Personal trainer and triathlete Jennifer Schmitt wants you to know that you’re working out all wrong. But it’s not your fault. If you go to a gym, you’re completely surrounded by people who are breaking every rule of fitness.
Thankfully, Schmitt has a few suggestions to right your path if you’ve gone off course.
Mistake #1: Too much commitment
Here’s a shocking truth: All those hours at the gym may not pay off the way you’d like. “If you’re doing an effective workout, there’s no reason to spend three hours in the gym.” Gym-goers, however, often choose quantity over quality, but Schmitt says you can obtain an effective workout in just a fraction of the time by choosing a 30-minute tabata of high-intensity interval training rather than hours on the treadmill.
Mistake #2: Death by cardio
We all know that a cardio workout is great for your heart, but it’s possible to overdo it. “I see men and women spending over an hour on an elliptical or stationary bike, surrounded by a pool of sweat,” Schmitt says. If you’re getting burned out on cardio, know that you can achieve even better results by doing a quick interval routine instead.
Mistake #3: Sticking to a routine
A workout habit is great, but a workout routine may not be the best. “People will often do the same workout every time they are in the gym, without mixing it up,” she explains. “If you do the same workout over and over, though, you’ll stop seeing results.” Instead of the same routine, mix it up by doing a leg day, an arm day and using a variety of cardio equipment.
Mistake #4: Too much screen time
All those selfies, texts and phone calls at the gym are only a distraction. “I have actually seen a lady in the gym that was there for over two hours, but she only worked out for 20 minutes,” she says. “She took some pictures, answered texts, held a 20-second plank and then moved on to the next exercise.” Put down the phone for a distraction-free, effective workout in less than 30 minutes.
Mistake #5: Not asking questions
If you’ve ever felt like a deer in the headlights at a gym, Schmitt says you’re not fooling anyone. “People wander around a lot, not knowing what to do and not asking questions.” It doesn’t have to be this way — many fellow athletes and trainers want to help, but you just have to open your mouth to ask the questions about how to properly use equipment or reach your fitness goals.
Mistake #6: Eating a mammoth snack
“A post-workout snack is great, but eating a mammoth muffin on your way out the gym door can negate everything you just worked hard for,” Schmitt says. Unfortunately, gym-goers often view tasty treats as a reward for a job well done, but it’s simply not worth it. Instead, refuel your body with lean proteins and complex carbs so you can see the results you want.
Mistake #7: Improper form
“The biggest mistake I see people make is improper form when exercising — on both cardio machines and free weights,” Schmitt says. Troubleshoot this mistake by asking questions to the trainers and paying attention to what your body is telling you.
Mistake #8: Loud music
We know you have a rad workout playlist, but Schmitt cautions that you should avoid loud music so you can be courteous to others and not damage your hearing. “You cannot hear if someone is asking you something or if they need help,” she says. Turn down the volume for a safer workout for everyone.