Common Mistakes People Make at the Gym

Vijay Simha, fitness trainer at Apollo Fitness Studios and Vinod Channa, celebrity fitness trainer share advice on the ways to make the most of your workout.

By Maryann Savina Xavier
03 Jun 2021


Not hiring a fitness trainer

Everyone needs a good gym trainer, whether you are a novice or a ripped everyday athlete. A well-qualified coach will help you get started and chart your progress so you don’t hit the inevitable workout plateau.
“You should hire a good trainer in the first stage,” says Channa. “Learn from the trainer, understand everything and then work out on your own. If you can’t hire somebody, start with a trainer for one or two months to understand the form, the correct technique and range of motion for each exercise.” Learning the correct way to exercise will prevent injuries. “Any movement requires a certain level of conditioning, pace, mobility, flexibility along with mind-body coordination,” he adds.


Not adapting the exercise to your fitness level

Not everyone has the same body type and can perform the same range of motions. So, it is important to know how and where to begin your fitness journey. “I just can’t give a beginner two dumbbells and tell them to lie down on a bench and do a chest press. They won’t be able to push both the dumbbells at the same time. Their muscles are not coordinated, there is no muscle memory of doing such kinds of workouts,” says Simha.
Gradually increasing the intensity of an exercise regime ensures safer workouts, better conditioning and faster results—weight loss, fat burn or toned appearance. “So, we put first-timers on machines till they get used to the hand movements. This is done for about 2 months (around 8-12 weeks). Then we slowly move them to free weights from the 13th week. Initially, we ask them to work out only for 40-45 minutes, by then their lactic acid secretions reach the threshold point—their muscles are exhausted. Then as they progress to the intermediate stage, we increase the length of the workout to 60-120 minutes,” adds Simha.




Not following a workout plan

A fitness plan is a must. It measures your current fitness level, based on which a workout plan should be custom-made to help you reach your fitness goals. “Many people prefer following YouTube videos or fitness apps for exercises. First of all, they are not aware of their body type, how their body is responding to weight gain or loss, does weight gain happen faster for them or losing weight; or both? They need to consider all the above aspects to be able to plan their training program perfectly,” he adds.
“Don’t start looking on the internet for exercise plans”, warns Channa. In some videos, there are advanced movements that trained professionals perform after years of practice. And, beginners don’t understand this, their bodies are not conditioned for those moves. As a result, they get injured,” he adds.


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Skipping on warm-up and cool-down


Warm-ups and cooldowns are as important as the workout itself. In their absence, you can injure yourself, a good warm-up helps you exercise at the required intensity to burn fat while a good cool-down routine can kickstart your recovery. “If people don’t warm up before a workout, there won’t be any vasodilation—widening of blood vessels, which helps in supplying more oxygen to the organs. Their muscles will be very tight before they work out,” says Simha.


“The same applies for a cool down. If they don’t do a proper cool down, they won’t be able to get rid of lactic acid. This will lead to muscle cramps, body soreness and muscle tightness,” he adds.

“A five to ten-minute warm-up is not enough. You should actually warm up for 20 minutes, this depends on how intense your workout is and what your lifestyle is. People who have a 10-12 hour sitting job need to warm up more because their joints, ligaments and muscles tend to be stiff. They can’t perform a full range of motions. And in that condition, if you lift weight, there are chances of dislocation and injury to muscle and ligament,” explains Channa.


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Not breathing correctly


Breathing is an important part of the workout because it enhances the effectiveness of the workout, reduces the strain on your mind and body, and helps in preventing injuries. “In 90% of the exercises, it is required that you breathe in for movements towards gravity and breathe out for movements against gravity. Only when you’re doing triceps, you’ll have to breathe in when you are going against the gravity and while pushing weights upwards, you’ll breathe out,” says Simha


Not fueling the body sufficiently

Meals need to be an equal distribution between proteins, carbs and fats, not just leaning towards pure protein. “Nourishing your body as per the intensity of exercise is very important. As per the nutrition standard, you need to consume 1- 1.5 g of protein according to your body weight. If you’re eating protein, you need fibre to digest that protein. Your carbohydrate intake depends on the kind of movements you perform. Suppose you’re doing 2-3 workouts for 1 ½ – 2 hours, you need a certain amount of carbohydrates as that decreases the fat percentage of your body. So, if a person is thin, they need energy which they can obtain through carbohydrates. And if a person is overweight, they can cut down on carbohydrates, so they can utilise body fat for energy,” says Channa.


Not devoting enough time to recovery

Recovery allows your body to heal after a strenuous session and helps you recuperate for your next workout. “You have to give at least 24-72 hour gap between each muscle group. If the muscles don’t recover fast, it will lead to muscle tears or injuries and you won’t see any results,” shares Simha.


Not paying attention

Those quick phone calls are negating all the effort you are putting to sweat it out! “It is common for people to keep talking on the phone even while working out. They do one set and then talk for 10 minutes. And, then they come back to the same weight that they were doing on the third set. This is futile because your body begins to cool down after 2-4 minutes of taking a break,” says Channa. So, keep your phone away for at least 1 hour and concentrate on your exercise. “Make it your priority. Because that one hour makes up for everything you lost because of age, lifestyle or medical issues,” advises Channa.


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