Lack of Routine:
I feel the average gym goer walks into the gym, works out and expects results to just happen. What a lot of people don’t understand and I myself didn’t for a while is that going to the gym is different from progressing at the gym. Anyone can go do something for the sake of doing something. For example, anyone can shoot a basketball, but can anyone sink 3 pointers like Steph Curry? What separates a professional athlete from someone who just throws a basketball at a hoop, hoping it to go in. Before we consider this, hypothetically let’s say the average person and Steph Curry are gifted the same athletically, same height, weight age etc. What separates us from Steph Curry? It’s that he has a routine. That is why even though we are the same person, our random attempts of shooting the basketball, will never add up to the level at which Steph Curry can shoot. The same can be said about two guys going to the gym. You have Guy A, who goes to the gym because he likes looking good and gets a good pump from it, he just walks into the gym and does whatever he feels like doing that day. You have Guy B, who also goes to the gym for the same reasons as Guy A, but he has a routine. Who do you think in the long run will yield the best results from the gym? Guy B, the one with the routine.
Even before stepping into the gym Guy B is preparing for his workout at the gym. Being it getting a good night sleep, to eating properly and having a game plan when he is ready to lift. Have you ever noticed how professional athletes even before tipoff are preparing their mind and bodies for what is to come. Look at athletes like Lebron James even before the game starts he has shot the ball, warmed up his core, done foot drills, stretched and has mentally prepared himself for game time. I believe this is what separates Lebron James from other NBA athletes, yes it helps that he is gifted athletically, but at the same time he invests and works on his game harder than any other NBA athlete even when he is known as ‘the King.’
If you want to give your all at the gym and yield the best results you can from it, come up with a routine that works for you and stick to it.
Lack of Stretching/Warming Up:
For years, static stretching was the go-to method for athletes and people to warm up prior to working out. Even as a kid in PE I remember doing static stretches before we would start whatever sports activity was going on that day for us. It has been found that while static stretching is ok to use for warming up, dynamic stretching is a superior and safer way.
You might ask what is the difference between static and dynamic? Just like their definitions imply, static stretching is when you hold a stretched position for more than 10 seconds sometimes lasting to 30 seconds. Dynamic is a form of stretching that involves you moving and stretching at the same time.
What makes Dynamic stretching so much better than static?
Dynamic stretches since you are moving and stretching you are activating muscles that you will use during your workout. An example would be doing lunges with a twist, where you are warming up your hips, legs, and core all in the same movement. So, come time to do Squats, Leg Press or any other movement you have already engaged the muscles during your warm up. By warming up with movement you activate the whole group of muscles (Primary and Secondary) rather than just your primary ones.
Note: Primary muscles are those in which control movement and Secondary muscles are those that assist Primary muscles to complete an exercise.
Numerous articles have been published about research done comparing the pros and cons of each variation of stretching. The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a review of 31 studies that were performed a concluded that active warm-ups or dynamic warm-ups can enhance performance and strength in athletes. Compared to static stretching has little to no effect on performance outcomes.
“Upper body static stretching warm-ups of a duration ≤60 s had no impact on power outcomes. Long–duration (>90 s) static stretching can also be conducted without performance decrement, we found strong evidence that high-load dynamic upper body warm-ups enhance both strength and power outcomes.”
Numerous more articles and research exist out there yielding the same result, where dynamic stretching is a superior way of warming up to static stretching.
Before you start any exercise always ensure you do a warmup that primes your body for whatever you are about to do. Not only will this allow you to be less injury prone it will also allow you to perform at maximum efficiency during your work out.
Lack of Goals:
Why do you want to go to the gym? What is your motivation for doing so? I think a lot of people go to the gym to lose weight, but once they lose that weight and fulfill that goal what is next? Having a goal to lose weight by no means is a ‘bad’ goal, but it lacks longevity in my own opinion. Being someone that reached their goal of losing over 100lbs I didn’t know what I wanted to do next in the gym. Because of this indecisiveness, a lot of my motivation for going to the gym was gone and I needed to find a reason again to give me that inner drive. What did I do? I set up realistic short-term, weekly, monthly and yearlong goals. This varies from person to person but I would highly suggest you take some time and be real with yourself and write down what you want to get from the gym.
Just remember that what works for someone else may or may not work for you. Personalize your goals and your own gym journey and I guarantee you will yield more benefits instead of blindly trying to follow someone else’s goals.