The gym can be an interesting place, as a seasoned gym goer, I’ve seen it all. In today’s blog I want to shed some light on the “what not to do’s” as far as the gym is concerned. We’ve all been a beginner at one stage in our journey and with this guidance, it is my hope that you will be able to take your training to a new level and obtain the results you seek.
1. Incorrect Form
This is hands down the most common mistake that I see in the gym. Unfortunately, more often than not, people execute their exercises incorrectly, with bad technique that causes strain on the body, leading to an increased risk of injury. Another issue, if injury isn’t bad enough, is that poor form is inefficient. When we perform lifts incorrectly, we can recruit the wrong muscle groups or we can recruit less muscle groups than we should be. This inefficiency elicits a poor muscular response meaning less growth and strength.
Whether you are just starting out or you’re wanting to work on your form, it can be helpful to get a personal trainer for a few sessions to focus on your technique and assess any tweaks that can be made. If this isn’t in your price range, it may be useful to watch YouTube tutorials and cues on how to execute lifting movements. This is something I encourage everyone to do. Never stop learning.
2. No Warm Up
A proper warm up is essential for optimising gym performance and safety especially now that humans are mostly sedentary throughout their day. Without much movement over the course of our day, our muscles and mind to muscle connection can “go to sleep” if you will, thus, it is important to “wake” the muscles up and reconnect to the body before jumping in to your max squat.
Before training, it is imperative that we mobilise the tight areas of the body, activate the muscles we plan to work, increase our core temp and warn our CNS that we are about to work. Walking at a snails pace on the treadmill for 5 minutes before you train legs isn’t enough, just like your session, your warm up should be structured to achieve the points above.
3. No Training Structure
Did you know that those who have a plan are up to 80% more likely to execute than those who don’t? It’s common to see people at the gym who show and just randomly hop from one machine to another, picking arbitrary sequences of exercises with no clear reason. Don’t be this person. Have a plan before you go and execute it!
Exercise selection is more important than you may think, and the order in which you do them is also significant in training for both safety and progress. Exercises are tools that can help us achieve a goal, so it’s important we choose the right tool for the job.
4. No Intensity
Get comfortable being uncomfortable; work for the results you seek.
The purpose of strength training is to lift weights that prove challenging in order to create stress on the body. The body adapts to this stress over time and the result is increased strength, bigger or more toned muscles, improved endurance, efficiency and so on.
If you’re heart rate isn’t increased, you’re not gassed, sweating, or uncomfortable in any way, then it’s unlikely you’re going to get any significant results. I always tell clients to ask themselves “am I working to my full potential right now”, if the answer is no, then what are you doing? Push harder! You don’t have to kill yourself in the gym, but like anything in life, hard work is required if you want to become successful.
We’ve all been there at some point, training gets thrown in to the “too hard” basket and chucked on the back burner. At the end of the day, it is important to understand that motivation is fleeting. In order to form lasting training habits, we cannot always rely on motivation. Instead, we need to rely on discipline. Prioritise training like an important meeting with yourself; schedule it in and stick to it until it becomes a habit. There will always be excuses; life always has the potential to get in the way with work, family, children, travel and so on, however, at the end of the day, if you really want something you’ll push past those excuses and find a way to get it done.
Your “why” for training, the reason you’re in the gym, that needs to be stronger than any excuse the mind can come up with. How bad do you really want it?
If training feels like a chore to you, reassess your training methods. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing you won’t execute it with proper intensity or passion and those excuses we just spoke about will come fast and often, leading to poor results. The best program is the one you are likely to adhere to and we are more likely to adhere to a process that we actually enjoy. If bodybuilding isn’t your style, try functional training, boxing, swimming, hiking or crossfit and see what brings you joy. Remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to exercising, move your body in a way that brings you happiness.
To conclude, the gym should always be a safe space; leave your ego at the door. Complete your exercises safely, with proper form and increasing intensity. Always have a plan and focus on training in a way that you enjoy!