The Gym Goers Guide to Effective and Safe Workouts

weights.jpeg

LIFESTYLE

by Hailey Brady, BS, ACSM-CPT

DON’T

Do the exact same workout every time for several weeks. Not only will you be bored, but you’re likely to see progress plateau. If you don’t feel comfortable trying something new, consider working with a personal trainer or trying a group exercise class. You don’t have to do an entirely different workout every time, just try adding a new exercise to your routine every now and again.

DO

Have a go-to workout that you can do at home, or with minimal equipment. We all get busy and it’s easy to let a week go by without making it to the gym. Find a workout you can do at home that gets your heart rate up. Set aside 20-30 minutes and give the workout your full attention. No phone, no TV, no distractions. Many people underestimate the value of getting 20-30 minutes of activity in here and there. 20 minutes might seem like nothing, but if you can squeeze in 20 minutes each day of the week that adds up to over 2 hours of activity! No matter how busy you are, try to prioritize 20 minutes minimum.

DON’T

Choose the same cardio machine every time you workout. Of course it’s fine to have your go-to cardio workout, but make sure you change it up from time to time. Try a cardio based class like cycle, HIIT, tabata, etc. If there’s a machine that you’re not sure how to use, ask fitness staff or a personal trainer- they’ll be happy to help.

DO

Mix it up on the cardio equipment. It’s easy to hop on, set the speed to a comfortable pace and crank out 20-30 minutes of steady state cardio. If you prefer the treadmill over the stationary bike, or the elliptical over the stair master, that’s fine! Add some variety by increasing incline or resistance, changing your pace, or adding interval training into your routine.

DON’T

Use the handrails to hang on or support body weight on cardio equipment. Unless you have balance issues or you are just using them quickly to hop on/off the machine, you should avoid supporting yourself on the handrails. I often see people crank the incline up on the treadmill so much that they have to hold on for dear life. Think of it this way, when you’re walking outside you don’t have the option of handrails. If your speed or incline is so high that you have to support yourself… consider backing off a bit. Set the speed and incline at a level that you can maintain while walking/jogging normally. You should be able to swing or pump your arms and maintain balance. Same goes for the stairmaster, it’s fine to lightly rest your hands on the handles just to be sure you don’t fall.

DO

Be aware of your body and know your limits. When you exercise, it should never be painful! You may feel exhausted, fatigued, or a slight burning sensation if you’re doing resistance training, but it should feel very different from physical pain or injury. When you try new exercises, take it slow. Listen to your body, learn the difference between challenging yourself and injury.

DON’T

Compromise form in order to run faster, lift heavier, etc. I tell my clients and class participants ‘quality over quantity’. I’d rather have you do 10 body weight squats with perfect form than 20 squats with poor form. Be honest with yourself. If you can’t maintain good form with the weight you are using, try using lighter weight. If you still can’t maintain good form- just use body weight! No workout is worth an injury. If you’re not sure if you’re doing an exercise with correct form, talk to a personal trainer or group exercise instructor.

DO

Try to challenge yourself based on your previous workouts and your current fitness level. With anything in life, practice makes perfect. If you’ve mastered running a 5k at a certain pace try to incorporate speed work to continue improving that pace. The same goes with strength training, you won’t get stronger by lifting the same weight for months on end. If you can curl 10lb dumb bells easily with perfect form, try incorporating 12.5 lb, and eventually 15lb dumbbells here and there. You might only be able to do a few repetitions with the heavier weight at first, but you’ll improve over time.


Follow Us