For many fitness fans, smartphones are an essential item to not only take to the gym but to use during a workout, whether it be to track progress or for workout inspiration. This sneaky little saboteur, however, might just be the number one culprit for your spoiling your gym sesh.

Fitness expert Bree-Anna Burick from BarBend reveals the four ways your phone is ruining your gym session.

  1. Impaired balance and stability


Running on the treadmill or performing Olympic lifts require a fair amount of balance and stability. Without it, you can risk a failed lift or an embarrassing tumble off the treadmill.

Excessively using your smartphone can slow down your overall reaction time. If you’re spending your rest time on your phone, you might be less coordinated when you go for a heavy clean and jerk. In that case, keeping your mobile close may be doing more harm than good.


This is especially the case if you’re texting while exercising. If you find yourself texting or talking on the phone while exercising, studies suggest that your posture may become more unstable, which can worsen your balance and stability by up to 45%. Whether you’re walking on the treadmill or strolling outside, you increase your risk of falling while talking or texting on your phone.

  1. Lower intensity workouts 


There’s nothing wrong with a low-intensity workout, but if all of your training sessions are starting to feel a bit easy, there may be a problem.

Texting your friend about the latest friend-group gossip can make it tough to maintain your focus through an intense workout. Yes, you want to take some rest even during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — but taking too long can downgrade your HIIT workout into a regular session.

Using your smartphone during your workout can increase the time spent at a low intensity, whereas conversely, not using your smartphone can increase the time you spend at a high intensity. This is especially important to keep in mind if your time in the gym is limited. One of the advantages of HIIT is that it’s supposed to let you do more work in less time. But if more of that time is spent on your phone than on the gym floor, it can halt your progress.

  1. Reduced cardiorespiratory fitness


If you’re a lifter, you may struggle to program adequate conditioning work into your strength training. To keep the intensity of their cardio work low but effective, strength athletes may choose to maintain cardiovascular health through taking walks. If you can relate, smartphones might stand in the way of an otherwise clued-up strategy.

Frequent phone users are more likely to choose sedentary activities related to their phone — scrolling through social media, perhaps — rather than performing physical activity, which can negatively affect cardiorespiratory fitness. Seemingly related: excessive cell phone use has been linked to higher blood pressure. So, shutting off your phone might be helpful for locking in your cardio health.

  1. Impacted movement


Even if your smartphone isn’t directly in your hand, you may be hearing the ping of a text message or seeing a notification light up your screen. Therefore, your screen lighting up can be just as distracting as actually checking your phone.

These seemingly harmless interruptions might actually reduce your movement and range of motion in your elbow and shoulder flexion and extension. This can lead to a less efficient workout overall, which isn’t optimal for maximizing your gains.

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