5 Common Workout Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

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If you’re going to the gym or working out at home regularly, you deserve kudos, no matter what your level. That's because exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health. But inadvertent mistakes in the gym could lead to injury -- and hurt, not help, your overall health. Here are five mistakes I often see people making in the gym and what you can do about it.

Form

It's essential to maintain proper form when exercising to keep your body safe and prevent injury. For example, squatting is a popular exercise, but is commonly performed incorrectly. Proper squatting technique is when your feet remain flat on the floor and your hips shift back as if sitting into a chair. Common mistakes made when squatting are rising up onto the toes allowing the knees to come forward past the toes. Taking the time to correct your form will not only improve the efficacy of the exercise, but also keep you safe from injury. I would recommend using a seated weight machine when exercising if you have trouble maintaining proper form with dumbbells. Machines are designed to keep you in proper form when exercising. Using a mirror can also be helpful for getting visual feedback.

Sets/Reps

You should determine the amount of sets and repetitions you perform based on your fitness goal. Lighter weight and higher repetitions (15 to 20 reps) are good if you are training for muscular endurance. Heavier weight and fewer repetitions (2 to 6 reps) are good if you are training for strength and power.

Progressing Weight

You should progress your weight when the exercise begins to feel that it is not productive. In other words, that you are no longer getting any benefit from doing it. Another clue to progress your weight is if you are able to do more than 30 reps of an exercise. For example, if you are able to do 50 wall push ups you can probably make the exercise more beneficial by doing 20 floor push ups instead. This will challenge your muscles more as well as save you time -- thereby, making your more productive.

Use of Equipment

If you are new to working out, I would recommend using weight machines. Weight machines can be helpful because they are designed to position your body correctly when performing the exercise. Often times, there are pictures with instructions labeled on the machine that you can refer to for proper set up. Once you are familiar with the exercise and maintaining proper form, it would be okay to progress to free standing exercises.

Fatigue of Muscles/Soreness

It is common to get sore after exercising. In fact, being sore often means our body was challenged. Normal soreness should last one to two days. Sometimes you are more sore the second day after your workout than the first day. If your soreness persists for longer than two days, it may be a sign that you overexerted yourself.

Stacy Ruffing, PT is a physical therapist at University Hospitals Rehabilitation Services at UH Concord Health Center.

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University Hospitals Sports Medicine takes a multidisciplinary approach that integrates care from medical experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment for athletes of all ages and abilities. Our fellowship-trained sports medicine specialists, primary care doctors, nutritionists, sleep experts and other health care professionals ensure the very best in health and medical care for athletes. Learn more about sports medicine at University Hospitals.

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