Whether you’re brand new to lifting weights or someone who’s had years of experience, there’s always something to be improved upon. One of the most common incidents at the gym is people making mistakes while lifting weights.
We’re here to help correct some you may be making or aren’t sure about, to ensure you make the most of your workout and also stay safe. No matter how in shape you are, there’s always some risk that comes with the sport, so let’s take a look to try and fix these mistakes before they start.
1. Not Warming Up
Warming up is undoubtedly the most important part of any workout but is of particular importance while lifting weights. Warming up is exactly that – warming up the mind and muscles to prepare it for the exercise it’s about to perform.
There’s not any “one” way to warm up, but it should involve some stretching for at least 5 to 10 minutes. You don’t want to rush into or force a stretch as this can strain a muscle or tendon. Grab a folding gymnastics mat or an exercise mat with sufficient cushion.
Try performing stretches addressing your legs, back, core, chest, back, etc. and hold each one for 30 to 45 seconds and remember not to “bounce”. Start out slow and work your way into a deeper stretch only when your body allows for it.
2. Always Working Out the Same Body Parts
If you want to seriously get in shape, then you need to keep both symmetry and functionality in mind. We’ve all seen the guys who “skip leg day”, right? They have the huge, bulging arms and the significantly skinnier legs. Many people claim that this is just “genetics” but most times this is actually due to the fact that the person simply didn’t work out their lower body to the same extent or frequency as the upper.
A classic bodybuilding split is always a good way to go, even if you aren’t nor never want to be a bodybuilder. The split will look something like this (though you can change it around a bit to your liking):
Day 1: Back and Biceps
Day 2: Chest and Triceps
Day 3: Legs/Lower Body
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Whole Body Routine
The way this split is set up is to ensure you get the most out of each workout by ensuring you aren’t working out muscles that are sore or feel weaker due to the previous days’ workouts. For example, the back and biceps are complementary muscles to the chest and triceps, or push/pull.
On back and biceps day you’ll focus on “pull” exercises like pullups, rows, curls, and so on. On chest and triceps day, you’ll focus on “push” exercises like chest presses, dips, tricep extensions, etc. On the legs/lower body day you’ll not focus on any of the other muscles so you can place attention on squats, lunges, leg presses, calf raises, etc.
3. Forgetting Cardio
You don’t only want to lift weights – your body will benefit greatly from aerobic exercise as well! Cardio improves stamina, burns body fat, increases mobility, and so much more. There are some excellent cardio options today that were much more difficult to perform even 10 years ago, such as vertical climbing and mini steppers which don’t take up much room at all and can even be done in your living room.
Aside from vertical climbers, there are other cardio machines that work the upper body, such as rowing machines and even the classic punching bag (which isn’t a machine but you get the idea). However, if your legs aren’t already sore like they will be on leg day, then you can try out treadmills or spinning, which are wonderful forms of cardio exercise and fat-burning if that’s also one of your goals.
4. Forgetting the Core
The core isn’t just about getting a 6-pack; it’s also about developing strength and balance which are both crucial to minimizing the risk of injury and increasing mobility. Most gyms have an exercise ball or a yoga ball which are great for laying down on and doing crunches, overhead lifts, or twists. If not, you can also substitute the ball with a medicine ball which we love using for Russian Twists, which are great for strengthening the obliques.
We love using a balance board while we’re at home watching TV or just hanging out, as they’re perfect for increasing balance but don’t take up much room.
5. Not Coming Prepared
You’ve heard the saying, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, right? Well, it’s kind of true in this case. You need to know what you’re going to be doing before you get to the gym, so plan out a routine either in your notebook or in a workout app so you aren’t wasting time wandering around the gym. You need to create a routine which addresses each muscle you want to focus on that day and ensure you aren’t neglecting anything.
Now that you’ve had the chance to read through the top 5 mistakes to avoid when lifting weights, do you feel a bit more comfortable and prepared? They’re all pretty easy to follow if you come prepared. Number 5 is particularly crucial as lifting weights isn’t just about winging it or seeing how many squats you can do until you can no longer walk.
It’s about lifting smarter, not harder. We hope our guide has helped you get a bit more familiar with what this requires. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again shortly! Remember to have fun but take your health seriously!