The rewards of liftings weights are without question – but your workouts are not risk-free
Around 13% of people have suffered a training-related injury in the past year. That shouldn’t put you off pushing past your best at the gym, though. To avoid a spell on the sidelines, take heed from physiotherapist Alex Clark’s advice.
Here are five of the most common mistakes people make at the gym – and how you can fix them:
Mistake 1: Overly repetitive routines
“When you find a type of exercise you enjoy, it can be all too tempting to focus solely on this and neglect other ways of working out.
“However, by doing the same activities each time you exercise you’ll always engage the same muscles and joints, which can lead to repetitive strain injury over time and also make your workouts less effective.
“Switching up your workouts will give your overworked muscles and joints time to rest and recover, which can prevent overuse injuries from developing.”
JOE: No matter how effective your initial training program is, you need to keep challenging your body. Manipulating reps, sets, rest periods and working your muscle groups through different angles can all add the impetus for growth.
Mistake 2: Failing to perfect your form
“Performing exercises with poor form or incorrect technique is a potential recipe for injury.
“You should always ensure your form is on-point before attempting to add more weight or progressing to the next stage of an exercise. If you’re struggling to do an exercise using the correct form, it’s a sign you should be lifting lighter weights.
“It can be difficult to get your form right when you’re in a large class at the gym, or copying what you see on Instagram.
“It may be worth checking in with a personal trainer to help perfect the correct form.”
Mistake 3: Warming up the wrong way
“Warming up is vital in getting the most out of your workouts, but many people just aren’t doing it correctly.
“When they are stretching, many are focusing on static stretches. These sorts of stretches, where you extend a limb and hold it in a certain position, have been shown to potentially inhibit performance and increase chances of injury.
“Instead opt for dynamic stretching pre-workout, where you move as you stretch, tailored around the specific activity you are going to be performing. This helps correctly prepare the muscle correctly for activity. For example, this could be lunges if you’re going for run or arm circles if you’re hitting the weights.
“Static stretches are preferable after you exercise, instead.”
Mistake 4: Going all-out all the time
“The rise in popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and a macho ‘go hard or go home’ gym culture has led many to believe we have to be exercising hard all the time to see the benefits.
“HIIT can be great, but too many back-to-back high intensity workouts without rest can be a recipe for injury and really take a toll on your joints.
“Alternate intense sessions with lower intensity activities such as a steady jog, swimming, cycling or yoga to minimise your risk of injury, while still reaping the benefits of regular workouts.”
Mistake 5: Failing to rest and recover
“After an hour at the gym or a 5km run, you may get home and think the job is done. However, it’s vital to consider proper recovery when the workout is over.
“Make sure not to skip your stretches after a workout, and consider foam rolling or hot and cold therapy to aid in your recovery and keep joints and muscles supple.
“Alongside stretching, you may wish to supplement with a product containing ingredients such as Copper, Calcium and Vitamin D. If you regularly suffer from injuries, a medical grade support could also help you get the support you need to keep working out pain and injury-free.”
Alex Clark is in-house physiotherapist at Neo G.