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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 #5: Not progressing/changing your program.

When you do the same workout over and over again, the body has no reason to change. “You’ll see an initial loss, but eventually you’ll get to a point of diminishing returns,” Lucett says. 

Another challenge, Peterson says, is getting away from the machines and routines that you feel most comfortable with.

“You like the feeling of aerobic exercise, so you don’t do what it takes to maintain your muscle mass, which is the body tissue that burns calories -- the furnace,” he says. “Or you do only strength training, which maintains muscle mass, but you don’t lose weight." Those little string-bean guys who run marathons? They often don’t do anything to ensure the success of the process by, say, engaging in strength training. You have to have a mix.

Exercise Mistake #6: Spot reduction training.

Those articles that guarantee you can lose fat from your abs or glutes? Forget ‘em, say the experts. “People need to understand that genetics is the primary factor in determining where that body fat comes from,” Lucett says. “Your body is going to take fat from anywhere it wants.” The answer? Just focus on burning calories through a well-balanced training program. You’ll eventually lose the weight from all areas of your body.

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).

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