Look, I'm not gonna lie—I see a lot of stupid antics in the gym. Wait, let me rephrase that...I see a lot of stupid antics in gyms. It doesn't even matter what city or state I'm in or what gym I'm lifting at.
People are just plainly and simply uneducated as it pertains to exercise. And here's the funny thing—it's not just the younger lifters. Weightlifting enthusiasts of all ages fall into the category of what I like to call gym stupid.
Although it pains me to relive these terrible gym memories, I'm willing to take you on a walk through gym-stupid land. Visualize with me...
You walk into the gym and the first thing that draws your attention is a group of teenagers, maybe high school age, gathered around a bench cheering for this little guy, who you're sure can't be more than maybe 130 or 140 pounds, pressing up 225 for reps. Pretty beastly, right? Sure, until you break down his form.
To give you an idea of just how bad it is, you see him literally thrusting his pelvis into the air after each rep. At this point you're not sure if he's actually picturing himself having a sloppy one night stand at a cheap motel, or if that's just how he benches. But let's move on; I'm a little sick to my stomach now.
So you're starting your workout. You're progressing through your sets at a pretty good pace. But something occurs to you after your 3rd set of supinated-grip seated rows—the guy next to you has done like 18 sets of curls.
Sure, he switches up his grip every time, but 18 sets? You just shake your head and keep to your own business. That is until you move on to your 6 sets of 3 heavy front squats.
You finish the first set no problem, but suddenly you hear a very high-pitched voice coming from behind you. At first you think it must be some really hot treadmill chick that noticed you from cardio bunny land, but as you turn around you're received by a little kid who's even tinier than the pelvis thruster. He advises you, very meekly of course, not to do squats because you will more than likely suffer from a serious core injury.
Had enough yet? I hope so, because I sure have! In an attempt to decrease the occurrence of gym stupid, I've brainstormed up a few tips for you. I'm not gonna tell you what to do; rather, I'm going to lay out a list of what not to do.
I swear I'm not trying to infringe upon your mom's, or even your girlfriend's, territory here. I'm just looking out for your body's best training interests! And my own mental state.
1. Don't Open Your Mouth When You Can Open Your Ears
You might think you have something really important to say, or some super rare knowledge to share, but let me break this down for you—you don't.
There are people out there that are way smarter than you that you need to be listening to. Open up your ears and you might actually learn a thing or two.
2. Don't Hop On The Low-Fat Bandwagon
Just don't do it. Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats all have a place in your diet. Yes, saturated fats and trans fats (margarine, fatty cuts of meat, milk, eggs) need to be severely limited due to health risks, but what about the others?
Why deny yourself the benefits of healthy fats when they are just so great? Get your monounsaturated fats in the form of nuts, avocados, natural peanut butter, and various vegetable oils.
Polyunsaturated omega-3's may be found in fish, flax seeds, and walnuts. Omega-6's, on the other hand, are found commonly in grains, eggs, and poultry. The typical American diet is rarely lacking omega-6's.
3. Don't Rely On Only Three Big Meals
This is a very unproductive way to eat. In fact, it has been shown in multiple studies to severely decrease your metabolism. The lower your metabolism, the less calories you burn.
So wouldn't it make sense to want to increase it? Luckily, we are able to do just this by implementing meals at 2.5-3 hour intervals. More frequent, lighter meals have been proven to increase metabolism time and time again.
4. Don't Think You're Above Skepticism
This might sound stupid coming from a writer, but hear me out. Don't believe everything you read. Just don't do it. Sure, there is a lot of well-researched and reputable information out there, but there's also a lot of garbage in the fitness world.
While one guy might say something about so-and-so, another might say the exact opposite. Take everything with a grain of salt.
5. Don't Assume You Are Smarter Than Your Body
I hate to break it to you buddy, but you're not. Your body is beyond smart—it's like a freakin' 23rd century robot. Here's an example—let's say you have really weak glutes. You head out to the track to run some sprints. After a thorough warm-up, you're ready to go.
You blast off the line and everything is looking good. But on the inside, your body is sending signals all over the place to accommodate this movement.
It realizes your glutes are weak and unable to perform properly in the triple extension necessary to carry out a sprint. It then sends a signal to the hamstrings letting them know that they need to pick up the slack because the glutes are failing miserably.
Because the glutes are only working at 80%, the hamstrings are now working at 120%. They are lengthened and becoming very tight. About ten yards later, a sharp pain runs through the bottom of your thigh and you end up with a pulled hamstring.
The point is—your body is smart. It will compensate for individual muscle weakness. You need to address each and every weakness you have in order to avoid increased imbalance and eventually injury.
6. Don't Neglect The Bottom Half
You know, the lower body. And before you ask, no—you can't bench with your legs. We call that the squat! Too many people, particularly the younger guys, focus all of their efforts on upper body work and completely ignore the lower body.
If you didn't complete catch the previous point, balance is key in preventing injury. Learn to love the squat, deadlift, and lunge, as well as all of their variations. You won't regret it.
7. Don't Work Through Pain
I know, you don't want to wimp out. All of your friends will see it as weakness and call you terrible names. Well, suck it up. Pain is not just random. If you're feeling serious sharp pain anywhere in your body, something is wrong and probably needs to be fixed.
If you continue to work through the pain, you are soon going to be looking at the long and arduous road of rehab. I pushed through some shoulder pain back in high school and ended up with a very badly strained rotator cuff. Rehab was not fun. Learn from my mistake.
Click Image To Enlarge.
If You're Feeling A Sharp Pain, Something
Is Wrong And Probably Needs To Be Fixed.
8. Don't Deny Yourself The Pleasures Of Breakfast
You know how you always hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Yeah, well, your mom is right. A solid morning meal high in protein and carbohydrates will go a long way in brightening your day.
With no morning meal, what energy are you running off of? Well, I'll tell you that you're probably burning muscle because your body has no other efficient energy source. Besides, bacon and eggs is definitely the breakfast of champions. You wanna be a champion, don't you?
9. Don't Try To Live Off 1,000 Calories
Regardless of what your health teacher told you, starvation is not the answer to your weight loss dilemma. More clean calories and more exercise is.
With a solid weightlifting program and a smidgeon of cardio, 1000 calories does not provide enough energy for your body to work with. As with skipping breakfast, you will just end up burning off your hard-earned muscle. You worked way too hard over the past 8 months to let that happen!
10. Don't Ignore Structure
Anatomy isn't just for geeky lab scientists. Again, we're coming back to the fact that your body is indeed quite smart. If you don't understand the structure of your body, how are you going to know what is needed to fix your imbalances? You're not.
I'm not telling you to go out and buy some complicated 700-page anatomy textbook or take a college-level anatomy class, but I will definitely advise some internet browsing.
With any luck, this might just aid in the devastating war against gym stupid.