I recently observed a woman about my age at the gym recently who has been doing the same “routine” every time I’ve seen her. She always seems to manage to get the bench next to me in the weight room. And she always seems to be doing similar exercises at the same time I’m doing them. But that’s where the similarities stop.
I would say this woman is probably following a Tracey Anderson-type of workout, perhaps from that blonde idiot (sorry, not sorry) herself or maybe out of a magazine. Who knows, all I know is this woman looks like she needs help. Why? She lifts nothing higher than 10lb dumbbells. When she goes to the machines, she tends to do almost all of them and puts the pin in the top (lightest) weight. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to her routine. The amount of reps is more than 20 because I literally lose count any time I attempt to count how many reps she’s doing.
I vowed to myself that if I see her one more time, which would be the third, I would go over and attempt to help her. Because maybe she just doesn’t know….
Here are 5 things that I think people do wrong at the gym. And if you think you’re doing some of these, maybe this will help you because maybe you just don’t know either!
- You go in without a plan. I’m talking no plan whatsoever – no sheet of paper, no notes on your phone, no workout journal, nothing. WHY? You travel from machine to machine. Going through the motions, staring off into space, probably making your grocery list in your head because you don’t have a plan when you go there either. You’re here to workout, put some EFFORT into it, will ya? Don’t be Mr. or Miss Random. Get in, do the work, and get out. Get an actual program from someone who knows your goals and is knowledgeable and someone you trust. Preferably a personal trainer. (Want online training? I do that now too and I’ll have videos coming soon. Click here for more information) Magazine workouts are sub par for those on a budget. If you have sworn off hiring a PT, you should invest in one or two really good BOOKS with programs that you can follow. Here are two that I’m reading right now: Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. Obviously men wouldn’t purchase the latter recommendation although most ladies like a man with some a strong set of glutes on them. 😉 A couple other authors I really like are Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. Rachel put out one of my favorite books: The Female Body Breakthrough and her hubby Alwyn wrote what I consider the bible for women lifters: The New Rules of Lifting for Women.
Not a woman and want some recommendations? Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle mentioned above is appropriate for everyone but another good one – The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle is geared towards men.
- You have a routine…but it’s been the same routine for over a year. While there’s nothing wrong with being consistent, all of us could use a little update to our current programs. It doesn’t even have to be anything drastic with regards to the changes you’re making. But if what you are currently doing isn’t quite getting the job done, it’s time to update your ancient program. At the very least, you should be changing up the amount of reps or at least adding a more challenging weight. Repeat after me – Change is Good! I trained a woman recently who was doing the same program her old personal trainer had her on…3 years prior. She complained that nothing was changing at all and she was bored. No wonder! I’d be bored too if I did the same exercises day in and day out 3 years in a row too! When you can’t remember the last time you changed up the exercises in your current regiment, it’s time for an overhaul.
- You don’t lift at all. Why are you even reading this blog? 😉 Seriously though, time to stop thinking you don’t need to lift in order to see results because I promise you, you do. Cardio will only get you so far. And no one is saying you have to lift super heavy. The woman at the gym I referenced earlier lifts nothing heavier than 10lbs. Based on appearance alone, I feel like she is MUCH stronger than that! I feel like there’s a little lion in there and it needs to roar, ha! She doesn’t seem like she has an injury that she’s recovering from, her range of motion was fine. Perhaps she’s worried about getting “bulky.” Perhaps she doesn’t think she is CAPABLE of lifting that heavy. You have to start somewhere! You don’t need to grunt and sound like you are in pain everytime you lift…but you should look like you’re putting forth some effort to get those weights up. This is the only way you will see change. You. Need. To. Lift. Even if it’s your own bodyweight.
- You have no idea about pre and post workout nutrition. I don’t care if you’re going for fat loss or muscle gain or maintenance – Anyone who works out knows that the best snack is your PWO snack (Post WorkOut). This is the time when you can enjoy the benefits of working up a sweat and repair those muscles. EAT your Carbs! Drink your Protein Shake! This is the BEST time to eat. I make sure I eat within 30 minutes of finishing up my workout. When I was training for my competition it would not be unusual for me to be eating my snack the MOMENT I finished my last rep, walking out the door of the gym, scarfing down that Pop-Tart or fruit snacks like they were my last meal. It was glorious! As for pre-workout, some people can get away without eating anything and still getting a good lift on but at the very least, you need to ingest some BCAA’s so you have some energy.
- You don’t know what tempo means. I was guilty of this as well. I would get a good pump going on at the gym and go home and it was fine. But once I started getting coaching from Erik at LBC, and he instructed me on tempo when lifting, it was a game changer for me. I finally started seeing significant change in my physique. I finally started feeling a little sore too, which wasn’t a bad thing. Most of all, I FELT the muscles in my body working. You not only have to visualize your muscles working, you have to slow everything down and concentrate on the motion. Only then do you really appreciate what a machine your body is truly capable of being. Stop being in a such a rush when you lift. It just looks plain silly. Like this poor fella.
6 thoughts on “You’re Doing it Wrong: 5 Mistakes You Make in the Gym”
HI Michelle~Just read this post and reviewed the books you suggested. I not into buying all the books at this time so my question is for a beginner who is going back to gym for the first time in a while~which book would be best to obtain? My situation is I am 57 yrs old, about 50lb overweight but would like to build muscle-lots of muscle, however I have a nice thick layer of fat that needs to come off before I will see any definition. Any help you can offer would greatly be appreciated! Thanks for the blog..I love your honest and upfront approach~Laura Lee Morrison
Hey Laura! Thanks for the comment and question. While all the books I suggested are good reads, the best one for you is one I bought for my Mom many years ago. It’s called Strength Training Over 50: Stay Fit and Fabulous. Here’s the link from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Strength-Training-Over-50-Fabulous/dp/0764158120/ref=pd_sim_b_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=1XC8TFYM576HHKJY33A0
I also used many of the exercises with a female client of mine at the time because she was my first 50+ client I had. She probably had about 15lbs to lose but the exercises proved very helpful.
The second thing I would suggest is asking the Personal Trainer at your gym to give you a free tour/orientation of the equipment there. They should offer this anyways but make sure they do so if you do want to use say the leg press or the chest press machine, you know how to use it without incurring an injury as some of those machines are a little wacky. I hope this helps!!
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Great insights! Kind of hurt my feelings a bit when you wrote about the woman lifting only 10lbs with the same reps. I know it’s important to change up the routine. Never gonna see results! But some people aren’t able to lift heavy. 3 years ago I had a fusion in my spine. I look fit on the outside but it’s not good for me to lift 10lb weights. So if you see someone who looks healthy on the outside lifting really light, there may be a reason.
Absolutely right Allison, I shouldn’t have assumed she could lift more however I did observe her curling 10lbs in each hand. So for her to do 5lbs in each hand for chest presses kinda threw me off. But you’re right, we shouldn’t assume anything. I haven’t seen her lately but I promised myself next time I will ask her if she wants some help. Worse case she tells me to mind my own business. 🙂
That video was so hilarious! What a shame, he was doing it entirely wrong. Yes some of us maybe don’t realize that we are doing something wrong with our own routine. Thank you for sharing this.