20 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Workout

people talking after a workout

You've made the commitment to exercise regularly. You're showing up and sweating it out, but you're not seeing the results you hoped for.

Nothing can derail your health and wellness goals more than these common workout mistakes. Check to see if you're guilty of a few—or all—of these #GymFails, then get ready to make some changes.

You don't have the proper workout attire.

That old pair of Chuck Taylors you wear to the grocery store is NOT fit to run in while you train for your first half-marathon. Invest in a good pair of shoes that complement the workout you are doing and consider purchasing some clothing just for exercise.

The right pair of shoes, breathable gear and, for women, a properly fitted sports bra really make a difference in your quest to get fit.

You skip the warm-up.

Warming-up is a key component of any workout. Take five minutes to get your blood pumping and loosen the tissues around your joints. Try a quick walk and a few dynamic stretches to get your muscles primed and ready to work.

You skip the cool-down.

Abruptly stopping at the end of a workout is hard on your body. Take five minutes to slow things down by walking, stretching or doing gentle yoga moves before you hit the showers.

You don't come in with a set plan.

Working out without a plan is like building a house without blueprints. In order to maximize your time and effort, you need to design a program that works for you.

And don't worry if you have no idea what to do. The internet is full of workouts for every interest and fitness level, so there should be no reason to grind it out on the same machines day in and day out.

You're not lifting heavy enough.

It's a simple concept, but one that repeatedly gets neglected: Muscles respond to an increase in resistance. You must lift heavier weights to see results.

You're too busy taking selfies between sets.

The gym is for working out. Period.

You forget to snooze text notifications.

Successful workouts are done in a timely manner, and if you're busy responding to texts, your workout is going to suffer. Rest periods should only last for as long as your body needs to recover, which for most people is about 30 to 60 seconds.

You push yourself when you need rest.

When you're tired, sick or over-trained, you risk injury if you continue to exert yourself. Listen to your body and rest. The gym will be there tomorrow.

You skip the pre-workout meal.

If you think cutting calories before hitting the gym is going to help you lose weight, then you're sorely mistaken. In order to complete high-intensity workouts, your body must be properly fueled and hydrated.

Related: 15 Workout Milestones Every Fit Person Should Reach

You don't eat for recovery.

Post-workout nutrition helps replenish glycogen, decrease protein breakdown and increase protein synthesis. This leads to better recovery, less muscle soreness and an increase in the body's ability to build muscle and improve immune function.

You never switch it up.

The only way to get faster, stronger and improve your fitness level is to change your workout—often. Try mixing it up at the gym by varying the exercises and amount of weight you lift, or if you're a runner, opt for a few shorter tempo runs rather than a long, slow and steady run.

You compare yourself to others.

No two bodies are the same, so stop comparing your progress—or lack thereof—with the fitness buff that looks like he lives at the gym. Consider doing a self-assessment when you start a new program and then perform periodic checks to monitor how you're doing.

Your form is atrocious.

If you're bouncing the barbell off your chest while doing a bench press, then you need to peel off some plates. Check your ego at the door, pick a lighter weight and focus on form. You'll get a better workout and reduce your risk of injury.

You're neglecting your core.

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen, which lead to better stability, balance and performance.

You lean on the cardio machines.

Nothing ruins a cardio workout like leaning on the machines. Get your hands off the bars, stand up straight and adjust the level.

You do the wrong kind of stretches.

Follow this simple rule: Dynamic stretches before your workout and static stretches after. Incorporate leg swings, arm swings, side bends, trunk rotations and high knees into your warm-up. Then try a seated hamstring stretch, standing quad stretch, calf stretch, chest and shoulder opening stretches and cat stretch during your cool-down.

You forget to pack your gym bag.

Or you accidentally turn off the alarm, the class you like is canceled, your toenail hurts... All of these amount to one word: excuses. Be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable.

You spend most of your time talking.

Talking while exercising is okay as long as your heart rate remains elevated and the focus is on your workout. If you can carry out elaborate conversations and walk at the same time, you're likely not working hard enough.

You pick the wrong workout partner.

If you run like a three-toed sloth, then don't pace yourself with the cheetah. And if your strength training goals involve powerlifting, don't work out with the "high reppers." In other words, pick your partner wisely and make sure your goals are compatible with theirs.

You don't get the recommended amount of sleep.

Adults ages 18 to 60 years old need at least seven hours of sleep a night, but it's up to you to determine your sweet spot. Some people can get by on seven hours, while others require nine or 10 to be in prime condition.

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