5 Bad Gym Habits That Could Be Holding You Back
by Lindsay Tigar
When you're on the road to improving your health, developing a consistent and effective gym routine is essential.
Just as important? Making sure you avoid bad gym habits that could slow your progress, leave you exhausted, or even increase your risk of injury.
The tricky part for most beginners — and even seasoned workout warriors — is knowing exactly what might be preventing progress. From skipping stretches because you're too tired to consuming more protein than your body needs, here are five bad gym habits to avoid.
1. Skipping Your Warm-Up
When you're amped to begin a fitness routine (or in a rush to get to the office), it can be tempting to skip doing a few light exercises before — and stretching after — your workout. But here's the deal: Many studies have proven just how important these short windows of prep and recovery are!
When you don't take a moment to ease into or out of an hour-long sweat session, you can experience more soreness in your muscles and risk straining them. Since warm-ups and cool-downs are meant to help your body process oxygen and regulate your heart rate, stretching can help keep you safe, healthy, and at your optimal performance level.
2. Eating Too Much Protein
In recent years, many fitness enthusiasts have been adding protein to their diets — sometimes more than they actually need. While it's recommended that men and women consume differing amounts of protein based on their bodyweight and individual training goals, if you're constantly reaching for protein sources before and after your workouts (in addition to regular meals), you're probably taking in a surplus!
Wondering why this makes the list of bad gym habits? Studies show that excess protein can cause dehydration and weight gain, lead to digestion issues, and heighten your risk for heart disease.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
If you're not downing enough H2O during your gym visit, chances are good that you're going to experience some discomfort. Regardless of the season or type of workout, water is essential for healthy bodily functions.
When we exercise, we lose water via sweat — so if you're not drinking water before, during, and after a workout, you might deprive your system of the nutrients it needs to keep going. As studies indicate, not prioritizing water intake can have an impact on weight, performance, energy levels, and countless other aspects of your health and fitness. Bottoms up!
4. Working Out Every Single Day
Once you're feeling comfortable in your gym routine, you might feel the urge to push yourself harder than you should. Accordingly, one of the most common bad gym habits is skipping rest days.
Recent studies show that a rest day is actually healthier for your body, since it gives you adequate time to recover and reduce inflammation. Without this break, you are more likely to get injured or experience bone loss.
Consider this your permission slip to spend some time away from the gym! Feel free to stretch, unwind, and prepare for tomorrow's workout.
5. Forgetting Your Form
Form matters! And not just when you're lifting weights — form is an important factor in all exercises. When you aren't positioning your body safely, you can put unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints (and lose out on the benefits of the exercise). If you're unsure of how to properly move your body during a workout, don't be afraid to ask for help!
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.