You realized that fitness is key to your tennis performance and so you finally joined the gym…good for you! With the hardest part over (getting started) the best is yet to come. But, for many first timers (and, well, everyone, really) at the gym, the busy scene can be quite intimidating.
Unsure of what to do, you may simply just walk on the treadmill, or maybe you’ll go big and attempt to pump some iron. You’re likely to spot someone who appears as if they know what they are doing, and your gut may tell you to do what they do. Copying your neighbor may seem like enough to learn the swing of the ropes, but unfortunately it isn’t. They could have learned what they know by watching someone else who didn’t know what they were doing.
A mentality like that can get you injured, and/or cause you to overwork certain parts of your body. You could even be doing everything wrong, even if it feels right! The first steps in remedying these bad habits (or hopefully not picking them up at all) is knowing what they are.
And as you read this list, don’t sweat it. You’re not alone. Banish these 10 common workout mistakes, and your journey to reach your fitness goal will be a whole lot easier.
Being Over Enthusiastic
The rookie mistake when you get your first paycheck? Spend it all. The same goes the first time you hit the gym, as well. You put all of your energy into one session and BAM! Here comes the soreness and exhaustion which then, may actually provide you with reasons to create to excuses the next time when you should be working out. It can also lead to injury.
Don’t be afraid to ease into your new activity. Most everyone in your gym started at the beginning too. Besides, there are plenty of simple (and RIGHT) ways to boost your fitness goals…and most of them don’t even involve the gym!
Competing Against the Wrong Person
The gym can quickly become a self-confidence killer. Becoming your fittest self takes time and everyone has their own set of limits when it comes to the ways and speed at which their bodies can grow in strength and change in appearance. Instead of trying to match weights or pace with the person next to you, try to compete against yourself, and incrementally increase your personal best. You can be your biggest competition and your best supporter, too!
Trying To Cram In Your Workouts
We’re all busy, but don’t try to cram in extra weight or intensity to make up for a shorter workout time. People short on time will usually skip the warm-up and go right to the tough stuff, resulting in added soreness and an occasional injury. And sometimes, if people feel really pressed, they’ll give themselves a reason to not work out at all.
Instead, pencil in the right amount of time you’ll need each day to warm-up and workout, so you don’t feel rushed to get it all in. This way, you’ll be more likely to finish it completely, and ultimately more pleased with yourself because you did finish.
Not Drinking Enough Water
When it comes to getting fit, hydration is key. Not only does consuming the recommended water intake a day boost your chances of achieving your fitness goals, but it helps make your workouts a lot easier. Water helps to both boost your energy levels and “lubricate” your muscles and joints, preventing feelings of stiffness while increasing your body’s strength and flexibility.
Challenging Yourself Too Much
If you think you’ll be able to complete the same spin or barre workout as your friend who’s been going since 2012, think again. Your friend has spent years working up to where he/she is now, and if you push yourself too hard the first time, you’re setting yourself up to literally be incapacitated the next day, which is one of the main reasons why people quit exercising altogether.
Don’t fall into that trap. It’s okay to walk in the middle of your jog, and it’s okay to take a breather. In fact, it’s better for you, because you’ll be more likely to be happier if you chose to slow down and were able complete the workout rather than if you quit. And that positivity means that more than likely you’ll go back for more.
Forgetting To Stretch (Or Just Not Doing It)
It may seem slow and even “boring”, but stretching helps prepare your body for the physical activity it’s about to endure, as well as to cool down from the intensity it just performed. In fact, stretching leads to one of the most important aspects of exercise: flexibility. By increasing your body’s ability to “touch your toes,” for example, you will find it easier to do squats and lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups and a ton of different flexibility-related exercises, many of which probably seemed more difficult before.
Stretching is also protection against getting hurt. It’s so easy to get injured during a workout if you don’t stretch along with your warm-up. Take at least 10 minutes at the beginning of a workout to increase the blood flow to the muscles, preparing them for the sweat session ahead, and at the end of your workout, allowing your body to cool down and your heart rate to slow back to normal. Stretching also helps minimize any discomfort you already have, whether it be in your lower back, in your knees, or in your arms.
Not Noticing Improvement
People often get discouraged when starting an exercise routine, because they don’t notice an immediate physical improvement. The fact is, that change takes time. It In fact, it may take 3-4 weeks to see any visible changes in your body. But, there are other great benefits that happen faster, and you may not be giving yourself credit for those.
Soon after beginning an exercise regimen, you’re sleep and concentration should improve, and you’ll start to have an overall better feeling of well-being. These are all important, as they enable you to be mentally ready to tackle your workouts.
Not Fueling Up Properly
A race car won’t perform very well on regular gas, will it? The same goes for your body. If you’re asking it for a premium performance, you have to keep it fueled properly. Before the gym or match, it’s important to eat a meal that will provide you with the energy and support you need to fully push yourself. So, steer clear of sugary or fatty junk food. As for not eating at all? That’s a bad idea. When we don’t eat before physical activity, the chances of feeling weak mid-way through are pretty high, giving you even more excuses to slash your workout time.
Peeps who are new to exercise usually don’t take into consideration the importance of pre/post-workout meals. If they don’t eat the right combination of proteins and carbs before and after working out, they can have difficulty maintaining energy and recovering properly. For what to eat before and after you exercise, check out our growing index of healthy pre-match/workout recipes. We also have some great pre-match/workout recipes in posts, as well.
Not Consulting A Physician And/Or Expert
When starting something new, you’re always better off asking someone who knows best. To help you get on track, you should first consult your physician to make sure of the types of exercises you can perform safely…not everyone has the knees for burpees.
You should then consult a personal trainer who will assess your fitness level and start you out with a routine that you can build on over time. From then on out, just be eager to learn; there is always room for improvements and advancements at the gym.
Once you decide what type of training that is best for you and that you will enjoy, read up on it. Go to multiple sources for your information. Even YouTube can provide some useful videos on your choice.
Not Believing You Can Change
Say it with me: Progress takes patience.
It’s much easier for our bodies to fall out of shape than to morph into shape, so do your best not to get discouraged when you’re just getting into the swing of things. You can and you will reach your goal, but it will take some time to get there. Believe in yourself and allow yourself time to get to where you want to be…and you’ll get there!