Injury Tips

The 15 Most Common Mistakes Personal Trainers See in the Gym

We turned to certified personal trainers and gym owners to find out about the most common mistakes they see every day. These fitness professionals highlighted several key issues—and it’s worth mentioning that hiring a personal trainer could help rectify many of them. Before your next trip to the gym, check out these 15 common mistakes to avoid injury and embarrassment.


“New exercisers tend to be overanxious and expect to start seeing results in an unreasonably short time,” said Robin Visanuvimol, owner and head coach of Beyond Boxing in Vancouver. This poses a few problems: they get burned out mentally, physically and give up on the regimen too soon. “What I normally tell people is that changes often take time. Small exercise and diet changes done over a relatively longer period of time (six to eight weeks) are much more important than extreme changes done all at once.”


“As crazy as it sounds, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is overtraining and not giving their bodies enough time to recover,” said Jessica Lopez, a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant at The Boxing Club in San Diego. “Once you've gained momentum and start seeing results, it's easy to fall into the trap of ‘more is always better.’ Unfortunately, that's not the case when it comes to your body and you could be inhibiting your body from making changes…If you notice signs of water retention, lack of sleep or injuries it may be due to [overtraining]. When you’re working out, you’re tearing your body down, so you need to give it enough time to heal. Listen to your body and take rest days as needed.”


“Let me say that cardio is an extremely important component of our exercise routines. It burns calories, boosts our mood and strengthens our most important muscle: the heart. But too many people spend the majority of their workout time performing relatively low-level cardiovascular exercise,” said Tom Holland, a world-renowned exercise physiologist and author of several books on fitness. “This results in just a few hundred calories burned at the end of their workout. Instead, I recommend doing a mix of cardio and weights. Strength training builds valuable lean muscle which leads to a higher resting metabolic rate, meaning more calories burned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”


“When members walk through our doors the first thing I ask (after saying hello) is what's your plan. Typically their response is ‘I don't know, I'll figure it out as I go’,” said Ainslie MacEachran, a certified personal trainer and professional cycling coach based in Fort Collins, Colo. “Most people don't have a plan, [but] every workout should have a plan. Your workouts will be more effective and time efficient if you have a purpose when you come in.”


“At most, I might see a personal training client four or five hours in a week—and how many hours are there in the week? 168. I've got you here for only a fraction of the available hours. If you don't do your part in the kitchen it’s going to be slow going at best,” MacEachran said. “You can't outrun the nutrition piece. So, pull it together in the kitchen/lifestyle department and you'll get better and more rapid results.”


Blindly following what other people are doing is a mistake that several trainers pointed out. “You have no idea if the person you are watching is doing the exercise correctly,” said Eric M. Emig, a certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in exercise scienc. “Furthermore, there may be a reason they are doing a particular exercise. It might not be a good one for you.”


“Numerous guys are guilty of this one—they always sacrifice form and the effectiveness of the exercise to lift more weight,” Emig said. “I'm much more impressed by someone who lifts with perfect technique. Lifting too much weight [with poor technique] will eventually lead to injuries.”


“I can't express enough how important it is to warm up before a workout,” said Lee Pickering, a certified personal trainer with DW Fitness Clubs. “This prepares your muscles for the impending workout and prevents injury. It relaxes your joints and increases your heart rate to ensure your body is ready to challenge itself."


“Many people simply lift too fast, not allowing for both the concentric and eccentric contractions [and instead] relying on momentum,” said Tracee Gluhaich, an integrative health coach, personal trainer and blogger. “When you do a bicep curl, for instance, the concentric phase is when you bend the elbow, but the eccentric phase is when you lower the weight. This should be done slowly for increased muscular strength. The momentum piece is [when] people go so fast, the weights are swinging, their body is rocking and they are using the momentum created to lift heavier. If they slow down, they will work the muscles more effectively.”


Many gym-goers are guilty of skipping out on their full range of motion, doing just partial reps instead and missing out on strength benefits. Gluhaich says the bicep curl is one example where people might not be getting the most out of the exercise. “they don’t lower the weight to the bottom, [but instead] maintain a bend in the elbow. This makes it easier to curl because they are already partially to the contraction.”


“When you step on that gym floor, have a purpose, a plan and energy to execute the workout—it’s as important as just showing up,” said Ramona Braganza, a celebrity fitness trainer with clients like Halle Berry and Jessica Alba. “Goal setting, training appropriately, documenting your progress with a program, and fueling and hydrating properly before and during a workout will get you results.”


“If you find you can talk easily, don’t break a sweat or can stay on that treadmill, eliptical [or other machine] for over an hour watching tv or reading a magazine, then you are not training hard enough,” Braganza said. “[It’s] better to workout shorter but with more intensity.”


“Too many people focus solely on calories burned or that immediate payoff of feeling like they ‘got their butt kicked’. Chasing soreness or being tired for the sake or getting sore or tired is a mistake,” said Ryan Munsey, the owner of House Of Strength Gym and host of Optimal Performance podcast. “The focus should be on getting better, being able to do more (more weight, more reps, more work in the same or less time) from week-to-week and month-to-month. This is how you ensure long-term progress and avoid plateaus.”


“The biggest mistake I see is that people have no variety in their training—they repeat the same program day-to-day or week-to-week,” said Tom Postema, a certified strength and conditioning specialist) at Postema Performance. “Then their progress stalls and they wonder why they can't make the same gains as when they first started their program. If you don't have enough variety, improvements will stall.”


“Forward head, rounded shoulders, arched low back—[These are] very common postural deviations that can lead to injury and/or ineffective exercise,” said Cindy Hauss, a certified personal trainer. “If you cannot maintain good posture when doing an exercise you need to hire a trainer to help you with form, lighten the load or decrease your reps.”

Picture Credit: Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia

Article Credit:
Author: Diana Gerstacker from The Active Times
The 15 Most Common Mistakes Personal Trainers See in the Gym
Fitness mistakes you'll want to avoid while training in the gym.

4 Simple Ways to Flatten Your Stomach

Doesn't this guy look happy while performing a full situp? He won't be the next day when he feels pain in his lower back. Little does he know that every situp results in sheer force on the spine. Considering the amount of sitting he (and probably you) do each day, he is placing unnecessary stress on inflamed lower back muscles and disks.

Can you blame him for doing this exercise? Up to this point, you've probably have also been trained to embrace the mighty situp as the best way to develop your abdominal core. We now know that it takes a multifaceted approach to see the weight loss or flat stomach you desire. Here is the perfect approach to achieving what you want while protecting your lower back. If you're still experiencing back discomfort or pain, you will need to read my article End Your Lower Back Pain Today before performing the exercises suggested below.

Look at Your Diet

I've had personal training clients run marathons before changing their diet. Why are you willing to race around the world before giving up the food you love? Most likely, eating and drinking is a big part of your daily culture, and it's difficult to change this routine and mindset.

While I'll never advocate to live or eat perfectly, you should understand your body's sensitivity to different foods. You may not realize that a simple removal or substitution of a food item can minimize the bloatedness you notice around your waistline.

Most important, if you're not eating within the natural boundaries of your body type, you are storing extra calories and more in your belly. Read this carefully: You CAN achieve a flat stomach by simply changing your eating habits and living a basic, active lifestyle (think: walking most of the day and performing most activities on your fee). You don't need a personal trainer in Chicago (I would still love to see you though!) or run marathons! Whether or not you're trying to lose weight, the basic formula is the same. The only difference is the number of calories. Read my weight loss article for specific suggestions.

Correct Your Posture

We want to activate our abdominal core any chance we get. With this in mind, focus on maintaining proper posture throughout the day. Just this simple resistance against gravity will help build the foundational strength of your core while looking confident and pain-free. Tip: Keep your shoulders and hips squared with your feet hip width. Maintain a neutral spine by standing tall, keeping your shoulders back, and chest up.

Perform Basic Leg Movements, Holds, and Planks

To achieve a flat stomach, you need a stable core...and it involves more than strengthening your abs. Your core is a complicated system of obliques, transverse abs, rectus abs, glutes, lower back muscles, hips, and more. There's no better way to activate and strengthen this system than by performing glute bridges, lunges, squats, holds, and planks. Each of these leg movements and positions are essential for daily living and necessary for long-term physical health. Perform 3 sets of 20 reps (or 30 second hold) for each exercise. Watch these videos to learn the proper form:

-Glute Bridge/Hip Thrusts
-Bird Dogs
-Forward Lunge (Use a light barbell or stick)

Perform Crunches and Choppers

If you don't have any lower back inflammation or pain, you may be ready for crunches and choppers (rotational movements with weights or resistance). While situps my compromise the lower back, you can still perform another effective exercise for your transverse abs: the crunch. As long as you maintain a neutral spine and keep your chin up, you will protect your neck and spine.

Similar to the crunch, it is important that you maintain a neutral spine during a rotational exercise. The obliques play an integral part in this movement but can be easily strained or overused. Most personal training clients tend to use their arms instead of their hips during these movements. As a result, they don't fully integrate their abdominal core, and their lower back suffers. Throughout the complete exercise, maintain a neutral spine to avoid this discomfort.

Watch these videos to learn the perfect form for both exercises and then perform 3 sets of 20 reps for each:


DISCLAIMER: Michael Moody Fitness is not responsible or liable for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, personal training services or products that you obtain through this site. You are encouraged to consult with your doctor concerning this information contained on or through this website.


Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
4 Simple Ways to Flatten Your Stomach
Weight loss and easy ways to flatten your abs with back pain.

10 Reasons You Should Never, Ever Wear Flip-Flops

It's summer! What are you going to wear on your feet? Hopefully not flip-flops. Check out this recent article from Cosmopolitan magazine before your next personal training session and find out the blistering effects of your favorite pair of sandals.


As the weather warms up, it's hard to resist the urge to break out the truest sign of summer: flip-flops. But most experts are horrified by the idea. Here's why you should reserve your flip-flops for the beach, pool, spa, and shared showers — and keep your feet out of them, otherwise, according to Dr. Jackie Sutera, DPM, a podiatrist and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association.

1. They expose your feet to bacteria, viral, and fungal infections.

Any time your feet get particularly filthy (i.e., any time you wear your flip-flops in public), they're likely covered in some nasty things likes Staphylococcus, a bacteria that can irritate the skin on your foot in the best case or lead to amputation in the worst-case scenarios. (It depends on whether you have open wounds, like microwounds from exfoliation during a recent pedicure, or actual cuts, and your state of health when you pick up the bacteria.) Athlete's foot, an itchy fungal infection that's highly contagious, is spread by contact with something that's contaminated. When you wander around nearly barefoot, you're screwed if this fungus crosses your path. And the same goes for the virus that causes warts, human papillomavirus (HPV).

2. They slow you down.

An Auburn University study found that flip-flop wearers take smaller steps than people who wear sneakers.

3. They make you extra clumsy.

Those short strides you take when you wear flip-flops? They increase your risk of tripping (or being trampled in a crowd).

4. They destroy your heels.

Because your heels hit the ground with more force when there's nothing but a measly piece of foam separating your foot from the ground, walking in flip-flops accentuates the heel-strike impact, which could end up causing pain — especially if you stand or walk in them for extended periods of time.

5. They can cause terrible blisters.

When a thin strap is the only thing that holds your shoe on, that strap rubs up against your skin every time you take a step. This can cause irritation and blisters. When blisters pop, you're left with an open wound that makes you more vulnerable to the pathogens you pick up anytime your foot is exposed.

6. They can permanently damage your toes.

Ever hear of hammertoe? It's when the knuckles of your toes bend. When you wear flip-flops, your toes need to work extra hard to keep the shoe on your foot, which can cause hammertoe over time. If you want to avoid stiffness, pain, and potentially, surgery, you'll stick with strappier sandals (ideally, a pair with a thick strap at the midfoot, and one that goes behind your ankle). Think Birkenstocks and Tevas, which — just your luck! — happen to be trendier than flip-flops. Most important, it will affect your performance during your session with a personal trainer.

7. They mess with your posture.

Any super-flat shoe that doesn't bend like your foot does when you walk barefoot alters your biomechanics and affects posture.

8. They can cause shooting pains.

People with flat feet need arch support to keep their knees, hips, and back aligned. In a flat shoe, there's none of that, so your joints have to compensate. This can cause overuse injuries all the way up the body, including Achilles tendonitis (injury to the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone), heel pain, and pinched nerves in the back. Not surprising, most personal training clients come in with one injury or another. Does your injury stem from flip-flops?

9. They can exacerbate bunions.

Because your toes have to work so hard to keep flip-flops on your feet, over-gripping can aggravate people with unsightly and painful bunions, a bump at the big toe joint. Not good.

10. They could be made of toxic materials.

Plastic straps may be made of latex, which many people are allergic to, or plastic that contains BPA, a toxin linked to various cancers. Do you really want your toes to get all up in that? Opt for sandals with fabric or leather straps, because natural materials tend to be safer.Still feel like such a flip-flop day? (Didn't think so.)

Article Credit:
Author: Elizabeth Narins (Cosmopolitan)
10 Reasons You Should Never, Ever Wear Flip-Flops
Fitness and injury tips to help your personal training in Chicago.