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Top Ten Mistakes People Make in the Gym

  [ 122 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • March 19, 2003

A survey of 3,000 American Council on Exercise (ACE)-certified fitness professionals points out the biggest mistakes they see people making in the gym. In some cases, these mistakes may simply mean the difference between an effective and an ineffective workout. Other mistakes, however, can be more costly, leading to strain and injury. ACE, America’s Authority on Fitness, shares the following mistakes commonly made in the gym and also offers tips to help individuals stay safe during their workout.

1. NOT STRETCHING ENOUGH: Stretch immediately following an aerobic activity while your muscles are warm and pliable to prevent injuries.

2. LIFTING TOO MUCH WEIGHT: Never lift more than your muscles can handle. Gradual, progressive resistance is a far more effective-and safe-way to increase muscle strength.

3. NOT WARMING UP PRIOR TO ACTIVITY: Muscles need time to adjust to the new demands aerobic activity places on them. Start slowly and gradually increase intensity.

4. NOT COOLING DOWN AFTER ANY TYPE OF WORKOUT: Take a few minutes to lower your heart rate and stretch your muscles. This improves flexibility and helps prepare the body for your next workout.

5. EXERCISING TOO INTENSELY: It’s more effective to sustain a moderate workout for longer periods of time than to exercise intensely for only a few minutes.

6. NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water- you’re already on your way to dehydration. Keep a water bottle close at hand during exercise and throughout the day.

7. LEANING HEAVILY ON A STARISTEPPER: Leaning on the stairstepper is hard on both the wrists and the back. Lower the intensity to the point at which you can maintain good posture while lightly resting your hands on the rails for balance.

8. NOT EXERCISING INTENSELY ENOUGH: Exercise intensely enough to work up a light sweat and get your heart beating in your training zone.

9. JERKING WHILE LIFTING WEIGHTS: When you have to jerk the weight, you’re likely jerking other muscles as well. This can lead to strain and injury, with the muscles of the back being particularly vulnerable. Control the weight-don’t let it control you.

10. CONSUMING ENERGY BARS AND SPORTS DRINKS DURING MODERATE WORKOUTS: Unless you’re working out for longer than two hours per day, you don’t need to supplement with high-energy bars and drinks. (High-energy is often a code word for high-calorie.)

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