You’re heading to the gym all pumped up, visualizing the awesome workout that’s about to happen. Just as you’re about to enter the place you check your pockets, only to come to a horrifying conclusion that you forgot your iPhone and the old piece of paper you wrote the workout routine on 2 months ago.
Your world is falling apart, and there’s nothing you can do. Pre-sweat is acting like a catabolism inducing pre-workout. Also, the cardio-bunny you were hoping to see decided to skip her leg day. “Could this day get any worse?” With your training routine and music player at home, all you can really do is bicep curls!
Many things can go wrong in the life of a gym rat, as the story shows. But that doesn’t mean that our workouts have to suffer too much. In this article we’ll address the 10 common mistakes men make in the gym, and how to easily avoid them…
1. Cardio First
If you want to do a good weightlifting workout, don’t do an hour of cardio beforehand. Many guys make the mistake of staying on the treadmill for far too long, and then trying to do squats and deadlifts while they’re already exhausted.
If your workout consists of compound movements that require a lot of energy and leg work, exhausting yourself before you’ve even started is not a smart move. It’s better to leave 20-30 minutes after workouts for cardio, or do it separately.
2. Training Full
Okay, this is something I’m guilty of doing as well. Sometimes life gets in the way, and we can’t eat the pre-workout meal when we’d like to. So we stuff ourselves half an hour before going to the gym. The results are obvious – burping, stomach aches and slugishness.
The ideal situation is to eat 2 hours before hitting the weights, as the digestive system has enough time to process the food so that it doesn’t take away the energy you could be putting in the workout. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to do that, try to at least eat light.
A protein shake is the best alternative, if you have to eat something before a workout.
3. Skipping The Big 4
The Big 4 movements are: squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press. They’re call the Big 4 because they make you big! These exercises engage the whole musculo-skeletal system, as each rep requires your whole body to withstand the pressure. It’s a much more intense ordeal than bicep curls and similar one-muscle exercises.
People often avoid doing these because they’re tough, but they really are the foundation to building a powerful and muscular body.
4. Being Too Rigorous
It might seem strange at first, but the most scientific trainees in the gym are newbies. They tend to cling onto their workout routine as if it were the pathway to the Holy Grail. If it’s jotted down on the sweat stained paper that the first exercise is bench press, and all the benches are taken, you can bet that the newbie will wait half an hour in frustration for the next available spot.
The solution to this issue is simple. Don’t be too rigorous about your routine. If a piece of equipment is unavailable at that moment, it’s better to do a different exercise, than it is to lose your momentum. If you’re unable to do bench press, do some flys or push ups. The muscle won’t know that you’re cheating if you put in a good amount of effort regardless of the exercise.
5. Training Fasted
Training full or training fasted are not optimal. But with fasting, the situation is not completely black and white. Doing cardio first thing in the morning in a fasted state can actually be beneficial, both for fat loss, and because there is no food in the stomach to impede performance.
The opposite is true for lifting weights.
You want to have some food in the system, otherwise your strength against weighted resistance won’t be at the best level. So if you’re doing a morning cardio with some bodyweight exercises, fasting is okay, but if you’re planning to do a serious weightlifting workout, it will make you weaker.
6. Taking A Vacation
Rests between sets are obviously very important, but don’t overdo them. Taking a vacation in the middle of a workout to chat with your buddy and pose in the mirror can seriously impede progress.
Vince Gironda 8×8 workouts are based on taking the shortest breaks possible, at 15-30 sec. This way your mind is completely focused on the exercises, and you get to leave the gym in 30-45 minutes while putting in the maximum effort.
Not every routine is designed this way but it’s a good idea to follow.
7. Not Improving
Some men train just for the fun of it. Others want to actually build muscle. For the latter group, it’s crucial to set up a progressive overload scheme. What I mean by that is constantly building up more resistance, so that the muscle has a reason to grow.
If you’re lifting the same amount of weight, or training with the same intensity for more than a month, you’re not living up to your potential. Either increase the weight, reduce the rests between sets, or increase the amount of volume by adding more sets/reps or exercises.
The standard muscle group split has men training 5-6 times a week. That’s completely unnecessary. If you put in the right intensity, and do the Big 4 movements regularly, there will be no need to train every day.
In fact, training every day leads to over-training, meaning that your body falls into a state of catabolism due to a lack of proper rest. The split workouts are great if you’re on steroids, because you have enough testosterone to train 2 times a day, but for a regular male, training 3-4 times a week is more than enough to make gains.
9. Skipping The Leg Day
I hate to be one of THOSE guys, shaming you into training legs. I don’t like to train legs either. Unfortunately, we are 50% upper and 50% lower body. So why would you skip training half of your body? It will make you look unproportional.
Also, women are just like us – they like a strong bubble butt. So give the glutes, hams and quads the same respect you give to your chest and biceps. The ladies will reward you for the effort.
10. Always The Same
Another problem men often have is not being creative with their workouts. We fall into a routine that ‘suits us’, but that’s usually just a sign that we’ve grown ‘used to it’, and it’s not as difficult anymore..
You should constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone, and shock the system every 2-3 months with a different approach. Whether it’s a new arrangement of the same exercises or as crazy as a circuit routine, the choice is ultimately yours.
There are many mistakes done in the gym by both men and women. People of both genders will most likely find themselves in some of the 10 mistakes I’ve mentioned. These are all very easy to fix, but it takes some consistency to make it happen.
I hope this article will steer you in the right direction and improve your workouts as well.