Gym Mistakes: 11 Ways To Botch a Workout

A complicated weight machine with weights and pulleys arranged in a precarious tangle or a high-tech cardio machine with a vast keyboard of lights and buttons can be intimidating to someone who simply wants to get their heart rate up for an hour or so.

"People don't know what they're doing and they've never been shown properly," Carey said. "Then they attempt it, being uncertain what they're doing."

But this dilemma can cause a variety of problems, particularly when misusing equipment leads to poor form during exercise. Beyond decreasing the efficacy of an exercise, poor form can lead to a serious injury, which will not contribute to a successful exercise program.

Certainly, some people might be embarrassed to get a public demo on an unfamiliar machine in front of a room full of people who look like they grew up on a Bowflex instead of a jungle gym. Still, Carey recommended asking a staff member to demonstrate how to use an unfamiliar piece of equipment.

"Get over the fact that you're nervous to use something and try something new," Carey said.

Watching Yourself in the Mirror

A dedicated gym-goer might be trying to achieve the physique of a Greek god, but many may be acting out a famous Grecian myth already.

The legend of Narcissus tells the story of a young man who was so beautiful that he fell in love with his own reflection and wasted away while gazing at himself in the waters of a stream.

While no one is going to waste away at the gym, those walls of mirrors may let some get lost in their own reflections.

"Lots of people are involved with themselves in front of mirrors," Care said.

But watching yourself is not always a bad thing. A mirror can be an excellent tool to make sure you are maintaining proper form while exercising. But focusing on an image to the exclusion of other things can be dangerous in a crowded gym.

"People that are so dazed with what's going on in the mirror ... they're not aware of what's going on around them," Carey said.

'Free Pass' on Food

Old habits die hard, and letting go of a favorite junk food can be difficult. The solution for some is to eat those foods in such a way that they will get burned up as soon as they are eaten, such as immediately after a hard workout, when the body continues to burn calories for about 30 minutes. That should work, right?

Wrong, according to Carey.

"It's a small window people think they have and they'll cram a Snickers or some pasta," Carey said, adding that nothing overrides the balance between calories in and calories out.

"I think that's silly," Carey said. "Why bother to do it at all when it's not going to do enough for you?"

Indeed, most people do not burn as many calories as they think they are, Callahan said. Eating correctly for exercise is a trial-and-error process that is different for everyone.

The average gym-goer should aim to eat light carbohydrates -- fruit or bread -- about two hours prior to working out in order to have sufficient energy and avoid feeling faint.

Eating soon before exercise can cause sluggishness, nausea and cramps. And a full stomach won't feel good during a jog or while holding a cramped, twisted yoga pose.

But it is important to eat within an hour after exercising. According to the Mayo Clinic, a small meal containing both proteins and carbohydrates can help muscles recover from strain and helps replace lost sugar stores for energy.

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