So, why do so many people waste so much time at the gym?
There are two ways you can waste time at the gym. The first is simply by procrastinating, socializing, getting very little done. The second way you can waste time is by not performing effective exercises, or not performing effective exercises, effectively. This time wasting creates a double-edged problem, you spend more time at the gym and get less out of it. More time gone from your schedule, and fewer gains! That sucks!
The trick to getting results in the gym is to get in, trash the muscles in question as quickly and effectively as possible, and be on your way. Weight training for muscle gain should be all about intensity. Keep the strain on the muscles, keep them hot and gorged with blood until they scream for rest. High-intensity workouts not only fully exhaust the muscles but also boost anabolic hormones such as testosterone and human growth hormone along with other growth factors.
The internet is full of crazy articles and workout ideas, jammed full of off the wall lifting ideas that are touted to be the next big thing to explode your growth. The vast majority of this is rubbish. It is just gimmicky filler to generate clicks.
Get in the gym, hit the big lifts, perform them properly and with as much intensity as possible, then get in your post workout nutrition. Without further ado, here are the top 10 ways you might be wasting time at the gym, and what you can do about it.
Mobile phones are your number one enemy at the gym! You finish a set, take a sip of water….. and grab your phone. Before you know it you’ve checked Facebook, liked a random picture of a dog driving a car, flipped through your photos, and sent a text to your mate telling him he’s a plonker for spilling beer down his shirt last weekend. Four minutes have gone by. Your muscles have begun to cool down, the pump is gone, and your focus is totally ruined. Your intensity is now non-existent, and there’s a 140kg beast waiting to wring your neck for hogging the squat rack. Don’t do it!
Hit the gym with one thing in mind: get an intense and effective, muscle building workout. Focus. Aim to be out in 45 minutes, and stay no longer than an hour. When that hour ticks by you should be finishing what you’re doing and get out. After one hour, your body will almost certainly be heading for a dark and catabolic place. Don’t go there.
If you have to use your phone, do it before the gym. Leave it in your locker or, better still, at home.
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As mentioned in the intro, there are so many gimmicky new ‘ideas’ out there every day. You need to spot the stinkers from a mile off. Most of these crazy articles and new lifts are just there to generate traffic through websites, and in reality will do very little to help you. In fact, some of them will see you on a one-way street to injury central.
Sure, there are some good new ideas out there, but, on the whole, the best exercises for building killer quads or delts have already been invented. They are the tried and tested gym staples. The main lifts, like squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, chins, etc., should form the core of your workout. Sure you need to mix it up every now and then to keep your body guessing, but continuously performing strange new isolation movements is not the way to build muscle and strength.
Proper form and good range of motion are the best way to build muscle and stay injury free. Don’t be tempted to start throwing discs onto the bar and swing it around to try and impress your mates, or the hottie in the squat rack. No-one’s going to be impressed when you tear the hell out of your rotator cuff and spend four months strapped up, barely even able to do a set of leg extensions, least of all you.
Proper form, full range of motion, and a good mind-muscle connection will focus the effort effectively into the target muscle. Watch people doing lateral raises next time you’re in the gym, and take a guess how much of that effort is hitting the lateral delt head! Ignore the numbers on the ends of the weights and lift with proper form. Your dented ego will soon recover when a new level of growth kicks in.
Ever notice how the biggest guys and the girls with tightest bods at the gym are the ones with their music on and a constant layer of sweat over their skin?
The ones who spend the minimal time between their sets stretching and moving around?
The ones with that focused look in their eyes like they’re about to kill the next dumbbell that gets in their way?
The ones who don’t spend 5 minutes after every set chatting with their mates?!
As with the mobile phone point, gym time is gym time. If you need to socialize, do it at the weekend, or arrange a catch-up and a coffee after the gym. If you go to the gym to socialize, fair enough. But don’t be moaning next year when you’re the same size and pushing the same weights. Taking Sheer Strength Labs Pre-Workout Powder is a great way to boost focus and energy going into a gym session.
You don’t walk out of your front door each day without knowing where it is you want to go. So why do most people do it with the gym?
Set goals for yourself, so you have something to set your sights on and work towards. Don’t just go to the gym and keep doing the same workouts without any real idea of your progress. Whether you want to add 10 pounds of muscle by the end of the year, strip that little extra fat before the summer, or push 5 reps with 300 on the bench. Make concise goals and break them down into manageable chunks.
TIP: The best way to monitor your progress is to keep a training diary.
Waiting for people to finish with equipment is one of the most common ways people waste time at the gym. Try to always have a contingency plan. Instead of waiting for a bench to become free, grab a small bench and some dumbbells and smash your chest that way. It’s good to mix things up. If you’re flexible with your time, try to go to the gym at times when it is less busy.
This goes for the girls as well as the lads! I know it’s tough. It’s only natural to take the odd peek at a fine specimen as they workout on the other side of the gym (as long as you’re not staring and drooling). But don’t let it disrupt your work out. In fact, try to use it as motivation to train harder and smarter.
Over-training is about the biggest mistake you can make in the gym. There are two ways that you can over-train, they are closely linked, and one leads to the other.
First, you can spend too long in the gym, or be doing too many sets. You’re aiming to break down some muscle fibers, but not cause lasting damage. If you do too much damage, your body will struggle to rebuild by the next session.
Second, you need to take a break now and then. You should take at least one week off every six months. The thought of that might make some of you uncomfortable, but your body needs total rest sometimes. Taking Sheer Strength Labs BCAA’s can help prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue for energy, one way you can help prevent over-training.
While you certainly need to perform a proper warm-up before every training session, spending half an hour on the treadmill is not the way to do it. All that will do is use up your blood sugar and put your body into a catabolic state. If it’s really cold, you could spend 5 minutes jogging very slowly, otherwise just stick to stretching the muscles and mobilizing the joints. Walking briskly to the gym is also a great way to warm-up.
So many people spend ages in the locker room both before and after training. You need to hit the gym pumped and ready for your session and get straight into it. When you finish, you need some quality nutrition and supplements, before a relaxing shower. Don’t use the locker room as a social club.
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.
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