Being that I have worked in a gym very well known for being the “iron standard” for most hard core bodybuilders, and I personally find myself being a gym rat, I notice a lot of spectators watching from afar then later attempting what they saw; inevitably injuring themselves. While it looks great from a distance, what’s not being understood is these people lifting as heavy as they do are FULLY aware of their own strength, have been practicing for years and learned from the beginning to start light & work your way up the ladder. Its just like anything else you begin. EVERYONE starts at the bottom. The only way to reach the top however, is to continue to build by doing it over and over and over again. I promise this doesn’t come naturally for most people….. and well, if it does, bless em! There are some gym etiquette points I will make as well.
For those of you who fit this description, I just have a few words of advice for you and its not to put you down or assume you can’t do it. Its to simply share with you some important aspects of training to make the proper gains everywhere, prevent sickness to keep you healthy and enable you to grow mentally.
1. FORM. Lack of PROPER FORM will without a doubt disable any progression you are looking for. I am a complete form monger. I will not attempt to lift, bend, stoop, squat, twist or make any movement that disables my form when I’m lifting weights. I don’t care if the weight is 2 pounds. If my form isn’t what it should be, that is what needs to be worked on first.
2. EGO. Too many people think the world of themselves and end up 1RM (Rep Max) injuring themselves with that single rep when if you were lifting, pushing or pulling a weight you could handle, you would have been able to get 8-12 pumped out and reaped benefits from it. So once your ego steps in front of your goal, you have taken more than one step back because its now going to take you longer to recover which means less time in the gym like you had planned.
3. PROPER FUEL. Loading up on crap such as an In & Out Burger with fries, dipping sauce and a coke is NOT workout fuel. For those who follow IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), it’s still not helping your internal health. Your body responds to clean fuel the entire day and its what will give you the substantial amount of energy to have a great workout. I see so many disgusting supplements and food choices inside and outside of the gym it makes me sick. If you plan on working out, but you eat like crap, you are wasting your own time and money. PERIOD. I understand most gyms are located next to juice shops and Pizza joints, but lets be honest, unless its your cheat meal or refeed, you don’t need it. Your body needs the right fuel for great conditioning. FOOD IS FUEL. That’s all it is.
4. HYDRATION. Water and BCAA’s are an imperative regimen for me. But I see a lot of dehydrated people working out without being able to finish strong because they lacked hydration or supplementing themselves the right way during the day or before their workout. From fuel (food) to hydration, your body requires a certain amount of energy to make it through the day or a very intense workout. Going into a routine without any of these can harm you, eat your muscle and basically work against you. Once again, a complete time waster.
5. CELL PHONES. You’re at the gym to workout… or am I wrong? Let me put it to you this way: You pay for a membership and you make no valuable use of it by chatting away on your phone. You’re working your mouth out more than your body. Why are you there? Why did you get a membership? This time at the gym is for YOU. The more you actually think about the muscle groups you’re working, including your heart; the more muscle fibers you recruit. Give it a shot. Watch the change in how you feel the next day by making the simple choice to LEAVE the phone in the locker room.
6. CLEAN THE EQUIPMENT. This is something that eats at me. I find myself cleaning other people’s machines after they jump off of them because they just didn’t wanna do it……..for whatever reason it is. Listen, you touch SO MUCH from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Everyone you can imagine touching the same things, are sneezing or coughing all over their hands without washing them, using the restroom without washing their hands (or even washing their hands then grabbing the door without a paper towel to open it) picking their nose, handling money and much more. All of those disgusting germs are transferred to other people. CLEAN YOUR EQUIPMENT! I’m not saying go around to every dumbbell in the gym & clean the bars, but DO wash your hands after using them. Refusing or forgetting to clean what you are going to use or have used can make you sick. Avoid it by taking 1 extra minute to just spray it down & wipe it off.
7. KNOW YOUR OWN STRENGTH. You look seriously ignorant and hilarious to everyone in the gym when you pick up a weight you KNOW you cannot lift but are attempting anyway. If someone truly cares to help you, I promise they will and they will ask you a few questions too. You’re at the starting line of injury by not paying attention to your own strength. You will eventually get to where you want to be, but by all means, DO NOT try to train like a Bodybuilder or Powerlifter if you aren’t one and aren’t training to be one. DO NOT train like a marathon runner if you’ve never ran any kind of mileage in your life. Its hard to start out slow and I understand the impatience part of it, but if you take it day by day and don’t try to workout like you’ve been doing it for weeks, months or even years, you will progress faster than you thought you would because easing into it gives you faster and better gains mentally and physically. Don’t PUSH it. You’ll end up out of commission and be angry with yourself for not paying attention to your own strength.
Fitmark Athlete 2013