Five mistakes you are making in the gym - Part 1
Posted on 21st September 2020 at 12:21
Today I share five common mistakes I see in the gym which hold a lot of people back.
It's nearly two months since gyms re-opened and I am sure we are all hoping they will continue to stay open going forward.
I think we have all realised since being back how important the gym is for both our physical and mental well being.
I don't think I could go back to doing dumbbell chest press off the side of my sofa again.
However since being back in the gym I do still spot a few basic mistakes that people make. Not even mistakes necessarily but just things that are holding people back and stunting their potential progress.
In this part 1 of 2 email series I am going to give my top 10 mistakes I see in the gym that are holding people back and potentially putting them at risk of injury.
1. Bouncing deadlifts
I am sure you have seen it. Someone at your gym throws loads of plates on to the bar and just about grinds out a rep only to drop the weight and bounce it off the floor for a few more ugly looking reps.
I love the deadlift as a full body movement and strength builder but for me it should always be reset on the floor for every rep. Reason being that it allows for better control, you don't get any momentum for each lift and its much safer.
There is an argument that when you touch and go with the bar on the floor that you will get more consistent tension (metabolic stress) but in my opinion the deadlift isn't an exercise where you are looking for that kind of tension. It's more about building mechanical tension which doesn't require you to keep the weight moving like metabolic stress does.
So next time you deadlift make sure you let the bar rest on the floor for each rep and not only will the lift feel more solid but you will also have a much better chance of avoiding injury and keeping your form tight.
2. Using dropsets early in session
I enjoy training intensifiers like dropsets but they should be used sparingly and where they are positioned in a workout is really important.
Lets say you are doing a push workout and your first exercise is bench press. If you were to add in dropsets straight away for your first exercise you will really fatigue your chest. This will then effect the amount of load you can lift on your next chest exercise in that session.
Training volume is so important when it comes to progress in the gym and using dropsets too early will effect this negatively.
The best place to use dropsets is towards the end of your workout or on the last exercise for a chosen muscle group. This will allow you to really fatigue the muscle, add in that last bit volume and also get a good pump to finish (we all love a bit of that).
3. Using just 1 rep range
Is there any issues with doing 3x10 on every exercise? In theory no but to see the best results in the gym there are few things you want to achieve with your exercises.
Mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage are what I refer to as the three drivers of muscle gain. To achieve these things using a variety of rep ranges will be advantageous. Mechanical tension generally occurs during lower to medium rep ranges (5-8), metabolic stress in the higher ranges (10+) and muscle breakdown during slower eccentric tempos. By just doing 3x10 on every single exercise you will limit the progress you can make.
Using lower to medium rep ranges on some compounds and then higher rep ranges and slower tempos on more isolation exercises can be a pretty good structure to follow.
Also its really motivating to do some lower rep range work and see your strength climb hitting some PB s along the way.
4. Racking up the leg press
I am sure we all see this in our gym. People piling endless amounts of plates on the leg press. While this of course nothing wrong with this what often happens when people do try and lift very heavy on the leg press is they lose range of motion and their ego takes over.
I personally love the leg press as you can really overload your legs in a controlled position without any real lower back loading. But to really get the most of it you want to make sure your range is on point.
The difference of taking 20-40kgs off but getting that bit lower and keeping the weight moving is massive. Often this can result in feeling very jelly legged as you crawl off the machine.
No one really cares about PBs on a leg press save that for your squats and deadlifts. See the leg press as a controlled squat movement where you can generate lots of tension through controlled tempos and full range of motion.
5. Using knee and wrist wraps
This last one is something that I find a bit confusing and again is probably fuelled by ego lifting. Knee or elbow wraps will really make movements like squatting and pressing movements much easier as they help extend the knees and elbows respectively.
To realise how much they help put some on your knees or elbows and try and squat just bodyweight or perform a bicep curl with no weight. Its actually hard to do.
Using knee and elbow wraps will allow you to lift heavier loads but that doesn't mean you are stronger. You can lift more weight but you aren't actually overloading your muscles any more simply helping your joints. Very different to a lifting belt which simply helps support your core and create more intra abdominal tension which will allow you to load your legs better.
For the average guy who wants to build a bit more muscle and get stronger knee and elbow wraps are really not necessary. If you want a bit more support as you elbows and knees can be a bit stiff and sore then get some neoprene sleeves. These will help keep the joints warm and just add that little bit more support but by no means help extend the joints like sleeves.
I hope you found these five tips today helpful. Maybe you have fallen foul of a few of them or if not then great. If you want to know more about any of these don't hesitate to DM me.
Stay tuned for next weeks blog and the next 5 of common mistakes in the gym.
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