I decided that it was time for a sequel to my post on 10 Things You Could Be Doing Better at the Gym. I am not guaranteeing that the sequel is better than the original.
Here are some other workout nuggets you may find useful. They include terminology, training tips and general pontifications by me on workout philosophy.
- Weightlifting gear is for cheaters. That may be harsh, but any equipment you wear makes the exercise easier. Belts, straps, wraps and the like all lessen the stress on the body. If you are injured, use them temporarily until you recover. However, overusing them when you are healthy can make your joints weaker and more prone to injury since they are always being “coddled”.
- Weightlifting gloves are the exception to the above. Most people don’t want bricklayer hands (like mine).
- More or less. Ladies, when lifting weights, use 10% more resistance than you think you can. Guys, use 10% less. That is just a general observation from 25 years of training…
- It’s not a book club. You cannot use a resistance machine and read a book at the same time. If you can, you are not working out hard enough. I see this all the time at the gym (especially on the leg extension machine for some reason). Hardcore runners would argue the same thing about a treadmill, but I will leave that up to you.
- Ab/Add. People mix up what their abductors and adductors do, which is important when the exercise plan tells you to use that machine. There is an easy way to remember. Abductors (muscles on the outer thigh) move your legs outwards. Think of the prefix “ab-“ denoting going away (as in a “king abdicates his throne”). Adductors (inner thighs) bring your legs together like you were “adding” them together.
- Muscle belly. Doing too much or too heavy of abdominal work can make your abs protrude. It’s a muscle, and that’s what happens when you train your core really hard. Yes, your abs, too. Take a look at any Olympic weightlifter if you need proof. Please don’t make me get into a discussion of how it is impossible to lose fat in one area of your body by exercising that area a lot.Take a look at any typist with pudgy hands for proof of that.
- Pause, then eat. Don’t chow down everything in sight after a workout. It is natural for you to be famished afterwards, and, thus, overeat. Wait 15-20 minutes after your workout to have a light snack. This should be rich in protein if you lifted weights or rich in carbohydrates if you did endurance/cardio work.
- Let go. When you are using a cardio machine, you should be able to raise your arms over your head and maintain the same pace for 30 seconds. If you can’t, you are leaning or holding onto the machine to maintain your speed. That means the machine is doing the work—not you.
- Keep those shoulders down. When doing bicep curls, push your tongue against your bottom teeth. This inhibits your ability to hunch your shoulders and hurt your neck.
- Train what you can’t see in a mirror. People tend to work on the front of their body—chest, biceps, quads. However, if you don’t pay attention what you can’t see, you can end up with imbalances that can lead to injury. For every exercise you do in the front (e.g., bench press), make sure you do one in the back (e.g., lat pulldowns).
- Calf work. Basic anatomy lesson: if you are doing standing calf raises, you are using your gastrocnemius (the one you can see). If you are doing seated calf raises, you are working the soleus (underneath the gastrocnemius). Where these muscles attach to different spots on the leg makes them almost impossible to work at the same time on a machine. That is why you need to do both.