Some things you’re not doing at the gym (and possibly should be)
You don’t use the ‘heavy’ weights. What does heavy even mean? What’s heavy to one person isn’t necessarily heavy to another. Also, you have 2 main different types of muscle fibers, slow and fast twitch. By not using the heavier weights you are neglecting your fast twitch fibers and these are used to move quickly, hip and spine stability and lifting weighty objects (heavy handbag anyone?!). Ladies, they won’t bulk you up, your concentration of male hormones are too low to make this an issue.
• Your cardio is mainly made up of lower bodywork and you ignore the upper body. Treadmill, stationary bike and stepper your thing? There is very little upper bodywork here and so lower calorie expenditure. The athletes with the fittest cardiovascular systems are skiers and swimmers, 2 sports that use both upper and lower body. Try using an elliptical machine and alternate between intervals of pumping your arms heavy for 30secs and then focusing on your legs for 45secs or use the ski-erg and squat every time you pull the ropes.
• You don’t have a plan. Getting into the gym and doing something different will certainly get you fitter but if you have a specific goal then you need a specific plan to match that goal. There is no ‘on exercise fits all’ program.
• You don’t push yourself enough. Fitness should be fun but if you’re able to read your book on a CV machine or you barely raise your heart rate, let alone break a sweat, than chances are you’re not working hard enough and definitely not seeing changes that you feel you deserve.
• You don’t take advantage of the expert staff that work in the gym. They are qualified in this field and can help you reach your goals quicker and more safely than if you tried alone. You may be working hard but actually doing the wrong things to reach your specific goals. Ask for help, it’s what they are there for!
• You don’t do unilateral training. Leg press, leg curl, dumbbell press, pull-down……do you always use both levers at the same time? Yes, it gets the session done quicker but if you have imbalances between your left and right side then the only way to fix these is by training one side at a time.
• You leave without stretching. This is a tricky one. You don’t want to overstretch as you will lose some of the tightness that you need (try jumping high or long without tightness in your hamstrings, not a hope!). You also don’t want to overstretch after a tough legs session as this will increase the micro-tears that you have just achieved in your muscles and so will take longer to recover but you should stretch about 3 times a week to open your hip-flexors, pull back your shoulders and relieve any tension in your lower back.
By incorporating these small changes into your training you will see a big difference in your results. Yes, there are other factors like diet and sleep to consider but while you are on the gym floor you may as well get the most from your time there!