10 Things You Must Avoid Doing At The Gym (And What To Do Instead!)

Does your typical workout include doing hours and hours or cardio on the treadmill? Do you spend more than an hour on the stair stepper? Well, if you’re in the mindset of “the more you sweat, the more you’ll burn,” then we’ve got news for you! Not only will doing so much cardio may not help you burn as many calories as you think, but you might also not be pushing yourself hard enough. We get it! Going to the gym can be pretty intimidating, especially when you don’t have a gym buddy or a trainer. But there are a number of things you should be doing to get the most out of your gym membership!

Never Be Clueless About Your Workout For The Day


Always, always, always have a plan. If you don’t know why you’re there or what area of the body you need to be working out, then you’ll be wasting your time. Michele Olson, the creator of the Perfect Legs, Glutes & Abs DVD, explains why having a plan is key. “If you do not have a plan to address your greatest fitness needs and desires, you can stall results and actually create changes you do not need or that might not even be appropriate for you.” The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen? Hire a personal trainer who’ll help you write out a long term plan.

Never Work Out With On a Full Stomach


Sure, you need the extra energy to burn some major calories while you’re at the gym, but too much food in your stomach can lead to indigestion, bloating and nausea. Make sure to drink coffee an hour before hitting the gym, or do your workout sessions on an empty stomach. This will this help you burn more fat, as it forces your body to use protein as fuel.

Never Leave Cardio Equipment Sweaty and Gross


This is just common courtesy and gym etiquette 101, but some people truly need to get it through their heads. No one likes to sit on a spin bike that’s drenched in someone else’s sweat. That’s just plain gross. And if you balk at the idea of grabbing a set of weights that are covered in sweat, then you should start leading by example. Either bring a towel or use the paper towels supplied and if fellow gym-goers aren’t cleaning after themselves, then you should consider having a talk with management.

Ask For Help When Needed


Most people in the gym are more than willing to help out if you need to learn how to use a machine, adjust it or just need a spot. Don’t be afraid to interact with your fellow gym goers either! Some of them might’ve been training for a while and they could offer some valuable advice. “If your club has trainers, movement specialists, physical therapists, nutritionists, or registered dietitians, use them!” said Olsen.

Always Wear The Right Shoes


Obviously, if you’re going running you need running shoes. If you’re going hiking, you need hiking shoes. It’s pretty hard to work out without the right shoes. But not doing so can also affect your safety. You might stub your toe or drop a weight right on your tootsies. To make sure you always got the right gear with you, make sure to keep a packed bag in the car, or leave one at the office.

Don’t Do Cardio Only


This is especially important for women. Everyone should mix up their routines to get the most out of the workouts, avoid plateauing and help their body build strength across time. Women often skip weight training for fear of bulking up, but muscle toning will give you great results. And if you’re doing stationary cardio that only works your lower limbs, then Olsen suggests you should start using your upper body muscles more. Doing so, “can up your total calorie count and will help you develop better endurance. Athletes with the fittest cardiovascular systems are total-body, aerobic athletes such as cross country skiers and swimmers (movements which use both the arms and the legs).”

You Use Incorrect Form


Making sure that you’re performing any exercise safely and correctly will not only prevent injury, but you’ll also maximize the effectiveness of your workouts. Maybe you’re not squatting low enough, or you have improper posture on the treadmill. Talk to a trainer to make sure your form is correct. Not doing so can lead to injury really fast!

Don’t Just Focus on the Muscles You Can See


This can be tempting. You want to see results, and you want to see them fast. But making sure that you build strength in your stabilising muscles will help you burn more calories and maintain overall toning.

Don’t Oversocialize


Well, most of us are guilty of doing this one! But don’t fret just yet. You can still talk to your gym buddies, but you need to make sure to do it at the end of your sessions, or solely at the beginning. If someone is “in the zone” of their workout, respect their space and talk to them afterwards. You might see the gym as the perfect place to meet new people or catch up with friends, but don’t expect that to be how everyone interacts.

Stretch, Stretch, And Stretch Some More!


Static stretches are the final thing that you should be doing at the gym. As a matter of fact, Olsen believes all adults should be stretching their muscles at least three times per week. Muscles need to be warm for these to be effective. Static stretching increases your range of motion, mobility and helps with recovery.