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5 Habits Holding You Back in the Gym

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Getting yourself to the gym is a great start, but what you do while you're there can help (or hurt) your progress. Avoid these unhealthy gym habits and use the tips below to make the most of your time in the gym and reach your goals faster.

1. Using weights that are too heavy.

Your speed of movement will be compromised, potentially decreasing your power output, says Craig Friedman, vice president of the Performance Innovation team at EXOS. “Resistances that are too high also drive poor movement patterns and compensations, leaving you more open to injury,” he says. Read "Q&A: How Much Weight Should I Lift?" to lift safely and efficiently.

2. Not fueling your body properly.

A lack of fuel will reduce your ability to perform at high intensities, compromising your training gains. What’s more, poor post-workout fueling will also inhibit your body’s recovery. Read "The Science of Workout Nutrition" for more.

3. Having an unreliable workout partner.

“Accountability is key to helping you stay on track and a workout partner that doesn’t show up is just another reason for you to not show up,” says Friedman. To stay on track, enlist a workout buddy. Even better, choose one that's more fit than you are. Research shows that choosing a fitter workout buddy can help you burn more calories.

4. Wasting time with slow transitions.

There should be no down time at all in a gym. If you need a rest station as part of a circuit or between sets, spend it doing soft tissue work, stretching, or working on stability, adds Friedman. “Increasing the density of the session will reduce the amount of time you're spending training, allowing you to spend extra time recovering or working on limiting factors.”

5. Performing too few (or too many) reps.

Each training cycle and session needs a clear plan. Knowing what qualities you're trying to develop will drive your volume and intensity selections. Over time, performing too many reps can leave you with a limitation of max strength and power. And too few reps can leave you with a poor work capacity. For more, read "What's So Magical About Doing 10 Reps?"