November 28, 2012 10.26 am This story is over 114 months old

Lincoln fitness: 9 mistakes you make at the gym

Get it right: Personal trainer Ross Burns highlights common errors made during gym time, and how easy it is to combat them.

Not bringing your music

I could go into detail on this one, but do us all a favour and make sure you bring your best jams. Most people with bubbly personalities or too many friends in the gym tend to talk too much. That means not only are you messing my workout up, but your also hurting yours. Music is also a great motivator. There is nothing like getting ready for a lift or running on the treadmill listening to that one song that gets you fired up.

What gets you fired up? Make a play-list of your top 10 most motivating songs and hit shuffle. Your workouts will get better.

Only doing your skill set

We all do it in more areas of our life than fitness. We like to do what we are good at. It’s time to step it up and do something new. If all you do are lunges and the rower because you think your great at them, then try one of the other hundred ways of working legs.

It’s nice to be really good at a few things but you want to be good at as many things as you can. It also adds a challenge to your workouts. Doing something new usually causes you to either drop weight or spend more time mastering. It’s like your starting from scratch! Embrace it.

Plan it out

Where are you going to go? What are you going to be doing between sets? What exercises are you going to do first? Which ones are your compound exercises and which ones are not? How much weight did you do last time? How are you going to change your program up this week to support progression? Most of these questions need to be worked out before you start moving around.

Call me old school, but I love writing everything down so I know where to challenge myself next week and what needs to change for the next month cycle. Sure you can just walk in to a gym and start moving stuff around but you’re not going to get far. So if you’re serious about seeing results, start writing.

Lifting with your friends

I have lifted with small groups of guys before and the majority of the time gets spent messing around and getting too much of nothing done. Stick to one partner or none at all (see my next point). The more people you have, the less you can get done; 45 minute workouts turn into 1:15 minute workouts.

You may have all the motivation and drive in the world, but banking on the rest of the guys/ladies your with to have that same drive — don’t hold your breath. Stop using the gym as your social hour.

Inviting other people along

I am blessed to have a beast partner that pushes me and is always down to try new things. We are seeing results and getting things done. I had partners in the past that always showed up late or never at all, and never really changed much up. I just wasn’t there to do that and like anyone else, time is precious.

These kinds of partners are not going to help you get results. You’re better off lifting alone to get more things done, or get a trainer who will crack on with what you want to do, and do more than you imagined you could do in the same time frame.

Lift until you’re blue in the face

Do me a favour for a few weeks: try not going into ultimate failure and then some with every set. Tone it down some. Do as many reps as you can with perfect form then hang it up. You can do this with any rep range, whether it’s a low rep or high.

Do what you can with good form and leave it alone. This protects your central nervous system from being over worked and not being able to help repair your body after your workouts. You will feel better and recover faster for the next time.

Lift with your other half

Only do this if you two-part ways the minute you walk into the door. Odds are she is afraid to do anything heavy and will walk over to a few machines and end up in the stability ball and band area. If you take the time to explain to her the importance of doing heavy weights and compound exercises and she is on board, then let her join you.

My other half is pretty rocking. She will do just about anything I tell her to as long as it’s not going to put her life in danger (although sometimes there is always that chance). She is willing to push heavier weights and stay away from the bosu balls. Total respect for you ladies doing work in the gym!

Being a member of a commercial gym

Meat market, drama, and clickish tendencies is what I hear the most coming from these places. They are great for the classes and variety of equipment, but if you’re like any other social person your workouts could turn into a social hour. I’m not knocking them completely. Total respect for the guys and gals who go into those places and grind out killer workouts and not get mixed up in all the mess! However the hottest gyms are the little hole in the wall studios you see around town.

Working for a franchise gym as a trainer for a little while gave me somewhat of a feel for the bigger gym atmosphere. Spending most of my career in small studios has really allowed me to grow a passion for the smaller studio feel. It’s just better. You get the family atmosphere, and depending on the owner, you can find some pretty odd objects to use in your workout.

Doing olympic lifts with straps

I have heard horror stories of newbies trying to hang clean or full clean weights and actually breaking their wrists, because of the weight and lack of proper technique. You can’t clean tons of weight and expect your wrists to have the proper range of motion (along with the rest of your arms) as a newbie. If you’re new to the clean, then go light and work on your catch and range of motion when it’s at rest (top position).

Catch with your elbows pointing straight out and landing the bar across your upper chest and shoulders. If your grip is suffering, then spend some extra time on your off days working on grip exercises.

Bringing the phone

Leave the phone in your car. Nowadays, you probably send well over a thousand texts a month, if not more. You don’t need to have that thing right on your side the whole time. Facebook, Twitter and emails all get sent to our phones, which means you’re probably checking some kind of notification every few minutes. This is time away from your lifts. Whatever it is can wait.

If it’s an emergency, then let those people know where you are. What happened to just calling the main building the person was in? Now, if you’re doing everything I say, then you’re probably lifting at a small local studio, therefore they can call you there almost directly.

Don’t worry, I am guilty of this too. I hate it when I catch myself wasting time looking at an email or post. It’s all about productivity!

Ross Burns is a community fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Lincoln. He also regularly blogs on his website about common fitness queries and issues, and run his own gym.