For a lot of people, getting to the gym is the hardest step—but getting the most out of your workout can be just as difficult. Personal trainer Andrea Metcalf knows it all too well. Don't let one of these gym mistakes waste your hard work.
1. Reading on the Treadmill
I understand we all have limited time, but unless you are planning on walking for more than an hour, put down the book and get focused. Try for alternating intervals of slow and fast—or inclines and flats—to fight the boredom factor. Pushing yourself will pay off: Just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise can equal up to 30 minutes of slow walking.

2. Stretching Before Your Workout
Your body may feel like a stretch before you step out the door for a jog, but the most important time to stretch is actually after your workout. If you must stretch before you exercise, use moving stretches or dynamic movements that mimic the activity you are about to engage in. For walking, try ankle rocks or leg swings across the body for running.

3. Forgetting to Stretch After Your Workout
Many people finish their workout with a set of crunches and then head right to the locker room. But after using your muscles and tightening them up, it's best to release the tension and return them to a relaxed state of tension. Simply stretching the main muscle groups (hip flexors, outer thighs, chest, shoulders and ankles) not only increases blood flow and circulation to reduce muscle soreness, but it also helps attain better posture and alignment.

Try Andrea's basic Live-ilates stretches.

4. Drinking Cold Water During Your Workout
We all know it's important to hydrate before, during and after our workouts—but you may not know that room-temperature water better hydrates the body than cold water. Humans have to use energy to warm the water to absorb it, so although the cold may feel quenching, it will take longer to be utilized. You can try adding a pinch of salt to your water bottle to help balance any electrolytes you may have lost during a sweaty workout.


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