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    The top 3 mistakes you’re making in the gym

    As a fitness professional that has spent years of my life in gyms I see many mistakes people are making in their attempts to reach their fitness goals. This costs people time, money and effort that is all wasted often doing things that have no scientific substance. I will offer some thoughts around these.

    On a macro level I have posted a few times about planning. Look guys, no plan, no outcome it’s that simple. I find it extraordinary that so many intelligent people seem to switch off in the gym and wander aimlessly around doing stuff randomly with seemingly no plan whatsoever. The funniest thing is seeing this happening and knowing it’s happening and watching these people actually doing it with purpose. Often I see people like this rushing around the gym, sweating, headphones in, looking all serious and like they are actually following a plan. They don’t fool me.

    On the flipside to this there’s the casual dude that wanders in, moves slow and deliberately, scans the gym for what equipment is available secretly hoping that the bench press or bicep curl machine is free and with zero preparation, ambles over and begins doing reps, all the while smiling, nodding to the other regulars with an ocassional high 5 or a covid-friendly fist-bump. Between sets he’s chatting amiably about usually crypto’s but sometimes what stocks are hot. There’s zero rush just a calm demeanour on the exterior of course, inside he’s secretly wondering what the fuck he will be doing next so he looks like he has a plan.

    Clearly having a plan is paramount so it’s a big error if you don’t have one. But as I have said this is not what I am here to talk about today.

    Here are the 3 big mistakes being made by those of you that are following a plan.

    Firstly you do not vary your reps enough. Lifting heavy is important for all of us, it’s the default regime most of us should be following primarily to have the most positive effect on our hormonal balance. Most people don’t of course they lift in the 10-15 rep range which as I have mentioned frequently in the past, will not get the optimal hormonal response (in fact it will create a negative one), a great post on this is here.

    Occasionally however it is absolutely ok and even beneficial to take a week or 2 doing higher reps. At this time doing longer cardio work is also an option so instead of doing work and rest at 30/30 secs or 60/60 experiment with 90/90 even try 2 or 2.5 minute work/rest intervals. Your output will be at a lower level of intensity but that is ok because as we know, sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

    Higher reps when lifting weights is associated with hypertrophy of muscle which essentially means muscles getting bigger. Lower reps when we are building for a positive hormonal response will also result in strength gains. A couple of classic pictures demonstrating that are here and by the way these are masters athletes, 40 years and over –

    Bodybuilders that primarily use rep ranges of 10-15 and higher
    Athletes that use lower rep ranges of 3-6, in this case men and women CrossFitters

    Schedule in a higher rep week or 2 every 6-8 weeks. By doing this you won’t impact significantly on your hormone balance, for men (having more testosterone than women) you may experience a bit of muscle size increase (not so bad really!) and you will give your tiring body a bit of a break or, as explained in the next section a good segway into lower reps again.

    Second big mistake is not scheduling rest weeks. Too many people frequenting gyms are tired, worn down and out and are fast losing their motivation or desire to exercise or train. Warning signs are everywhere you just need to see them.

    The dreaded training “plateau” is the number 1 problem that occurs. You may have successfully ignored your tiredness or lack of motivation because once you get in to a gym it’s amazing how an atmosphere can transform how you’re feeling. We have all felt it I am sure. And this is fine on slow days but when you accumulate a few of these days in a row there’s a bigger problem at play. I have literally just posted about this problem here.

    If you schedule it it will happen – so schedule in your rest weeks, they should be every 5-6 weeks. During these weeks do light running, yoga, mobility drills, some bike riding or just simply take a break. If you are paying attention and I know you are, you will see that in many cases you could take a rest week and come back with a high rep week (or 2) and then do 3-4 weeks of heavy before another rest. Over time you can formulate the system that works best for you.

    Thirdly you’re more than likely doing cardio incorrectly. I genuinely hurt to see women especially do excessive amounts of long, slow cardio believing they’re “burning” fat – ouch! And it’s not only women I just hurt more when I see the fairer sex doing it. As we know from previous posts long slow cardio only results in imbalancing hormones by spiking cortisol. Too much of this hormone means you cannot effectively shed fat and build muscle and in fact do the complete opposite.

    There are reams of research confirming that HIIT cardio protocols will increase growth hormone levels exactly what we are looking for.

    Plus this type of cardio will raise your anaerobic threshold meaning if you do run recreationally or competitively you can sustain a higher speed for longer periods. It will also help you develop a “kick” for that last gasp sprint for the finishing line.

    Ditch the long-winded cardio and use HIIT to spike healthy hormone release.

    And collectively stop making these mistakes and start making gains in your fitness program.

    #Building Better Humans

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      The top 3 mistakes you’re making in the gym

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