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10 Gym Mistakes You're Making

New to the gym? Or are you an experienced lifter creeping to see if you've been making some mistakes? Either way, here's some things to look out for in 2022!

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm online coach personal trainer

Trying To Run Before You Can Walk

Can you control a weight with appropriate tempo? Maintain correct form? Feel the correct muscles working? No? Then put down the barbell, you're not ready to deadlift.

If you're stepping foot in the gym for the first time and looking to gain muscle, a barbell isn't for you. The level of skill required for free weight exercises such as deadlifts and squats is astronomical. Learn to feel your quads working on a leg extension, learn to control a machine row. Then you can start working your way towards the deadlift platform.

Thinking Free Weights Are Better Than Machines

The truth is, fitness just isn't this black and white. Whether an exercise is going to be best performed with a set of dumbbells or with a machine is going to depend purely on the exercise itself, and also the individual performing that exercise. There's a lot of exercises that will be better performed on a machine, but there's also some exercises where it's not really going to make too much difference. Try not to be so black and white with things!

Testing Your 1 Rep Max

I've been there. Hunting down big arms, rowing for Dorito lats, and bench pressing to... test my 1 rep max? No, doesn't make any sense to me, either.

If you're serious about gaining muscle, testing your 1 rep max on an exercise isn't going to do much for your gains, and might even leave you out of action with an injury.

If a strength based sport is your thing, go for it! 1 Rep max testing is for you. If you're hunting for big arms however, save your energy for the rest of your workout.

Trusting The "Lat Pulldown"

This machine should be done for false advertising. Not only does having your hands wide stop your shoulder blades from moving as much as they should be able to (therefore limiting your range of motion), having your elbows so far from your sides actually puts your lats into a position of mechanical weakness, leaving your rear delts to do most of the work. If you're looking to actually train your lats with a pulldown, give this video a watch. This is one of the many exercise videos my clients have access to when they work with me.

Thinking More Is Better (Better Is Better)

You hear this one a lot. People struggling to get a body part to grow, so their automatic reaction is to train it more. However, if what you're already doing isn't working, why would more of that give you results? Have you looked into your exercise selection? Machine choices? Tempo? Form? If you're ticking all of these boxes and you're still not growing that lagging body part, more sets is going to have to be your option. However, as Dr Jordan Shallow from Pre-Script once said, "more is not better, better is better."

Thinking The Barbell Bench Press Is The Ultimate Chest Builder

I can think of a million chest exercises I'd rather use than a barbell bench press. Some machine chest presses, cable chest press, dumbbell bench press, should I go on? Am I saying avoid it at all costs? Not necessarily. Again, fitness simply isn't this black and white. I know people who are built well for bench press and, as long as they program it well, see great results. But, I also know people who (like me) find that the risk to reward ratio makes it more or less a no go. Find these things out for yourself, don't just follow Google or influencers blindly.

Switching Programs Too Often

The key to success in the gym is consistency. You get stronger at something the more you do it, so swapping it out every 4 weeks isn't going to lead to progression. I'd say a solid 90% of the exercises in my program have been there for minimum of a year now. Find what works and stick to it.

Not Respecting Your Own Range Of Motion

Much like exercises being classed as good or bad, range of motion is also a difficult topic to define, as there's no standard range for every single person. Your personal range of motion will be determined by anything from your structure to mobility. One persons full range of motion on a leg press might see them kissing their knees, another person might just be scraping 90 degrees of hip flexion. The key here is to make sure you're training your full range of motion, not Googles. How do you find this out? Well, unfortunately, it's not really something I can just sit here and type up, there's quite a lot that goes into it! My advice would be to get in touch with a PT or coach who can help you. Spending too much time in ranges you shouldn't be in will lead to serious trouble in the long run.

Not Hydrating

Between every single set I'm chugging on my water. I drink around 2 litres every session. Hydration is so, so important for performance and recovery. Please drink your water when training, it will make the world of difference!

Chugging A Shake As Soon You Leave The Gym

Picture this. You've just smashed your workout, meaning your body is in a state of sympathetic dominance (which is just a fancy way of saying fight or flight). This has not only left your heart and breathing rate elevated and your body covered in sweat, but it's also down regulated your gastrointestinal system, meaning your stomach can't break down foods as well, and your not producing as much saliva and stomach acid. Sound like a good time to chug a protein shake? Didn't think so.

Give your body 30-45 minutes to return to a parasympathetic state. You'll know when you're back here, as your heart and breathing rate will go back down again.

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