You work out religiously at the gym every day.
But, in your determination to meet your fitness goals, you may be making common mistakes that could put your health in jeopardy.
Follow our guide to make sure you stay fit as you work off that extra flab.
Many people feel they 'should' join a gym, but they are not really clear what they want out of it.
If you are joining a weight loss programme but do not intend to alter your eating pattern, you will find that, while you are losing inches, your weight loss will be slow.
Similarly, if you have always been obese and the only activity you ever get is in the gym, don't expect a miracle. Be practical.
Forget to warm up and cool down?
Once you have fixed your goals and signed up, make sure you always do a good warm-up before your workout. The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare your muscles for a workout by raising your body temperature slightly and making your muscles more pliable.
Simply walking on the treadmill or doing the cycle at a low to moderate speed for 5-10 minutes ensures a good warm up. Similarly, never forget to cool down after a workout by stretching the various muscles of your body. This will help bring your heart rate and body temperature back to normal.
Wrong postures/ techniques?
If you are doing an exercise standing up -- like a bicep curl, for instance -- make sure you stand with your feet apart for better balance. Never lock your joints while performing an exercise.
Learning the correct technique from the trainer and perfecting it is another way of preventing injury and getting the most out of each workout.
Too fast or too slow?
Just like dance, exercise too has a rhythm and should be done at a particular pace. If you are a beginner, whether you are doing a squat or a bench press, make sure you do your exercise at an even pace.
You should be lifting and lowering the weight at approximately the same speed throughout the workout. This will ensure you do not get injured and, at the same time, see to it that the tension on the muscle stays constant.
Try to mentally rate your exercise on a scale of 0-10 by the end of each set, with 10 being the toughest. If you find that you are rating the intensity at five or six even in the last set for each muscle, you need to up the intensity.
You can increase the intensity of an exercise by increasing the poundage by ½ to 1 pound at a time, or by increasing upto 5 repetitions in any exercise. If you can do up to 25 repetitions comfortably for any exercise in the last set, it is time to change that exercise.
An ideal workout should last you about 45-50 minutes. If you train beyond this time span, you are either doing more than required or you are wasting too much time in between the workout, which menas you won't get the results you want.
The same old routine?
It's a good idea to change your workout routine every six weeks to prevent your muscles from getting used to the exercises.
Change the repetitions or weights you lift, do a different set of exercise for each muscle or switch to a different activity -- instead of walking on the treadmill, switch to swimming. You will be surprised at the change in stamina.
When is it time to change your gym?
~ It is very unhygienic and the management does nothing about it.
~ The instructors are underqualified and cannot explain why you are doing the exercises prescribed to you.
~ The instructors have lost interest in you after a few sessions.
~ You are doing the same workout since you started months ago.
~ Instructors do not take into account any health problems or aches and pains you have before planning your workout. The same goes for the dietician or nutritionist's diet plan.
~ You are in severe pain after a particular workout and no one really cares.
Samreedhi is a nutritionist and personal trainer. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Don't forget to log in to Samreedhi's chat at Friday, 4 pm. She will answer questions on how you can ensure you are doing your workout correctly.
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