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Simple Gym Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Fitness Gains

Fix these bad practices and see how your body improves
by Wayne Joseph Tulio | Sep 19, 2017
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You’ve seen all the Jose Mari Chan memes and you may have heard some Christmas songs being played at the malls. Yes, gents, it’s the last stretch of the year and at the gym, it’s that period where you can make each workout count before the feasting begins.  

But as more guys get their #BeastMode on, basic mistakes also start trending. It’s a common trap as you progress and sometimes, it’s these little nuances that prevent you from achieving the fitness goals you’ve set. Here’s how you can avoid these five things that hamper you from taking the road to gains.

Gym Mistake #1: Belittling the warm-up  

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A little stretch here and there and you should be good to go, right? Not really. “It’s important for the body to be prepared for the moves it’s about to undergo,” says Stephanie Pagarigan, C.S.C.S., a freelance fitness coach and lecturer at the Sports Science Department of the University of Santo Tomas. She adds that you need to gradually increase blood flow to “allow muscles and joints to move more efficiently during your session.” It also helps prep the cardiovascular system adapt to increased intensity.

As for the moves you must do, “you should be moving the whole body and allow your heart rate to go up gradually.” Do moves like bodyweight squats, some light jogging or shuffles, and planks and other moves that mimic the exercises you’ll be doing.

Gym Mistake #2: Not minding rest periods

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People get so focused on intensity of exercises that they forget how much rest is needed afterwards. For weight training for example, different loads require different rest periods because of the energy systems used by the body.

If you’re lifting heavy loads (between 85 to 100% of your 1 rep max), you should be resting between 3-5 minutes, Pagarigran says. For endurance work and hypertrophy where you lift between 75-85% of your 1 rep max, rest range should be 1.5 to 3 minutes. Lighter than that, you can rest for shorter periods.

“They serve as [recovery] intervals in between exercises so the body would have enough energy to execute the moves,” adds Pagarigran. “Sufficient rest and recovery make you benefit more from your routine while preventing injury caused by fatigue.”


Gym Mistake #3: Lack of balance in your routine

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When you start to feel your workout is working, it’s easy to fall into that trap of wanting to do it all the time. Doing that makes you susceptible to two things: burnout and muscle overuse.

“You don’t want to go all out all the time. Frequency and intensity should be varied to give your body an allowable period to recover and adapt,” says Timothy Ting, C.S.C.S., P.N.-1, a fitness and nutrition consultant at Fitness Armory in Quezon City, and nutrition consultant at Movement Manila in Makati City.

Doing the same exercises all the time also leads to a world of hurt. “Hitting the same muscles without ample recovery could turn muscle micro tears from previous sessions into an injury which is counterproductive for your goals,” Ting adds. As a general rule, variety is your friend gents. It prevents boredom and constant changes also add that shock factor your body craves to get fitter, faster, and stronger.

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Gym Mistake #4: Skipping the water station

If you’re under the notion that water is for the weak and is only good at the end of your session, you better reconsider your mantra. “The body is made up of 60 to 70% water and it’s involved in almost all metabolic processes. When we exercise, we depend on these processes to regulate our body to function efficiently,” says Ting.

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He adds that as little as 1 to 2% loss of body water can already impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature. It gets worse as you sweat more. Make sure you stay adequately hydrated. Ting recommends drinking 1 to 2 cups of water an hour before an activity and about half a cup to 1 cup every 30 minutes during your session. Once done, ensure you drink at least a cup every 1 to 2 hours.

Gym Mistake #5: You don’t cool down

What you do after an intense bout of exercise is crucial to how you’ll feel hours after you’re done. Make sure you take the time to cool down.

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"Static stretching is best done during this time," explains Pagarigan. Doing so stretches out muscle tightness and brings blood flow back to it to facilitate recovery. Do some light cardio by walking around as your heart rate goes down. Do these, and you’ll reduce feeling like a statue hours after you’re done.


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