To be clear: There are no hard-and-fast rules for how you spend time working out, but there are lessons you can adopt from people whose workout routines are a big part of their job. Generally speaking, an effective workout is simply one that helps you meet your goals in a way that is both sustainable and safe.
So without further ado, welcome to never would I ever—gym addition. Below, Chandler offers up the four things you won’t catch him doing at the gym.
4 fitness mistakes a trainer avoids in his own workouts
1. Skipping the warm-up
“It’s essential to any workout to warm up your full body,” Chandler says. Opting out of a warm-up and diving right into the day’s programming could put you at major risk for injury, which ultimately (*sigh*) will interrupt your workout routine in the future.
“A tight body is more prone to get injured if you try to move it too quickly or lift too heavily without your muscles being prepared,” Katie Merrick, Gold’s Gym Personal Trainer, NCSF, previously told Well+Good. “I like to compare it to a new balloon. It’s more difficult to immediately start inflating the balloon. If you stretch and move it well first, it will inflate much easier. Our bodies are very similar.”
If you’re not sure what you need to accomplish in your pre-workout prep, a general rule of thumb is that you want to activate the muscle groups you plan on using, elevate your body temperature, and mobilize your joints. For example, if you’re going on a run, try incorporating moves like squats, side lunges, high knees, and butt kicks into your warm up. Then, notice if your run feels a little more breezy.
Bookmark this dynamic warm-up for your next workout:
2. Exercising without a plan
“I always like to have a plan of action when starting a workout as it helps me create consistency with my goals,” says Chandler. If you’ve ever moved mountains to make it to the gym after work, and then immediately thought, “cool, what now?,” you know that having a game plan is a key component of truly enjoying your time training.
If you’re not sure how to create a fitness plan of your own, check out this handy guide for creating a weekly workout schedule.
3. Working out without the right fuel
“When it comes to pre-workout food, I typically recommend eating a small snack about an hour before exercise to improve energy, performance, and mental clarity while exercising,” Tamanna Singh, MD, a clinical cardiologist, previously told Well+Good. A combination of carbs and protein will treat you right before a workout, so try eating something like a piece of peanut butter toast or a chicken salad sandwich.
That said, if you’re an early morning exerciser, Chandler says you’ll need to do a little calendar Tetris to make sure you’re not under-fueled for your training session. This is especially true if you’re someone who’s practicing intermittent fasting. “I find working out later than 10 a.m. on an empty stomach leaves your energy stores depleted,” he says.
4. Overcomplicating workouts
If you’re on social media, you know that fitness moves are gaining complexity by the day. But as fancy as these moves may look on screen, diving into complex exercises when the basics are still challenging to you is dangerous, says Chandler.
“Overcomplicating your workouts with exercises you’ve never practiced before is simply an easy way to get injured,” he says. “Always work on new exercises with a coach or trainer, or very light weight and bands, to build form.” Remember: The most basic “big four” movements—squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts—can help you gain a whole lot of strength. Leave that fancy schmancy stuff for FitTok.