturally would. If you’re not sure where to position your hands, refer to the instruction sheet on the machine, or ask a gym trainer for help.

5. Improper posture

Slouching, leaning, and hunching forward while using gym equipment all contribute to improper posture, which adversely affects your core and balance. For example, slouching on the elliptical trainer shortens your abs and cheats your upper body muscles of a proper workout. Hunching forward while using the treadmill can cause lower back pain and lead to an excessive forward lean. If you can’t keep your posture straight, try to slow down the speed and intensity of the machine.

6. Jerking during weight lifting

Jerking commonly happens when you’re lifting weights that are too heavy for you. This puts strain on smaller muscles and lessens the efficiency of your workout for target muscles. If you don’t do something about it, these muscles can get injured. Control the weight as necessary.

7. Working out without resistance

No matter how fast you are stepping on the elliptical trainer, you are not going to see results if your resistance is zero. Adding resistance makes working out more challenging as it pushes your body to its maximum efficiency. Training at a moderate pace with enough resistance is better than quickening your pace without any kind of resistance at all.

8. Putting too much pressure on your feet

If you are doing cardio workouts on machines like the treadmill or elliptical trainer, you might be putting too much pressure on your toes or slapping your feet on the machine. These movements can cause injury and muscle strain. Instead, practice proper form and balance so that you do not strain your feet and cut your workout short.

9. Focusing on a single body part

Another common mistake with treadmills and elliptical trainers is forgetting to exercise your arms as well. You might be so focused on the lower half of your body that you forget to also move your arms. Try working out at intervals – focusing on your arms for a minute, and then continuing your leg exercises for two minutes. That way, you target different muscle groups during your cardio workout.

10. Sticking with the same workouts

Remember, your body becomes stronger each day that you exercise, so sticking with the same workout routine day in and day out will make you burn fewer and fewer calories. As you get comfortable in your routine, your body adjusts and your muscles adapt. Make sure that you change your gym equipment routine at least every month. This will also prevent repetitive stress with the same muscles being used over and over again.

The next time you go to the gym, don’t just use a machine without thinking. Ask the help of a gym trainer in order to guide you in using the equipment properly and maximizing its benefits.

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