Top 10 Fitness Time-Wasters
Avoid these time thieves and make the most of your trip to the gym.
3. Using Bad Form. Don't just do the exercise; do it right,
says Fabio Comana, MA, MS, certification and exam development manager for the
American Council on Exercise.
Improper exercise technique not only poses a greater risk
of injury to muscles and joints, it also wastes your time.
You may be thinking you're strengthening one muscle when in fact you are
straining another or stressing a joint. For example, doing bicep curls with
your knees hyper-extended and your back muscles shortened could do more harm to
your knees and back than good to your arms.
Fitness trainers or floor assistants are on hand at most gyms to assist you
with proper form. Use them. Ask for someone to walk you through the equipment,
showing you proper technique with machines and free weights.
4. Being Too Social. "Social support is great," says Trese.
"Knowing that a familiar face will be there at the same time" can keep
you going with your exercise regimen. "But you don't want to make it just a
When walking on treadmills with a companion, Lockhart
suggests agreeing to chat during the warm-up and cool-down, but to stay quiet
and commit to pushing yourself for the time in between.
"Work at an intensity that burns significant calories and is too high to
carry on a full-blown conversation," Lockhart suggests. When you work out
with a friend or friends, set some rules first to be sure everyone stays on
track with time, Trese advises. Try doing 8 to 10 exercises in 30 minutes, and
resting no longer than a minute between exercises.
5. Getting Stuck in a Rut. Muscles have memory, says
Pillarella. They adapt, they adjust -- and our bodies plateau.
"If you always use the same piece of equipment, your
body will become adept at that type of exercise," she says.
Instead, mix it up.
"If you always use the treadmill, get on the bike," Lockhart suggests.
"If you always work at the same pace, practice doing intervals -- shorter
surges to build your upper-end capacity. It'll jog the body's systems -- make
your body wake up and have to regroup."
To add intervals, increase incline or speed for short periods during cardio
exercise, says Trese. With your strength routine, change the order of the
exercises or rotate from machines to free weights.
"With more versatility, your muscles won't be prepared and your body will
not automatically know how to respond," Trese says. This will keep things
fresh for your mind, too, she says, "making workout routines less
Lockhart advises varying your exercise program every six to eight weeks if
you're working out consistently. This is enough time for the body to benefit
from the routine without getting complacent.