Be a Pro! Avoid these rookie mistakes.

By Dave DiFabio

5 Common Mistakes Made in the Gym

This time of year brings ugly weather (anyone else tired of it?) and newbies into the gym (I never get tired of them). Avoid these rookie mistakes and look more like a Pro. Instantly!

Not taking the time to warm-up: As a professor of mine used to say, if you don't have time to warm-up then you dont have time to train. Your warm up should consist of 5 minutes of general, light instensity cardio followed by 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic mobility exercises specific to the workout youre about to do. This will help increase blood flow and help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles involved in the workout. It will increase body temperature thus improving the pliability of the soft tissue (ligaments, tendons, fascia, cartilage) surrounding your joints. Research has shown that a dynamic warm-up can also potentiate muscle contractions thus improving power output during resistance training and explosive exercise such as plyometrics. On the flip side, research has also shown that traditional static stretching can reduce power output. So if you're about to do routine that requires a tremendous amount of strength and power, save the stretching for the end of your workout.

Hanging on to the rails of a stepper or treadmill for dear life: If you turn the speed up on a stepper beyond a pace that you can keep up with, you will have to hold yourself up by leaning on your wrists and locking out your elbows. The stepper basically becomes a walker. Similarly, if you speed up a treadmill or raise the incline beyond a level you can handle, you'll have to literally hang on to prevent getting launched off. Why do people do this? I suppose they like to see 1000 calories on the console at the end of their 1-hour workout. Studies have suggested that if you hang on to the equipment, this readout can be inflated by 70%. So 1000 calories/hour is more like 300 calories/hour. So instead, lower the incline/speed, use the equipment correctly and burn the 300 calories in 2/3 to 1/2 the time.

Using the same weight for every exercise: When you do a multijoint exercise such as a shoulder press you will engage much more muscle mass to move the weight compared to a single joint exercise like a tricep kickback. So if youre using 10 lbs on the kickbacks you should use significantly more weight for the shoulder press; otherwise you're just spinning your wheels. Torturing yourself with exercises you hate: There are so many ways to improve all aspects of fitness so there is no need to beat yourself up with exercises that are boring or that cause joint pain. Mix things up. Cross-fit, Zumba, Olympic Weightlifting, Pilates, Basketball, Interval & Plyometric Training, Spinning, Soccer, Swimming, etc. You're bound to find stuff you like and can stick with. Doing Behind-the-Neck Lat-Pulldowns and B-t-N Shoulder Presses: Some athletes may benefit from improving their ability to execute overhead, behind-the-neck movements. However these two particular exercises can overload the shoulders in a vulnerable position putting them at risk for impingement and subluxation. These exercises are not worth the risk when alternative exercises can produce equal results.

Till next time... Train Like You Play, Play Like You Train

Dave DiFabio MA, CSCS, USAW

Owner/Strength & Conditioning Coach - Team Speed Fitness LLC