Want to avoid the biggest gym pitfalls I see? You were able to hit the sack nice and early and managed a solid eight hours of sleep, allowing you to awaken rested, refreshed, and energetic. You planned out and executed every meal perfectly, eating each right on time, confident that you have consumed optimal amounts of complete protein, high-quality carbs, and healthy fats.
As you walk through the gym doors you can sense that your pre-workout supplement is kicking in, as a powerful feeling of focus, strength, and “singleness of purpose” overtakes your mind and body. You put your gym bag in the locker and are now more than ready to wage an all-out war on the weights! Will THIS be the best workout of your life? Well, that depends…will you manage to avoid these pitfalls while training?
This one irks me almost more than any other “pitfall” I will mention. Is it so hard to do without Facebook and Twitter for 1-2 hours of your day? Can you stop talking/texting with your bros long enough to focus on your workout? Is it possible to wait until after your final rep to flirt with the girls you met over the weekend? Listen, unless your wife is pregnant and in her 9th month or you are waiting on a possible 6-figure job offer at any moment, then leave your cell in your gym bag or locker if you are serious at all about making gains in the gym.
Of course, it is fun to see your friends in the gym – and it would be downright rude not to shake their hand and say “how’s it going” when you pass them by. But that does not mean you should interrupt your workout to have a 20-minute conversation about last night’s basketball game or to argue the merits of whey vs. casein protein! Crush the weights first, and then when you are done, feel free to chat it up with your buddies or the hot gal working behind the desk.
It is always smart to plan your workout ahead and to base it upon your current physique strengths and weaknesses. However, when you find that a machine or bench that you need is taken and that the person (or persons) using it will be there for a while, you have two choices: 1) Ask if you can work in, or 2) Find an alternate exercise to do in its place. Do NOT stand there and wait for ten minutes until the piece of equipment is free, as you will cool down, lose your pump and most likely destroy your focus and drive.
I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed someone getting caught helpless under a bench press, squat, or leg press, with the result almost always being minor to severe injury. While it is certainly not a necessity to have a “spot” on most exercises (as far as safety is concerned), please do not take foolish chances with potentially dangerous movements like BB bench presses, squats, and angled/vertical leg presses. If you train alone, ask another gym member to watch you, especially during your heavy sets.
There are few things as important to manifesting physical progress as remaining intensely focused while you train. The mind/muscle connection is a scientifically and practically proven phenomenon, so keep your head in the game throughout the entire workout. Even between sets, think about the muscle you are working on if you are dead serious about building a great body.
You just KNEW I had to mention this in an article such as this! Stop swinging, swaying, and jerking, and keep your exercise form tight and strict (at least until you reach failure). Keeping the tension on the muscle is more important than the amount of weight that goes from point A to B. Stretch, squeeze and make the target muscle do all the work.
There is no reason to be in the gym longer than 75 to 90 minutes, even for the most hardcore bodybuilder/athlete. If you train with 100% intensity and take reasonable rest between sets and exercises you do not need to spend your entire day lifting weights. For most of us, a serious decline in testosterone will take place, along with a complimentary rise in cortisol, if we train for more than 90 minutes or so, which will only hinder progress. Get in there; kill it, then get out and eat/rest/recover.
There is no need for protein bars or even protein powder while doing your actual workout. Anything that your body needs to digest and break down will cause valuable blood to be carried to the stomach instead of the muscles, which is not what you want. In addition, eating while training can cause stomach upset and bloating. Consume important individual amino acids, such as BCAA’s, while training, but not whole foods or proteins.