Don’t let your gym work against you. Watch out for these common pitfalls, suggests fitness expert Althea Shah.
Like everything else, a workout also has its own set of etiquettes and rules which, if not followed, can send your regimen for a toss. Being able to drag yourself every day to the gym is good, but even more important is to have the correct know-how of the dos and don’ts while exercising. Althea Shah, fitness expert from Gold’s Gym India, Mumbai, lists the common dangers prevalent in the gym.
Out of form: All exercises are designed in a specific manner to provide optimal results. It’s common knowledge that lifting maximum weight (as per one’s capacity) during the last set of any exercise provides maximum benefit. It helps one attain ‘muscle fatigue’ which gives the ‘after-burn’ effect (calorie burn after finishing the workout). However, the worst thing that one can do is to compromise on the right ‘form’ so as to be able to lift that ‘extra’ weight.
Without the best form, workload goes waste or becomes unproductive. Those who swing weights while lifting and bend their backs during a bicep curl are at a high risk of injuries.
Lifting too much: Never lift more than what your muscles can handle. Gradual, progressive resistance is a far more effective way to increase muscle strength. When helping somebody with his workout, align your body such that it allows you to aid the lifter, without any risk of injury.
Keep it clean: Always wipe the equipment with a gym towel before and after use as it helps prevent spread of diseases. Though there’s a lot of etiquette emphasis on wiping equipment (such as the cardio machines) after use, it is also imperative to take your health in your own hands and wipe it before use as germs could still be transferred from adjacent machines.
Don’t go barefoot: The human traffic in locker rooms, combined with absence of sunlight, creates a perfect environment for germs to flourish. Always wear footwear to avoid athlete’s foot, a fungus infection that usually starts with itchy scales and blisters between the toes. Footwear will also keep you from slipping on wet tiles.
Those frequenting jacuzzis and pools are at high risk of catching contagious skin infections such as dermatitis. Chlorine in the water kills most germs, but if it doesn’t contain enough chlorine, you could catch a hair-follicle infection which needs antibiotic treatment.
Junk the mobile: Gym is for working out. So do just that. Smsing and chatting on phone not only wastes time, but the smart ones who try to multi-task their workouts with cellphone activity are at high risk of injuries. Treadmill accidents account for more than onethird of the reported injuries, with people either tripping or falling off them. Learn to use the machine first and refrain from checking your cell phone while working out. Also, be careful not to go too close to someone lifting heavy weights. He/she might, by mistake, drop them on your feet.
Fit to size: The gym equipment is designed to accommodate a wide range of body types and sizes, so it’s imperative that you adjust it to your size. Not doing so reduces the machine’s impact on your muscle. The muscle, hence, goes partially trained, leading to sluggish contribution in muscular growth.
Don’t jerk: When you jerk the weight, it’s likely that you’re jerking other muscle groups as well. This can lead to strain and injury. The back muscles are particularly vulnerable to such injuries. Remember: control the weight, don’t let it control you.
Right equipment: Before using any equipment, check that there are no loose nuts or screws on the machine. If the machine rattles or works with a jerk during exercise, stop immediately. Also, check cables of weight machines to ensure they aren’t frayed or damaged, and are covered with a protection sleeve.