(1) Insanity. Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This holds true for doing the same routine over and over again at the gym. When you perform the same routine for six weeks or more, your results will start to diminish. To stimulate change in your body, you have to throw it a curveball every six weeks or sooner.

(2) Curls. The number-one over-executed exercise is the curl. Why? Because it only makes one muscle look good. It’s perfect for people who want a good-looking muscle, but this single-joint movement does little to improve your body’s health or athletic fitness. If you’re looking to work out the guns but want some added benefit, look into doing multi-joint exercises that work more than the biceps, such as pull-ups or back rows.

(3) Barefoot. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments like gym showers. With all the people going in and out of gym showers, conditions can get unsanitary. If you decide not to wear something like flip-flops to protect your feet, you run the risk of acquiring athlete’s foot, plantar warts, ringworm or even onychomycosis (a nasty infection that turns toenails hard and yellow). 

(4) Virus. A gym can be a dirty environment. Peoples sweat and germs are left behind everywhere. This causes more harm than you might think. Gerrms, such as staph infection, E. coli, Klebsiella, flu and strep are left behind on gym surfaces every day. An easy way to avoid a number of these germs is to thoroughly wipe down each surface your body comes in contact with disinfecting wipes before and after use.

(5) Form. Many people who go to the gym seem to be in a rush to add weight to the bar. They feel it will get them bigger and stronger faster. Beginning lifters, however, often sacrifice form to make those quick weight progressions. When proper form is compromised, injury can occur. When learning a new exercise, always start with light weight or even no weight at all until the exercise can be performed correctly. Exercises such as squats or deadlifts can take a few months to execute properly, especially if your body is inflexible or weak in key areas. Perfect form takes time to develop, but perfection delivers results.

(6) Slouch. We have all seen older folks who have their shoulders rolled over in a slouched position. Now take a look at the cardio section in a gym. You will see the same posture from people who are using the stair masters, elliptical machines, treadmills and stationary bikes. How do you think these older folks became slouched over in the first place? From consistently being in that same slouched position. Make sure to stand up or sit erect when working out. Engage your core and watch your overall health elevate.

(7) Cheater. You could be cheating yourself at the gym. The prime examples are treadmill and stair-climber users who have their hands on the grab handles in front of them and push all their weight back onto the handles. These users are just cheating themselves out of burned calories (or maybe they are training at too high a level). Also, when executing pull-ups, do not use your lower body to swing your way up. No matter how many you do, everyone watching knows you’re a cheater when your body starts rocking.

(8) Copycat. Don’t be that guy who copies an exercise that he’s seen someone else doing. Chances are if you’re new to the gym scene, you will likely have bad technique when copying someone else. Even worse, you may be copying a guy who is doing the exercise wrong in the first place. It is a good idea to ask a personal trainer for advice. Personal-training sessions are always the best option if you can afford them.

(9) Be normal. Have you ever seen a video clip of someone flying off a treadmill and crashing into a wall? Those videos are funny to watch, but it’s not so funny if it happens to you. When on a treadmill, don’t get cocky. Don’t try to walk sideways, run faster than the tread or throw in the Ali Shuffle during your workout. It may seem cool at the time, but this is a case where the treadmill will always win. Misusing any piece of gym equipment can have serious consequences.

(10) Fuel. Anyone who has had an early-morning workout on an empty stomach will probably never forget to eat before a gym session again. Yes, there is some controversy over whether “fasting cardio” burns more calories, but the side effects of having low blood sugar are nauseating—literally. It is better to fuel up than throw up when splitting hairs in the calorie counting game. Just make sure you give yourself around 30 minutes between eating and working out.

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