Call it a rut, a plateau, or poor training, not all gym sessions are created equal. As veterans of the weightroom, you know results take hard work, consistency, a balanced diet, and most importantly, time. However, even when we’re checking all the boxes we should to maximize our results, frustration can easily set in when we do not see or feel the fruits of our labor.
Even though patience is the name of the game, there could be other factors getting in the way. Regular weight lifters are still prone to common mistakes that may be hindering you from achieving optimal results you are working so hard for. In fact, it is easy for many of these mistakes to occur subconsciously when you head to the gym consistently every week.
Unfortunately, these common mistakes can be reflected through your poor form, lack of performance and can lead you to injuries. Besides good technique and gradual progression, injury prevention is one of the key factors in achieving your gym goals. Do some research, find perfect hinged braces for your knees that suits your body well and stay healthy in the long term.
If you feel like you aren’t getting out what you’re putting into your workouts, make sure you aren’t making these five common mistakes:
Using Your Phone
Easily the most common distraction in the weight room is the heavy use of phones. Not only is this problem common between sets, but it’s becoming increasingly popular mid-exercises as well! I cannot remember the last time I went to the gym without seeing someone staring at their phone while performing hip adductors or while on the leg press. And of course, the rising popularity of the gym selfie seems to be as important to some as working out in itself. Sometimes, being on our phones can be completely unconscious since we also use them for music; simply changing your playlist can steamroll into responding to a couple texts than scrolling through Instagram.
Not only does checking your phone draw your attention away from the integrity of your work out, but it’s a slippery slope to how one glance can completely kill your momentum. To ensure you are completely focused on your exercises, put your phone on airplane mode so you won’t be distracted by incoming notifications. That way, you can stay completely focused on the exercises and ensure that phone breaks are not extending your breaks between sets for too long.
Not Monitoring your Breaks
Similar to fighting screen addictions while at the gym, other distractions between sets could be the reason you are not seeing results as you would like. Breaks are easy to lose track of between catching your breath and preparing for your next rep. Depending on your style of strength training, ideal time between sets can vary. For high reps and lower weight sets, between 45 second and 2 minute breaks are usually advised; for heavy powerlifting, three to five minute rests between reps are recommended. The purpose of this break is of course to recover enough strength before pursuing your next rep or set with maximal energy. However, letting your muscles sit for too long between exercises will negate maximum results by not optimally stressing them.
In addition to staying more aware during your breaks, think about setting a timer or using an app to structure your time between exercises. This small bit of discipline can go a long way for seeing results.
Not Tracking your Workouts
If you are not seeing the physical results that you would like, odds are that you are not continuing to challenge your body. If growing in strength and muscle size is your goal, tracking and building upon your workouts themselves is crucial. This means that as your muscles become comfortable with certain weight ranges, you need to be conscious of consistently increasing your weights.
This balance can become tricky: how much weight should you add without risking injury? Additionally, remembering all of your weight ranges and reps/sets week to week is extremely difficult, which can also skew how much you should be increasing your weights.
Tracking your workouts may seem tedious, but it can be the difference maker needed to break out of a plateau. There are countless options available today that make keeping track of your workouts simple and stress free. Keeping a detailed log of your workouts is absolutely critical to push yourself to the next level, especially in terms of achieving long-term progress. Countless studies indicate how incorporating data into your fitness regime build motivation as users can see their tangible progress. In fact, most gym software systems provide for members to synchronize their personal data from wearables or smart equipment, allowing them to keep a comprehensive log that can be easily accessed at any time.
Just like going to the gym becomes a routine, following a certain regimen every week for certain body parts can also be the cause for plateauing. Our bodies were meant to adapt to familiarity, therefore it is crucial to keep changing up your exercising patterns. If you keep the same exact routine every leg day, even if you are increasing the weight, your body will adapt to the movement, which will stop you from pushing your muscles to the next level.
To combat this, try to constantly keep your body guessing. Whether its varying your routines with new supersets or trying new isolation exercises, find new ways to engage with your body. Take advantage of the countless online or social media resources you can draw inspiration from to spice up your next work out.
Disregarding Mind-Muscle Connection
The merit of mind-muscle connection during strength training is preached by every big-name bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast. As mentioned in many of the aforementioned mistakes, losing concentration or letting your mind wander during exercises can completely undermine your work out. Mind-muscle connection is a huge part of that!
Mind-muscle connection generally speaks to focusing all your attention on the exact muscle group you are exercising to maximize feel the movement more intensely. Besides the science behind mind-muscle connection, the general concept echoes how mentally concentrating in on your muscles will ensure that you are working them as effectively as you can. Never underestimate the power of the mind during your workouts!
Although nothing beats persistence and time in terms of reaching our fitness goals, there are small ways you can be more mindful to optimize your work out. Avoiding these mistakes will help you stay mentally and physically connected to your work out, helping you build strength and break through dreaded fitness plateaus.
Laura is a Marketing Specialist for Perfect Gym Software. She is a native born Los Angeleno recently relocated to Warsaw, Poland who spends most of her time at the gym, on an airplane, or online shopping.