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Thursday, June 21, 2012
By Karen Kwan
You get your workouts in at least three to five times a week (and make sure to get some light activity in everyday no matter what). That’s great…but are your workouts as efficient as they could be? Or are you doing anything that’s robbing you of the full benefits you could be gaining from your exercise regimen? We spoke to Gidon Gabbay, personal trainer and founder of G Force Training in Toronto about three ways you might be cheating yourself out of a good workout without even realizing it.
Not making rest part of your exercise regimen
When you don’t rest enough between workouts, you can deplete muscle instead of fat, and this can slow down your metabolism, says Gabbay. “Often because we want to acheive our goal so fast, we do too much,” he says, “and with this excess mentality, it can be hard to get the nutrition you need for your body and you’re not giving your body time to evolve and progress.” When you put too much demand on your body, you overtrain and can cause injury and develop scar tissue. He recommends not doing the same type of exercise over and over. “If you run one day, do yoga or strength training the next so you’re allowing one part of your body to recover while exercising another,” he says.
We can get caught up in trying to achieve a difficult pose, complete more reps in a certain time period, or increasing the weight we can lift. So much so that we sacrifice good form. Gabbay says he sees lots of the people in the gym guilty of this ego training (as he refers to it), just aiming for the personal gratification of lifting a heavier weight than last time, for example. “They swing up the weight, just so the motion is completed, but they’ve used all the wrong muscles, have used momentum instead of isolating muscles to complete the movement — and then you’re not getting the same effect as you’re not recruiting the right muscles for the movement. You’re not getting stronger,” he says. And all of this, besides resulting in lack of efficiency, can cause injury.
Only using strength-training machines
“I’m personally a much bigger fan of free weights, or using the body or the ground for resistance,” says Gabbay. “Machines kind of help you, but they don’t.” You want to be strong for life, after all, not just your workout, he says, and so if you’re strong with a piece of machinery but then it’s hard to get in your car because your back is sore from your workout on the machine — machines that don’t demand stability as they take you through the movement — it doesn’t help you. “On the other hand, you pick up a free weight and all of a sudden your shaking because the joints that stablize all of the little muscles are now being worked.”