What exercise mistakes could injure me?

You’ve finally made a decision to transform your health and body.  You’ve plucked up the courage to join a gym. The gym induction is done and you’re ready to get started.


Maybe you can’t remember everything you were told at the gym induction and feel a bit shy and intimated to ask for help and guidance. Possibly you are nervous about getting injured if you get it wrong. The fear of injury affected my confidence until I learnt how to reduce the risks.


Below are some of the common small exercise mistakes I made, which resulted in injury. I have also included some tips to avoid them.

Not warming up properly. The warm up helps to prepare the body for exercise by making the muscles flexible and able to move more easily.  Tight muscles are more likely to tear or stress the joints making injury likely.   

DO warm up for at least 5 mins – try brisk walking on the treadmill, use the rower or cross trainer.  Circle the arms, do some high knee lifts, straight leg kicks to mobilise the joints and stretch the muscles..

Not cooling down properly. It’s tempting to skip the cool down because you don’t have time or it’s boring.  The cool down helps the body recover from exercise. The toxins built up during exercise are removed. The heart and breathing rate return back to normal and the muscles recover their optimal length and tension.

DO spend at least 5 mins gently stretching the muscles you have just worked. Hold the stretches for between 20-30 seconds.

Not using the correct form when performing an exercise.  Exercising with incorrect technique can lead to injury.  For example knee problems can develop if squats are done incorrectly.  Abdominal exercises without proper engagement of the core often cause back problems.  

DO ask for help from the gym instructor if you are unsure about how to perform a particular exercise.  They are there to help you. Or if asking for help still seems too daunting book some personal training sessions to learn the correct techniques.

Doing the same thing for too long.  It is easy to get into the habit of doing the same routine in exactly the same way every time or for too long.  Over time, the muscles can become overused and weaken. When this happens the body starts to overcompensate by recruiting other muscles to help out, such as your back and shoulders. This leads to poor posture and increased risk of injury.     

DO listen to your body and stop when you feel your body move out of alignment and you lose the correct technique.  Every 4 or 6 weeks change the type of exercises you do so that the body doesn’t get stuck in one particular posture all the time.

Not enough recovery time between exercise sessions. Exercise can help you look and feel better but if you don’t allow yourself time to recover sufficiently between sessions, your muscles start to become overused.  

Do give yourself 48 hours recovery before working the same muscles again.  Include active recovery between sessions. This is a form of gentle exercise that aids healing such as walking, yoga, pilates, massages, foam rolling.  I take a week off from my normal exercise regime every month or every 6 weeks. I spend that week doing active recovery only.

Copying somebody else’s workout. I love watching what other people are doing in the gym.  It’s a great way of getting new ideas to try out. However blindly copying what others are doing can lead to injuries if the exercise is not suitable for your body or you are not sure of the correct technique.  

Do ask a gym instructor’s advice about a particular exercise you have seen and like the look of. 

Too much too soon. If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised for a long while, lifting heavy weights or doing too many repetitions can stress the muscles and lead to injury.  

DO start with low weights and low repetitions and then progress slowly by either increasing the weight a little bit but keeping the number of repetitions the same or keep the weight the same but increase the number of repetitions or increase the number of sets, keeping the reps and weight the same.  Don’t try and increase all 3 things at once.

If the fear of getting injured is getting in the way of you starting a health and fitness regime, get in touch and let’s have a chat about how I can help.  You can book your Free Getting to Know You call here.

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