Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 Common Mistakes in the Gym

My last post "Gym Observations" was more of a comedic look at some of the crazy/absurd stuff I see in the gym on a daily basis.  Today I'm going to discuss some common mistakes that I see a lot of "newbie" gym goers make, and there's more than a few veteran trainees that need some fine tuning with their training routine.

1.  Too much isolation work.  Guys, I know you want to host a gun show of your own- but doing biceps for an hour is really not productive time spent in the gym.  Everybody loves a "pump" but you don't need to do 5 sets of preacher curls, 5 sets of concentration curls, followed by 5 sets of hammer curls supersetted with cable curls.  Performing weighted chin ups, some heavy dumbbell or barbell rows and a few sets of straight bar curls will be sufficient volume for bicep growth.  If you can't do a "proper" chin up without weight, focus on the basics before worrying about the curls.

Ladies, of course you want sexy legs.  But honestly, the Leg Extension and the Adductor / Abductor machine won't get you closer to Jamie Eason status (aka, making guys say "WOW").  Focus on squats (to proper depth), Reverse Lunges (because I know you do forward lunges), deadlifts, and Hip Thrusts (because the Glute Master says so).
A pic of Jamie Eason, PG rated....

2.  Too much rest between sets/Too little rest between sets.  If your goal is to get leaner, 3-5 minutes rest between sets/exercises is a little to much down time if you want to melt off that unwanted body fat.  Checking your cell phone, logging on to facebook, and discussing your WHOLE life story with your training partner really are not going to lead to a productive training session.  For those people reading the newspaper between sets, please do so off the equipment- some people are in the gym for a purpose.

Compound setting exercises can save you valuable gym time and produce more of a "calorie burning effect".  Perform a set of reverse lunges 8 reps each leg and then perform a set of seated rows-12 reps, rest 30 seconds and repeat 4 times.  After that, perform a set of RDL's (straight leg deadlifts) for 8 reps and then a set of push-ups (a few away from failure), rest 30 seconds repeat 3 times.  Basic compound exercises + back to back movements + a little bit of rest = road to leanness.

If your goal is to gain weight and get stronger, REST!  Running around the gym like a manic won't help you recover enough to perform adequate volume during a training session. After each set make sure you are recovered and mentally ready to move some heavy weight.  2-3 minutes should be sufficient.  Too little rest between sets can be detrimental to productive strength/size gains.

3.  Not getting physically / mentally ready for an exercise.  I see this with my clients all the time.  They get under a bar and attempt to start lifting before getting properly set up for the movement.  I have to yell "stop/rack it" and go over foot position for exercises like a squat or proper starting position for the bench press.  One of my clients mentioned to me that he's been lifting for 30 years and never thought about getting "set up" for the bench press, needless to say - now he's making some serious strength gains.

Before you actually start performing a movement, take a moment to focus on your body position and alignment.  You should also visualize the movement and mentally prepare yourself to lift with some "intensity", don't yawn then attempt a heavy set of squats!  Get focused, Get intense, and Move Some Weight!

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