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9 Common Gym Mistakes

WebMD provides insight into common mistakes that can lessen the impact of your exercise routine.

Exercise Mistake #7: Improper exercise technique.

When you don’t know how to use a machine or perform an exercise properly, you can easily confuse mechanical inefficiency with caloric burn, Peterson says. Doing an exercise wrong can also lead to injury. “If you get injured, you can’t work out,” Lucett says. “And, if you can’t work out, you won’t be burning calories in the gym.”

The challenge, of course, is knowing when you’re doing something wrong -- especially if you’re relying on techniques from “back in the day.” Exercise science has evolved tremendously in the past few decades, and so have weight machines. So get an experienced gym employee to do the rounds with you, or consider hiring a personal trainer for a session or two (see tip #9).

Exercise Mistake #8:Doing too much too soon.

In addition to injuring yourself, if you jump into an exercise program too soon, you can become overly sore. Being sore isn’t bad; it’s actually your body’s way of telling you that it’s building muscle. But working out too hard, especially early on, can have a detrimental effect on your motivation.

Another symptom of overtraining is fatigue, which will impact the amount of activity you do the rest of the day. “You’re not burning a lot of calories in the gym. Most of your calories are expended throughout the other 23 hours,” he says. “It’s vital to make sure that what you’re doing during that hour translates into increased caloric expenditure the rest of the day.” The solution? Make sure you get a personalized program to help with your workout. Many gyms now have a computer that will do just this. If not, someone on staff will be able to help. Many people don’t realize it, but periodic one-on-one sessions are often included with those membership fees. Be sure to ask.

Exercise Mistake #9: Not working with a professional who is certified by an accredited organization.

A professional will also make sure that you don’t fall prey to any of these traps. “A personal trainer is your insurance policy to make sure you get the maximum efficiency out of your efforts,” Peterson says.

So whether it’s a certified personal trainer or an experienced gym employee, consider working with someone to customize your training regimen. He or she will take the guesswork out of the equation, create a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs, make sure you’re doing your workout correctly and even give you tips on proper diet - an even bigger piece of the weight loss puzzle. If you stick with it, you’ll finally start to see those pounds disappear.

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Reviewed on May 06, 2009

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