Before you get curling, pressing, and lifting, check this list of common weight-room mistakes and check it twice. Awareness is key for a lean, mean, fit machine and will have you well on your way to conquering those trouble spots. With a few simple swaps and changes, you can master strength training and your fitness goals ASAP!
- You have poor posture: Lifting weights incorrectly can lead to injury and may be the reason you're not seeing your hard work pay off. Poor posture does not tone target muscles effectively and can often create a strength imbalance. Before you mirror the girl to your left — usually not a good idea — consider a few sessions with a personal trainer. Once you learn proper form, use a mirror to keep you in check and ensure you're doing exercises safely and correctly. Here are more tips for mastering proper form.
- You lift too much: Who doesn't like the benefits of the weight room? But a little too much lifting love may not be beneficial since it doesn't allow muscles the proper rest needed for recovery. Alternating strength sessions with cardio workouts and stretching will keep muscles healthy, long, and lean. And mixing up your routine will help you feel refreshed so you can continue to improve.
- You play favorites: It's easy to play favorites, especially if you're aiming for Cameron Diaz's arms (admit it, we all are!). Remember, dumbbells are not the only way to tighten and tone. Mix up your equipment to challenge muscles and keep your routine fresh. The next time you hit the gym, try kettlebells or the TRX, or keep it simple with your own body weight. Also remember to work all muscle groups, not just one area.
Two more strength-training mistakes after the break.
- You are a speed demon: Slow down, tiger, sweating and speed don't always go hand in hand. If you move too quickly, you're using momentum rather than working your muscles. Slow down your reps, engage your core, and focus on the muscles you want to target. Vary the speed at different points in the exercise to target and tone different muscles. Leave your need for speed to interval training!
- You are too focused on the number: Getting caught up in the size of the weight or the number of reps may prevent you from seeing the results you want. When it comes to lifting, make proper form the number one priority. It is better to lift a lighter weight and do fewer repetitions before sacrificing your posture, which can cause injury. Don't forget, muscles have different jobs and different strengths. Don't stick with the same weight for your entire body, and stop before you begin to feel shaky or out of control.