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Minimize Mistakes and Maximize Your Gains

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Hitting the gym is a necessary part of staying fit and healthy both physically as well as mentally. That’s why it is important not to waste time or spin your wheels when you are working out. Certain commonly used exercises and practices are ineffective and just plain unsafe. Here is my list of some time- consuming mistakes and useless exercises to avoid in the gym.

Jerking heavy weights on the leg extension machine with the intention of blasting your quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your thighs) is a recipe for serious knee injuries. Besides straining the cruciate knee ligaments and causing damage to the meniscus, this exercise can over -develop your quads causing your hamstrings (the muscles on the backs of your thighs) to become excessively tight and inflexible. Tight hams in turn can cause low back pain and contribute to injuries. Avoid all this lower body “drama” by sticking with squats, presses, and lunges. If you insist on doing leg extensions, then keep the weight light to manageable and perform them every other leg day.

Any exercise that involves pushing or pulling a bar that’s positioned behind the neck can damage the rotator cuff muscles that attach your humerus (arm) to your scapula (shoulder). Once you strain or sprain these muscles you are in for a serious shoulder pain and maybe even shoulder surgery. When you do wide grip lat pull downs or barbell or dumbbell shoulder military presses, sit up straight, point your chest outward and pull or press the weight in front of you.

Doing cardio can be a boring waste of time especially if you set your cardio machine too slow every workout. Varying your pace and intensity during your hour or so of cardio is a more successful fat loss strategy. The best way to burn calories is by mixing fast and slow speeds. This is also the best way to address the body’s different energy systems and muscle groups.

Sit-ups are useless and ineffective. Locking your feet under a rack or bench and rolling up on your lower back as you pull on your 7 cervical vertebrae will only give you a sore back and stiff neck.  Instead, do crunches. Keep your feet flat on the floor or slightly elevate your legs over an exercise ball to stabilize your hips. Extend your arms and crunch your torso bringing your elbows to your knees. You can feel the burning in your abs already!

When you go to the gym, your main goal is to lift weights, so use weights that are heavy enough so that your muscles feel worked by the end of a set of 8-12 reps. Pyramid your weights up with each set but be careful to maintain good form with each rep. Leave your phone in the car unless you keep your workout program on it. Visualize the muscle group you are working and shut out the distractions. This is your time, your body, your most serious project of the day!

(Photo by Pikx By Panther from Pexels)

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