Running away from fitness foibles

Top ten workout mistakes and how to avoid them

Dec. 14, 2002 (From — “Today” fitness expert Steve Zim owns a gym in L.A., giving him plenty of first-hand experience correcting the many mistakes people make. He shares his list of the ten most common mistakes so we can all learn from others. "You should be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes to an hour. Guys that say they spend two hours at the gym probably did four exercises with huge gaps in between."

  1. Don’t eat before your workout — Eating within one and a half hours before your workout doesn’t allow enough time for you to digest your food. By scheduling your meals at the proper time you will get the most out of your workout — you can’t workout at 100 percent if your body is busy doing two major things at once.

  2. Warm up first — People are always forgetting how important it is to do a 5 minute warm-up before working out: you should do at least 5 minutes of aerobics before you stretch or lift weights so your muscles are warm and pliable. Also, stretching cold muscles can cause injuries.

  3. Run from your heels your to toes

  4. Don’t bounce your stretches — Now that you’ve warmed up, you can stretch. Often people bouncing while they stretch and this is incorrect.

  5. Position machines correctly — People often don’t know how to position weight machines correctly. In leg machines your knees should be right at the point where the machine hinges. On arm machines your shoulders or elbows should be at the hinge points depending on the machine.

  6. Breath right — More often than not, we breathe wrong. We should breathe out on the exertion part of an exercise to get 100 percent out of our movement.

  7. Use the correct weight — We should find the weight that makes the last three to four reps of your set a real challenge. The reps leading up to those last three to four reps are just really the warm up for the point in the exercise where it’s the most effective.

  8. Don’t bounce the weights — Don’t bounce when using weights. This is a bad mistake, because if you’re jerking the weight, you’re most likely jerking the muscle as well. This can lead to strain and injury, with the muscles of the back being particularly vulnerable. control the weight - don’t let it control you.

  9. Do right number of reps — If you are looking to bulk up — which some people might want to do — keep the reps to no more than 10. If you want to lean out use lighter weight and do 15-20 reps per set.

  10. Don’t rest between sets — We take too much time between sets and one should rest no more than one minute between sets.