During my countless hours in the weight room, I have observed many behaviors that “irritate” me and other fellow gym members, I want to politely rant while expanding on these issues so that you may avoid these errors while training. Hopefully this will flow as an extension of top gym tips for beginners instead of a venting session.
1. Plan Ahead
I have my workouts planned almost literally to the minute of what I am going to be doing, when, how many sets- I calculate all the variables and plan for some flexibility if my training partner wants to switch something up. I also have my nutritional timing for the day set up and ready to rock.
Whenever I am helping members on various social media platforms, friends at the college, or strangers at a commercial gyms I always ask them to break down their training split; often times I ask them to lead a workout, 9 times out of 10 they have little to no idea what to do or where to begin.
I simply ask for people to take their training a little more seriously and plan their workouts ahead of time, allow enough time to drive to the gym, park, warm up (stretch), train hard and cool down. A majority of gym goers have a (false) high expectation that simply adjusting their diet a little and buying a gym membership will yield the results they seek.
The first step to planning ahead is to develop a proper training split (an example is provided in this article) once you have a split or training frequency build to suit your goals you can now add a warm up, core lift and accessory movements and finally cardio/core if you so desire.
Having a plan and knowing what, when and how, will keep you moving in the weight room, on a time frame and keep you from looking like a lost sheep moving from the leg press, to curls to bench and ending up in the pool in the same training session.
If I had a dollar, or even a quarter for the number of times I have heard the phrase “bro I need to get on some supplements and I’ll be huge like you” – I’d be a rich man by now.
Supplements are used to supplement what your diet is lacking. Adding a protein shake post workout won’t make you the next Jay Cutler, smashing 10 different bottles of pills won’t help you unless your diet is in check. That being said, I do supplement; often times I have quite a stack going, the difference is I know what each product I am taking does for my body and when to time it. Too many people invest a large sum of money into supplements without first educating themselves on which ones work, what they actually do and when to take them. Ones diet needs to also be in check when supplementing to optimize gains from taking supplements and for a general healthy life style.
3. “Toning muscles”
This topic gets my blood boiling. Every single female and even a few males have told me they want to “loose fat, tone my body but I don’t want to gain any mass/muscle”. That is simply impossible; burning fat with proper diet and exercise will give your muscles a more defined look. When one is “toning” their muscles they are actually building and strengthening the muscles, muscles can only get bigger, smaller or stay the same!
Many new gym members will have listened to “bro science” and think they need to do 10 sets of 30 reps to achieve the results they are looking for, this is simply not the case; females in this position fear that lifting “heavy” will produce large, bulky bodies, this too is wildly incorrect (check out “Should Women do Chest Exercises?”).
In order to achieve the “tone” or “chiseled” look you might desire, you have to add a small amount of muscle mass and burn the fat off around those muscle groups. Don’t be afraid to train heavy for repetitions. It is the only way, paired with nutrition and cardio, to achieve the look you desire.
This rant also applies to “targeting” a body part to make only that part “fit, tone, whatever you might want to call it” the body is a machine and works together, doing 500 crunches won’t burn get rid of the muffin top. Develop a split, work the entire body (push/pull machine), adhere to a proper diet and supplement routine then enjoy the results!
4. Don’t interrupt someone mid-set
When I am under 400+lbs of weight, in the zone, psyched out and yelling, if mid rep someone decides to start taking weights off my bench press, I lose concentration and am quick to anger. I know many people who are in the same boat; I perceive it as disrespectful, dangerous and irritating. Wait until they are done with their set and calmed down before taking their weights.
The same “rule” applies to asking “how many more sets do you have” and “hey what do you do to get so big”, these types of questions are important, I love to help people out with diet questions, technique or whatever it might be but when I am pouring a small river of sweat, have the eye of the tiger and a few scoops of Jack3d running through my veins, it’s absolutely the wrong time to do so.
5. Have a spotter
This rant is pretty cut and dry so to speak – if you are doing a compound lift such as a bench press or squat, grab a trusted friend or a gym member who looks like they want to help or even a trainer (who isn’t training a client) to spot you. Explain clearly what you want them to do. I always tell my spotter where I want the weight, when to let go and to not touch the bar until I am finished. I have had to ditch my weight more times than I can count to save someone choking while a few hundred pounds crush their neck, it is a safety thing, plus you might just look goofy kicking, screaming and using your feet to rack a bench press.
If I have said it once I have said it one hundred times, learn proper technique before throwing 300 pounds on the far and hurting yourself. Leave you pride at the door, take a personal training session, watch a YouTube video, practice and or ask for help.
In addition to this tip, I love innovation as much as the next, it is what makes the world so amazing and unpredictable. However, some of the “workout” moves I have seen at the gym are beyond classic theatrics and often times result in injury.
7. Don’t stare
I appreciate a beautiful lady as much as the next man, and even admire bodybuilders, but please try not to stare. It becomes awkward and makes many people feel uncomfortable. I have many females tell me in private they fear going to commercial gyms because of the “creeps” who try and pick up on them. The gym is about becoming the best you possible. Obeying this rule will help keep guys like “Planet Fitness” away.
Keep safe and motivated
I hope I didn’t vent/rant too much and that you can relate to these points like I do. We are all guilty of these from time to time but recognizing our behavior and changing it will make the gym a safe, motivating place to better yourself.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”- Robert Collier