Going to the gym looks a little different for everyone depending on your fitness level and health goals. But there are a few common mistakes that can hinder anyone’s progress, whether you’re a gym newbie, trying to get back into the routine or an experienced pro.

If you want to make the most of your time at the gym, the key is finding ways to work out smarter, not harder.

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make with their gym routine—and how to fix them. 

Not showing up consistently

A gym membership is only as valuable as you make it. You’re already paying for the membership, so the next step is to put it to good use. 

Start by making a weekly plan and sticking to it. Put gym time in your calendar and treat it like an appointment you can’t miss. If you’re a beginner, it’s normal to have some anxiety about going to the gym, but with a little willpower, you can get through it. And you’ll be happy you did! 

Diving in without a warm-up

Going from sedentary to 100 without a warm-up is a recipe for injury. A warm-up increases your heart rate and helps oxygen reach your muscles to improve the efficiency of your overall workout.

Even if you only have limited time to fit in a workout, make the warm-up time a priority. Try starting out with a brisk five-minute walk before a run, doing a few bodyweight exercises before adding weights, or including time to stretch before a HIIT session.  

Training with an injury

Healing from an injury takes time, and that can be frustrating when you were making progress on your training regimen. But continuing your workout routine without modifications after an injury can be dangerous and will only prolong your healing period.  

Try focusing on a different body part while you rehab. For example, if you strained your shoulder, focus on your legs for a while. Yoga and gentle stretching can also be a great way to get movement in without aggravating your injury. 

Not mixing up your routine

Variety is the spice of life—and it’ll help avoid plateaus in your fitness journey! From HIIT to cardio to yoga, all types of workouts come with their own benefits that you don’t want to miss out on. Not to mention your motivation could suffer if you don’t try something new once in a while. 

Forgetting about recovery

A tough workout is stressful for your body, and without adequate recovery time, the quality of your workouts will suffer and possibly lead to injury. Muscles are damaged during a workout, so allowing them time to rest and repair themselves is vital to growth and progress.

If you’re strength training, plan your routine to focus on a different muscle group each day. For example, make Mondays and Thursdays leg days, while Tuesdays and Fridays are dedicated to upper body training. Active recovery days spent hiking, swimming or doing yoga can be a valuable part of your overall wellness routine as well. 

Not hydrating

You know that drinking enough water is important for overall health, but did you know that dehydration can impact your workout? Your form and ability to lift heavy could suffer if you aren’t adequately hydrated before, during and after exercising.

Drinking plenty of water and fluids throughout the day is a good habit to get into to ensure you’re always ready for a workout. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and limiting caffeine and alcohol can also help you stay hydrated overall. Carry a water bottle with you to sip throughout your workout and rehydrate with a sports drink fortified with electrolytes after your workout.

Not having a plan

There’s nothing stopping you from doing a little of this one day and a little of that the next, but the lack of consistency isn’t going to help your progress. Not to mention you’ll be more likely to talk yourself out of going to the gym if you have no idea what to do when you get there. 

From a timeline for progressive overload training to a running program to improve your 5K time, a defined plan is your springboard to success. The plan can also help you pinpoint the right nutrition to fuel your workouts. Don’t forget to schedule time for recovery and rest days—they are just as important as intense workouts. 

Not asking for help 

If you’re ready to take your workout routine beyond the basics, you’re free to experiment and learn as you go. But if you aren’t sure where to start there’s no shame in asking for a little guidance. In fact, it can make a huge difference in your progress.  

From personal goals to lifestyle factors to your strengths and preferences, the right workout routine for you is unique. Enlisting a personal trainer can be a smart way to maximise your time and get results. Find out more about Personal Training at David Lloyd Clubs and how our experts can help you meet—and exceed—your goals.