3 common mistakes at the gym
Whether a newcomer to the workout world, fitness freak, or someone in-between, taking proper precautions while in the gym should be a top priority.
Ed Bendoraitis, an exercise physiologist at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., says that the most common injuries he sees are from overuse, poor flexibility, equipment misuse or improper form leading to muscle strains and pulls, lower back issues and knee discomfort.
Bendoraitis points out the three most common mistakes he sees:
- Poor range of motion when lifting weights
- Not enough intensity during cardiovascular exercises
- Too much momentum when using weight machines
To combat these issues, he suggests the following tips:
- While lifting weights, ensure you are using a full range of motion. A full range of motion means extending the joint to its flexion and extension capacity.
- On weight machines, slow down and isolate only one muscle group. By focusing on just one, you do not allow your body to rely on other muscles to help complete the full repetition.
- While engaging in cardiovascular exercises, stay within 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is called your target heart rate. According to the American Heart Association, your target heart rate will depend mostly on age. To find your target heart rate, you must first be able to measure heart rate. To do this, take your pulse on the inside of your wrist on the thumb side. Use the tips of your first two fingers to press lightly over the blood vessel on your wrist. Count how many beats occur in a 10 second time frame, then multiply that number by six. This is your current heart rate. To find your target heart rate, take your pulse during intense physical activity. This will be your maximum heart. Your target heart rate will be 60 to 85 percent of this number.
For example, the AHA says a 20-year-old’s target heart rate zone should be 100 to 170 beats per minute, which is 60 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate, 200 beats per minute. It’s important to keep in mind that these are only estimates, and results will alter based on each individual.
Bendoraitis says that if you are new to exercise, use a personal trainer to learn proper form. Many gyms also offer an orientation on equipment safety.
If you are not able to do this, he suggests working on mobility and flexibility first, progressing to body-weight only exercises (push-ups, pull ups, squats, lunges) before moving on to strength machines and free weights.
“Be mentally focused, patient and don’t do too much, too soon before your body is ready,” he says.
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