The 5 Biggest Mistakes Made in The Gym
Jason Tremblay, PFT Certificate
Mistake #1 – Failure to Understand the Acute Training Variables
This is one of the most crucial errors made in gyms across the country. So much so that even the so-called “Personal Trainers” at your gym probably don’t understand these variables well enough. If you don’t understand how changing rep ranges from 3 reps per set to 10 reps per set will give a different training effect, you are just wasting your time! If you can’t understand the absolute basics of training, how can you create your own training programs? You need to understand these variables so that you can start making better programs and get more out of your time in the gym.
To learn more about the acute training variables please re-visit my article from last week “Understanding Periodization”
Mistake #2 – How to Elicit Overload
To make gains in any training phase, you will need to use enough load to stimulate adaptations. Many trainees get too caught up in the concept of progressive overload in the form of increasing weight used. Yes progressively adding more weight will often provide enough of a stimulus to continue making gains, but it is not the only way to provide overload and enhance the training effect.
6 Methods of Eliciting Overload
- Increasing load
- Increasing reps
- Increasing sets
- Increase number of training sessions per week
- Decreasing rest
- Increasing number of exercises
Mistake #3 – Assuming That You Are Injury Free
- 82% of athletes have disc bulges or herniations at one level.
- 38% at more than one level.
- 27% of athletes with verterbral fractures.
- 34% of athletes with rotator cuff tears.
- 79% of overhead throwing athletes with labral tears.
- 26% of jumpers with patellar tendinopathy.
If you train, make the assumption that you have some form of injury. Why aren’t more people performing Soft Tissue Work? Just because you don’t have any pain does not mean that you are injury free. Injuries can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Yes, this means that you can have an injury without experiencing pain. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you experience pain to start with soft tissue work. If symptoms are present, you do not have to address all of the issues causing pain. Addressing one or two areas may be enough to return injury to below the pain threshold. Would you rather spend 5 minutes before a workout with the foam roller, or would you rather have your training limited by pain for weeks? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Mistake #4 – Failure to Perform a Proper Warm-Up
- Increases heart rate
- Psychologically prepares athlete for training session
- Increases perspiration
- Increased deep muscle temperature
- Increases mobility
- Decreases viscosity of synovial fluid
Warming up is essential for maximizing performance. The majority of the benefits from warm ups are based on how increases in temperature can affect physiological processes. Elevation in body temperature increases the dissociation of oxygen from hemoglobin and myoglobin, increases muscle blood flow, increases sensitivity of nerve receptors and increases the speed of nervous impulses. So by now I would hope that you are seriously considering doing more then two or three warm up sets before your next training session. But how do you design an effective warm up?
- Start the warm up with some foam rolling or med ball rolling.
- Start with simple movements, progress to complicated movements. Finish the warm up with whole body movements.
- Generally works best to start at the ankles and work from the ground up.
- Select mobility drills that will work each joint in its planes of motion.
- Dynamic stretching or static stretching? Go with dynamic stretching during warm up. For more info on stretching check out this article on the Hunt Fitness database “Functional Benefits of Flexibility and Stretching”
Mistake #5 – Not Using the Correct Range of Motion
What is the correct range of motion you ask? The correct range of motion is a pain free range of motion. If there is no pain throughout the entire range of motion then you should perform the full range of motion of the exercise. When I hear somebody grunting like they are about to pass a kidney stone from across the gym I know exactly where to look. It’s the leg press of course! Far too many trainees load the leg press up with plate after plate and move the sled about a foot, how disappointing. At one point I was one of these guys that would load the leg press up with ridiculous amounts of weight. I simply didn’t know any better. I am using the leg press as an example because leg training is where I observe most trainees using a partial range of motion. What are these partials actually doing though and what is the benefit to full range of motion?
Lets pretend that my leg press 1RM throughout a full range of motion (sled to bottom stop) is 600 lbs. That 600 lbs. is now 100% of my 1 rep max, as intensity increases the CNS is taxed harder and harder. So say I loaded the leg press up with 1000 lbs. and did 1 rep. I would have just performed 1 rep with 167% of my 1RM, is depleting the CNS with an insane supra-maximal load really necessary to stimulate growth or add strength? NO ITS NOT! Not only do partials increase risk for injury, due to the fact that they heavily deplete (fatigue) the CNS, strength may suffer in the following workouts until sufficient recovery allows for biological homeostasis to be attained. What else is bad about partials as compared to full range of motion?
If you are training for hypertrophy, the eccentric phase and concentric phases of a rep are important for triggering physiological processes that will initiate protein synthesis. When doing full range of motion you can get more eccentric and concentric range of motion then partials. Not only is this less taxing on the CNS, it is more beneficial for making gains in hypertrophy.
I have listed above what I believe are the 5 most prevalent training errors made in gyms everyday. My hope is that bringing your attention to these errors will help you achieve your goals in a quicker and more effective manner. If you would like to contact me you can reach me at TheStrengthGuys@gmail.com or you can follow me on Twitter @TheStrengthGuys
1. MacNeil LG, Melov S, Hubbard AE, Baker SK, Tarnopolsky MA. (2010) Eccentric exercise activates novel transcriptional regulation of hypertrophic signaling pathways not affected by hormone changes. Retrieved February 18th, 2012 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20502695
2. Maureen C. Jensen, Michael N. Brant-Zawadzki, Nancy Obuchowski, Michael T. Modic, Dennis Malkasian, and Jeffrey S. Ross (1994) Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People without Back Pain. Retrieved February 18th, 2012 from: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199407143310201
3. Shellock FG, Prentice WE. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Retrieved February 18th, 2012 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3849057