You see them a mile off – the cocky newbies that “don’t believe” in barbells and head straight for the machines, or the sweaty individual in the corner that you suspect is unemployed or homeless (or both!) because he is ALWAYS training. You know that they are heading straight for disaster; part of you would like to find some pretext for speaking to them and discreetly drive some sense into their heads, but experience tells you that you wouldn’t be able to change their minds even if you had Ali Najafian in person giving them advice.
At some stage they simply stop coming. They have hurt themselves or given up because they weren’t getting results.
Don’t go that route and read on…
- Don’t skip the basics
If you are not doing compound movements with the barbell, you are doing it wrong. Period. The machines, the cables, the bench press etc are all fine and well, but heavy compound movements are going to cause the favorable metabolic and hormonal environment you need for augmenting muscle mass, and so you really shouldn’t exclude heavy squats, heavy bent over rows, deadlifts and standing military presses from your routine.
- Don’t overtrain
After 45 minutes of intense training your levels of cortisol will be high and your testosterone and growth hormone levels will be low. If you are training for more than an hour you are overtraining. If you still have energy to train after an hour you are not training properly, which leads us on to BIG MISTAKE number 3.
- Don’t cheat yourself into light weights
There is one sure-fire way of knowing if the weights you are using will effectively allow you to build muscle mass. Choose the weight and do 6 repetitions..then try doing a seventh..did you manage? That’s BAD, it means you must add more weight. Obviously I’m referring to repetitions you can do without losing form. The concept behind body building is that you must strain the muscle to lift a weight it wouldn’t usually do. If your weights are too light you will build resistance but not muscle mass.
- Don’t forget to eat and drink
Even amateur bodybuilders nowadays know the importance of coming to training well-nourished, but amazingly they still don’t do it. Eating protein 1 hour before training and having a protein and carbohydrate shake after training must be considered as part of the training itself. Indeed failing to do this can induce a catabolic (breaking down) state instead of an anabolic (building up) state. What’s the point of putting yourself through all the hard work if you will be getting NOTHING out of it? Same goes for water – your body needs it for a huge number of muscular and even fat burning processes. Water is not “just hydration”, so drink it!
- Social or other interruptions
If people know you for being the outgoing, talkative guy in the gym, you really only have one option, change gym! Patiently educate the people around you to the fact that when you are training you are not available for conversation. Don’t do anything apart from lift weights and mildly stretch when fatigued. Interrupting your training halfway through is risky and detrimental. After your workout, then by all means make up for it by being as smiley and sociable as you please!
- Skipping warm up
If you get to the gym late, you must know it is more useful to do a proper warm up and less sets than to skip the warm up and getting stuck straight into the intense stuff.
Dude, you need a plan! Don’t go into the gym and just do what you feel like doing, because chances are it will become repetitive and you’ll stop seeing results (because you are only doing what comes easiest). Build your workout program and stick to it. Alternate things you hate with things you get satisfaction out of.
So, don’t be a “cocky newbie” or a “homeless over-trainer”. Avoid common (frightfully common) bodybuilding mistakes, and you will bring home the results, guaranteed!