Getting yourself to the gym may be the hardest part of any fitness plan, but what’s the point if you’re making huge mistakes while you’re there?
Working around a weight room, I see a lot of misguided attempts at exercise. For some reason, guys think that if they throw on a lot of weight and half-ass it around the room for an hour they’re going to get bigger and more cut.
The same guys that do that usually end up either seriously discouraged or, even worse, injured.
Here are 5 things that a lot of guys just can’t seem to get right in the gym.
1. Using too much weight.
I’ll admit, this may seem obvious, but it’s #1 for a reason. Stacking on more weight than you can handle is just a bad idea for any exercise. Using too much weight can lead to injured muscles and joints, as well as more serious injuries (like dropping a bar on your neck) if you’re not careful.
If you’re a beginner in the gym, start low and work your way up. If you’re a seasoned vet, then you should know better. Stay within yourself so that you can live to lift another day.
2. Not moving through a full range of motion.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what constitutes a full range of motion. Let me clear it up with an example: while doing bench press, full range of motion is from when you’re elbows are fully extended (but not locked) to touching your chest.
It’s important to go through your full ROM so your muscles get a complete workout. Otherwise, you’re just cheating yourself (and fooling yourself into thinking you can lift more than you’re really able to).
3. Improperly doing an exercise.
Some more advanced exercises (especially Olympic style lifts) can be difficult to execute and require supervision, preferably from a trainer. I’m not talking about those, however, I’m referring to the most basic of exercises.
For example, one of the most common mistakes I see is when a guy is doing triceps pushdowns hunched over. When you improperly do an exercise, you start working the wrong muscles (in this example, you’re starting to use your shoulders and to a lesser degree your chest) which only hurts you in the end.
4. Not doing legs. Ever.
It cracks me up when I see guys come into my gym with well-built upper bodies and toothpicks for legs. Not only does it look funny (it really, really does look funny) but it’s also keeping guys like this from reaching their full potential.
Your legs are home to the largest muscles in your body, as such they produce the most testosterone and have the ability to spike your metabolism, but that’s only if you work them out. They might not be the glamour muscles, but by working them out you can be one step closer to having a beach body that won’t get you laughed back to the boardwalk.
At the very least, doing some legwork will keep you from breaking your dainty little ankles in the sand.
5. Doing 1,000 crunches.
We all want to look good with our shirts off (well, most of us) so we bust our asses doing ab work in the gym to try to get a shredded 6-pack. Unfortunately, by only doing crunches you’re seriously limiting yourself to what you can achieve.
Next time you’re in the gym, instead of crunches, try doing some planks and side planks to switch it up. You’ll be amazed at how difficult they can be since it’s using a different part of your abs than crunches work. Another note about crunches is that doing too much abwork and neglecting your lower back can lead to back pain and a muscular imbalance (which means you’ll be walking around hunched over and that’s never a good look).
The next time you’re in the gym, try to keep these things in mind. It will add a lot of value to your workout time and you’ll probably notice you’re a little more sore (in a good way) the next day or two than usual. One last word of caution, if you’re going to do legs for the first time, make sure your calendar is open for the next few days because if you’re doing it right you’ll have a hard time getting up and down stairs. Sounds fun, right?