by Anna Dickens
You’re huffing and puffing at the gym, but still not seeing the results you want. Or maybe you’re constantly getting sidelined with pesky injuries — first you tweaked your knee, now your shoulder is acting up. WTF??? If your progress has hit a plateau, you might be guilty of making one of these common workout slip-ups. Read on for 12 gym mistakes that could be derailing your workout and tips for how to fix them.
1. Not switching up running shoes
If you’re still rocking a 2011 pair of Nikes with a massive hole on the bottom, it’s time to head to the nearest shoe store, stat. Technically speaking, you’re supposed to replace running shoes every 400 to 500 miles — which, if you log a lot of miles, could equate to every three months or so. Because shoes lose shock absorption as they age, running in worn-out sneakers increases your odds of winding up with injuries like shin splints or knee tendonitis.
2. Doing too much of the same thing
Do you immediately go into autopilot when you enter the gym and crank out the same old circuit routine you’ve been doing since the 90s? If you find yourself in a workout rut, it’s time to switch things up, pronto. Why? Your body is smart. It quickly adapts to a monotonous routine and begins to utilize less energy to perform the same movement, which means you burn fewer calories overall. Bottom line, too much repetition causes progress to stall out. Luckily, that’s where Barry’s comes in — in a typical class, you never know what your instructor is going to throw at you next. Dynamic mode? Hills? Plank holds? The classes are always different, which keeps your body guessing.
3. Not lifting heavier weights
Are you still doing bicep curls with 10 pound weights? C’mon now, slacker! Especially if you’ve been going to Barry’s regularly for a few months, it’s time to trade in those 10 pounders for a heavier set of dumbbells—muscles adapt, so you need to upgrade weights every so often in order to keep challenging yourself and growing stronger.
4. Not getting enough sleep
If you stayed up too late last night watching TV, your workout will likely suffer. Not only will you have less energy to perform, you’ll probably end up blowing your diet, too. Sleep deprivation can interfere with several important hormones, including leptin, a hormone that suppresses your appetite and regulates your metabolism. In fact, a 2011 study out of Columbia University found that sleep-deprived individuals tend to eat, on average, 300 extra calories than when they were well-rested. So seriously—turn off the lights and get to bed, already!
5. Not warming up
The old-school thinking was that you should stretch before a workout to prevent injury and warm up the muscles. Now, experts are saying you should skip the pre-workout stretch in favor of a warm-up including plenty of dynamic movements—think lunges, jumping jacks, high knees, or just plain ol’ walking. Consider that another reason to stop being late for class!
6. Not stretching after your workout
Immediately ducking into the locker room following your workout is a huge no-no. If you fail to stretch post-workout, you’ll pay the price later in stiff, sore muscles. End your workout with a few static stretches (quad stretches, hip stretches, etc), and maybe even some foam rolling if you have time.
7. Using poor form
Does your back collapse when you’re doing push-ups? Do your knees cave inward while you do squats? Sloppy form can compromise your workouts — and put you at greater risk of injury. Listen carefully to your instructor’s cues, observe yourself in the mirror to make sure your form is on point, and use modifications (i.e., push-ups on knees) whenever necessary. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions if a certain movement doesn’t make sense. Better safe than sorry! Read this article to learn the three most common exercises you’re probably doing wrong.
8. Poor nutrition
You are what you eat, the old saying goes — and it’s true! If you’re constantly gorging on junk, you won’t see that sexy Barry’s bod because it’ll be buried beneath a layer of fat. Remember, results are 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent fitness, so choose your food wisely. And always aim for enough muscle-building protein to feed those muscles. Want to know what foods are best to show off that lurking six-pack? We’ve got that for you, too.
9. Not taking a rest day
Working out is a good thing, but the body needs a day of rest for muscle repair and re-growth. By not allowing yourself a day off, you risk overtraining, fatigue and burnout. Always pencil in a day (or two!) for playing hooky from the gym.
10. Doing strictly cardio
In moderation, cardio is a great tool for shedding fat, upping endurance, and improving heart health, but too much cardio can do more harm than good. Long, drawn-out cardio sessions are monotonous, not to mention counterproductive—in some cases, cardio overload can result in muscle wasting (atrophy). Cardio bunnies need to balance out their regimens with a weight lifting routine. Strength training does a body good in many ways—the more muscle mass you have, your metabolism will soar, your body will get tighter and you’ll stave off injuries.
11. Not being consistent
Sorry, weekend warriors. To truly see progress, you need to commit to going to the gym four to five or more days a week — two times a week just won’t cut it. Of course, some exercise is better than no exercise, but don’t expect to see massive gains in strength or endurance if you’re crashing on the couch most days of the week. As with most things in life, consistency is key! Keep yourself accountable by signing up for a Barry’s Flex Academy, in which you commit to doing three, four, or five classes per week for a month at a reduced rate.
12. Skimping on water
Proper hydration both before and after your workout is crucial to optimal performance. Muscles need fluid to contract properly, so if you are even the slightest bit dehydrated, it could lead to muscle aches or spasms. What’s more, not sipping enough H20 can diminish your athletic performance — experts say that just losing two percent of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by up to 25 percent.