As a trainer, I have a habit of looking at how other people are training and evaluating if they are doing all they can to maximize their efforts in the gym. That’s what it is about. You want to make the most of the time that you are there to get the most benefits.
From my evaluations of watching people train, it is apparent that a large percentage are doing things that are far from optimal when following an exercise program. If you are doing any of the things that I am about to outline, you should seriously consider changing what you are doing if you want to see maximum results.
Training Too Long– These are the people that you see in the gym for 2+ hours at a time. These are also the people that you see mostly talking, walking around, reading, watching tv, etc. They actually do very little working out. Most highly effective workouts will last anywhere from 40-60 minutes. Anything less and you are selling yourself short and anything more will result in an unfavorable anabolic/hormonal environment. Once you go over the 60 min mark, testosterone levels start to decrease and the stress hormone cortisol starts to increase. Also, if you are working out hard it is difficult to train longer than 60 min. You can train hard or you can train long. You cannot do both.
Not Training Hard Enough– Most people do not train hard enough in the gym. Of course, at first when a person is just starting to workout you will want to take it easy and make a gradual progression. But once you have been training for a while (4-6 weeks) you should be pushing yourself pretty hard. The body has no reason to change if you are not stressing it hard enough. That is simply physiology. Also most of the fat burning lactic acid is not produced until the final reps of the set. So if you are one of those people that quits the set too soon because it is getting a bit uncomfortable then you are seriously going to be compromising your results.
Not Following A Program– This is one that I never really understand, yet most people do it. They wander around aimlessly doing random exercises for random sets and reps. There is no rhyme or reason. If you are not following a program good luck on getting any kind of results. Your goals must be set first, then the proper program should be followed. Depending on your goals it will affect all factors of the program. You should be recording every set and rep from workout to workout. If you are not, how are you suppose to tell if you are making any progress? If you keep a good workout log you can see if you are making progress. If you are not then you can zero in on factors to help fix that. Always follow a program.
Not Timing Rest Breaks– Rest breaks are big factor in program design, yet I see very little people actually timing them. Your rest break helps dictate what kind of results you will get from your program. For example, strength will have a different rest break from fat loss. Also, how are you suppose to effectively track your progress without keeping rest breaks constant? For example if you did 10x100lbs for 3 sets on the bench press with 30 second breaks and the next workout did 10×110 for 3 sets but did 2 minute breaks you never actually increased, except for the intensity. But if you did 10×110 for 3 sets and kept the rest break constant at 30 seconds, now you have measurable progress. Not timing rest breaks is probably one of the most often mistakes I see.
Picking The Wrong Exercises– This is a bad one. And it happens often. People simply choose the wrong exercises. When choosing exercises you want the majority of them to be compound, free weight exercises. These use the most muscle mass and produce the greatest results. We are talking about squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, bench presses, etc. A compound exercise is a exercise that crosses 2 joints. Also most exercises should revolve around free weights. You see too many people doing single joint exercises on machines…then they wonder why they can’t get any results.
By simply following these guidelines you can really increase the effectiveness of your programs overnight. Remember, the goal is to get better results with less work…and everyone wants that!