Every time I walk into a gym, I see and hear things that make me want to jump up and down, run over and fix! On the train home from work, I overhear conversations that make me giggle and hosting a TV reality show on Weight Loss I can honestly say there are many mistakes people are making in the gym and on their weight loss journey that can be fixed easily. Here are my top five mistakes people make in the gym. Join me on Facebook on Friday March 2nd, at noon CST to ask your questions about things you can do in the gym and how to make them better!
1. Stretch first. At some point in time it was ingrained into our heads that we need to stretch before we warm up or step on the treadmill. Some people say it just feels good while others believe it will help prevent injuries. The truth is that you should go through dynamic or moving stretches before doing any cardio activity with the simple exception of walking. Leg swings, waist twists, or small lunge movements with single arm reaches help bring blood flow and heat to the connective tissue and muscles. Static stretching signals a muscle to stay in length which may actually create an injury if you make a sudden movement without a proper warm up. Think toe point and flex, rotation moves and big patterns that mimic the cardio form you will be doing, then go run!
2. Target the muscle. Although we all have heard we cannot spot reduce, still there is some perception out there that targeting one muscle group at a time is the best way to workout. I see many people still doing dumb bell bicep curls- first on the right arm then on the left. The best way to workout is to use the entire body for each move. Many of do not have the time to spend two to three hours in the gym. Integrated or combining upper body and lower body movements together engage the core and burn more calories with each move.
3. Bench Press on the Press. Although more men perform this move more than women, it's still a pet peeve of mine and possible damage to the shoulder rotator cuff to do chest press with free weights on the bench. The most common error is lowering the weight below the bench and dropping the hands in as they lower. The hand should stay over the elbow throughout the movement and controlling the movement as they move against gravity instead of throwing it up in the air. Controlled movements accentuate each muscle fiber contraction. When we increase the speed just to finish a movement, we rely on momentum to carry the weight instead of the muscle.
4. Reading during your cardio. The one thing I see in every hotel gym is people reading while doing cardio. Exercise is a time to focus on the body and clear your mind. Please put down your books and think about your posture, your breath and your stride to be more effective with your cardio workouts. This simple step can increase your output up to 20% greater calorie burn... or changing the duration from 60 minutes to 40~! Then you have time to perform some total body exercises and stretch.
5. Protein Up. I see many people drinking protein shakes in the gym before their workouts. The truth is protein should be eaten at meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner instead of just before a workout. At breakfast think pure egg whites for a cholesterol free, calorie dense protein. Try Egg Beaters 100% Egg Whites for a simpler start by pouring them into a mug with some chopped veggies for fiber and microwave for 2-3 minutes. At lunch opt for lean tuna with barbeque sauce instead of mayonnaise and add 2 cups of mixed greens. At dinner try going meat free and try black beans with quinoa, fresh chopped broccoli and spices to round out your fiber for the day.
Remember, that good form goes a long way. For more information on making your workouts matter - check in on Facebook.com/andreametcalfhealth every Friday at noon CST to have your questions answered. If you question is chosen for a blog post, you will receive a free workout DVD.
Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle expert, best selling author of Naked Fitness and host/producer of Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, weight loss tv reality show on NBC Nonstop in Chicago. She blogs to inspire and education people to live healthier lives by being healthy and moved daily. Sign up for her FREE monthly newsletter at www.andreametcalf.com for more healthy lifestyle videos and tips. Andrea has sponsored content in some of her blog postings, however reflects her personal opinions and not necessarily those of the sponsor.