Monday, July 16, 2012

Time wasters in the gym

This article from the Huffington Post discusses what the author calls the top 10 time wasters in the gym.  For the most part, he's is right

Here are the author's top 10 with my thoughts:

1. Spinning Your Wheels.
This item is not titled very well.  The author's example of spinning your wheels is lifting weights that are too light.  To this point, he's absolutely right!  Direct hit!  For the most part, if you can do something for more than, say 12 repetitions (the article says 15), it is time to add weight.  And even that number is a little high.  For people who are more experienced, I'd say 8-10.  I go with higher repetitions and lower weight with newer clients to reduce the chance for injury.  Granted, I've said all this before.

2. Failing to Plan.
Here, he's talking about being focused within the workout.  To solve this, he hopes for a pre-workout plan that you can stick to during the workout.  But, having a very strict plan can cause some trouble if things come up as you go.  Instead of focusing on a workout plan, I'd just focus on, well, being focused.  Now, having said that, it can be very easy to be focused and then just not know what you are doing.  That can lead to just as much wandering through your workout as being disorganized.  Here's where a trainer like me (or the trainers at your gym, who I'm sure are very good as well) can help you out.  That's exactly what we are here for!

3. Using Bad Form.
Absolutely!  Using bad form isn't just a time waster but can also be dangerous.  Granted, his example here is a bicep curl which is a low-value isolation exercise.  But, it is a good example of poor form hindering results.

4. Being Too Social.
Another direct hit!  Being social in the gym is a double-edged sword.  Having those "gym friends" who you want to catch up with is a great motivator to get in the door and makes the time there so much more pleasant.  But, taking that time to catch up gets in the way of the workout.  Look at it this way.  If you would run into that person out on the street, how much time would you spend chatting?  If you would spend that time to talk, that's great!  Just know that your time in the gym needs to be extended to make up for it.

5. Getting Stuck in a Rut.
Here the author is talking about doing the same thing time and time again.  Most people think "ruts" are mostly caused by doing the same routine.  To some extent, they are right.  In reality, though, most ruts are caused by people not challenging themselves.  Workouts should be tough.  You should have to work.  Trying new things can help renew that intensity level, but it isn't the end-all that some make it out to be.

6. Watching TV or Reading.
Oh, yes, he's absolutely right!  Like socializing in the gym, mid-workout distractions are a great way to get through a workout, but can come at a cost.  Sometimes, they distract you from the fact that you should be working hard.

7. Resting Too Long.
And here's another great one.  Tougher sets definitely require longer rest periods both physically and mentally, so the set rules for 60-90 seconds rest don't always apply.  But, do take that point.  Take the time you need to recover and get right back to it.  To the writer's point, doing "super-sets" where alternate between opposing muscle groups is a great way to cut down that rest time.  I do take issue with his example of curls and tricep extensions because they are isolation exercises.  Instead, try alternating between leg and arm exercises.  Or try a pushing exercise and a pulling exercise instead.

8. Isolating Muscle Groups.
There we go!  I'd put this higher on the list, too.  If you are trying to lose weight by lifting?  Forget the arm curls and go do squats, push-ups, pull-downs.  If you've read stuff from me before, this might just sound familiar.  Yeah, they're tougher so you can't do as many, but that's the whole point!!

9. Changing Clothes at the Gym.
I think this is the only real miss on the list.  While he's right about changing before hand to make sure you don't skip it all together, you are going to have to change into and out of gym clothes somewhere.  At our gym (and many others), we go out of our way to provide a place to change, shower, and whatever else to make using the gym more convenient.  Why not take advantage of it?  And, if you get caught up in conversation in the locker room, just use the same test that I use for conversations while working out.  Would you spend time to talk on the street?  If so, just add to your gym time to make up for it.

10. Waiting until Afternoon to Work Out.
This one is very true..  for some people.  In fact, it is probably true for a lot of evening exercisers.  But, some people just can't get good workouts in the morning.  This line item falls into the typical "What is the ideal X" mentality.  The answer is a little different for each individual.  Experiment with workout times for weights, cardio, group fitness classes, and the stuff outside.  You are completely unique - just like everyone else - and will have success at different times.  You may even find that one form of exercise works better in the morning while others are best done in the evening.