5 Common Gym Mistakes That Sabotage Your Workout

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m the father of three. Two girls ages 2 and 3 and we just had a our little boy not long ago. I have a very busy career, busy family life, just busy busy busy. For that reason, I just prefer to workout at home. Being able to just knock out my workouts in half an hour in the comfort of my basement and move on with my day is extremely valuable. However, we recently broke down and joined Lifetime Fitness. Part of the reason we did that was because of the two hours of daily childcare that comes with the membership. If my wife is at work and I don’t have anywhere to put the kids, I can’t work or workout at all so this was a great solution for everyone.

Well, now that I’ve been back in a gym for a couple of months, I’m starting to notice a few things that are very common mistakes that people make constantly in the gym. Did you know that there are 5 common things that people do every day in the gym that could inhibit their progress, keep them from losing weight and stifle or sabotage their workouts? Let me share with you.

Stuck in a Rut

People tend to be creatures of habit, doing the same things over and over and over and over again. They get stuck in a rut of doing the same things all the time. These things might work when you are just beginning the workout routine, but your body gets used to it or comfortable with it so you should constantly switch it up. You should be changing your routine every 3-4 weeks. For example, if you go in there and you’re just running on the treadmill, that’s going to work initially for you, but eventually it’s going to lose its effectiveness. You are not going to burn as many calories, your body will get used to it and it’s going to stop working. You have to switch it up. If you’re into cardio, maybe you want to use different machines. Maybe instead of just hopping on the treadmill, you head over to the stair climber and instead of the stair climber, use the elliptical, instead of the elliptical, something else. You’ve got to get creative and do different workouts. Same thing if you are into weight training. If you get into the same routine and do it all the time, it will lose its effectiveness. Again, change the routine every 3-4 weeks. It’s called muscle confusion to keep your body guessing, to keep challenging yourself and to keep making progress. That is the key.

It’s a Gym not Starbucks

People go into the gym and treat it like a social club these days. There are TV’s everywhere and free WIFI, people have their phones, their iPad or television to distract them. If you can watch TV, text message, check your Facebook account while you are working out, then you aren’t working out. You’re at the gym to get it done. Get in and get out. It should be an intense workout instead of just plodding along on the treadmill at the same old speed where you can read a book. You should warm up, get to a reasonable speed for 5 minutes, then crank the intensity up for a minute or two. Really challenge yourself, get the blood flowing then dial it back for a minute or two and then crank it back up again. Do that for four, five, six intervals and you’ve knocked it out. In 30 minutes, you are completely drained, you’ve annihilated some fat, and you’ve really ramped up your metabolism. That will last for hours! You shouldn’t be able to text, read, check your Facebook or watch TV during a workout, you should be working out!


Are you constantly comparing yourself or competing with others? You may want to check out my article, The Comparison Trap. I get it, we’re all competitive and nobody likes to see someone else lifting more weight, running on the treadmill faster or climbing the stair climber faster than you are, but here’s what I want you to understand: you are not them, you are YOU and your focus shouldn’t be on competing with all of them. Your focus should be competing with yourself and making consistent progress so that you are better today than you were yesterday and you are better tomorrow than you were today. Don’t compromise your form when you’re lifting weights or try to do things you are not supposed to be doing just so you can add a couple of extra pounds, that’s how you get hurt. Don’t run or climb so fast that you have to hold on to the sides. If you have to hold on while you are running or climbing, you are not getting the same workout or the same benefits while you are holding on. You are taking weight off your feet, off your body and it’s not as challenging therefore you are not burning as many calories. Besides, you look ridiculous so, don’t hold on when you are doing a workout like that. Slow down, use less weight and do it correctly, make it work, make it effective.

Ready Set Go

For all of you treadmill warriors. I like a good interval workout on a treadmill as much as anyone, but you should be using the incline feature. I don’t mean a huge incline like ten or fifteen percent like you are climbing a hill. Sure, it’s better if you just run naturally outside on the street or in your neighborhood, but with smog, pollen, and traffic. I mean not all of us can have a nice park with clean air and no traffic to run in, so you go to the gym. If you are indoors, on a treadmill pounding out these runs, do yourself a favor and try to mimic the outdoors. Ratchet it up just one or two percent to make it a more realistic run like in the outdoors, in your neighborhood or like you would be running a 5K or 10K. One or two percent more accurately reflects your pace, your time and how it would feel out there. When you run outside the road below you doesn’t move, so adding a little resistance to the treadmill, you make it more realistic.

Counter Productive

Last but not least, is over fueling or over eating. I see people who literally drink sports drinks before, all through their workout, eat energy bars before their workout and then stuff their face afterwards like you have to continually fuels your body. What you have to understand is a really high intensity workout, a good workout in 30 minutes to an hour is going to burn between 300 and 800 calories. Those energy bars are just a bunch of carbs and calories and those sports drinks are a bunch of sugar. If you are doing all that drinking and eating before, during and after your workout, you are basically ruining all the progress you are there to make. You are not going to lose weight and you are not going to get fit. Unless you a really high level, elite kind of athlete or you are doing a lot of working out, a lot of exercise or a lot of running, you just don’t need all that stuff. Yes, make sure you have at least a couple of hundred calories a few hours before you work out, but NOT right before you work out. Then just drink water with maybe a pre-workout drink OR a recovery drink afterwards, but you can’t consume 1,000 calories in preparation for a 400-calorie workout. That just doesn’t work.

As a busy parent, it’s important to stay fit and healthy but time is I’ve got no time to waste. I’ve got to make every minute count. These tips will help you do exactly that. Have you ever heard the saying, “there’s an app for that”. This is no exception. One of the best health and fitness apps I’ve found in terms accuracy, efficiency and function when it comes to helping me get on and stay on track is MyFitnessPal. It makes tracking all of the food and calories you consume along with all of the activity, exercise and calories you burn, simple and easy. If you haven’t already, go ahead and download my FREE guide to “12 Smart Apps That Help Busy Parents Get Their $h*t Together”

Well, those are my tips for the day, I hope they were helpful and your workouts can become more effective, efficient and rewarding.

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