I remember when I first started stepping into the gym on my own. I was in college, super skinny and wanting to really put on some muscle. I tried to learn all I could online from “bodybuilder workouts” or forums. It soon became a huge passion of mine. Looking back, there were a lot of mistakes I was making that I wish I would’ve known beforehand. It would have saved me a lot of heartbreak. So here’s a short list of some things I wish I would have known when I was first starting out.
- Lifting heavy is everything (ego lifting)
Ego lifting is one of the most common mistakes amongst gym goers. I know I have personally been guilty of committing this treacherous ego lifting, and just about every guy who lifts has. So it’s ok if you’ve done it, because more than likely we all have. Just stop.. immediately. Ego lifting is where you throw a bunch of weight on whatever exercise you are doing to basically impress everyone else in the gym, or to not make yourself seem “weak”. This is quite possibly one of the WORST things you can do for your body. 1.) You aren’t getting the full benefits of the exercise. When you overcompensate and add more weight than you should, your body overcompensates and you utilize muscles that you shouldn’t during the exercise. This means you aren’t gaining the full benefits of the exercise and causing a contraction in your muscles. These contractions cause micro tears in your muscles. This leads to a rebuilding process after your workout causing your muscles to grow. 2.) You are MUCH more likely to hurt yourself when ego lifting, due to the fact that you’re really lifting more than you should and can really handle. Don’t worry what anybody else thinks about you, just go in there with a comfortable weight that you can lift and gain the best muscle contraction from. Here is an example of why you should never ego lift. Of course, this is an extreme case, but it can happen to anyone.
- Not getting a full extension (form)
This can go hand in hand with ego lifting. When you put too much weight on the bar, machine or whatever type of device you use, you won’t go through your full range of motion. This full range of motion is going to isolate the muscle you are working and maximize the amount of effort that you put on that muscle. A common exercise that I see this with are tricep extensions. To do this exercise correctly you should keep your elbows at your side, bringing your hands all the way up and extending all the way down, squeezing at the bottom. There are many ways you cannot have proper form on this exercise. You can either pull your elbows out from your side while going back up on the exercise, not extend all the way (squeezing your muscles at the bottom) or stopping half way up. Your form and muscle contraction are going to be the most important to building muscle and increasing strength. Don’t take away from these things.
- Not using clamps
This is more of a precaution than anything else. It’s rare when you see weights fall off of the bar, but it happens. And when it does happen it can lead to serious injury. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this situation, it’s just not worth the risk. Here is a perfect example why. While you may not be lifting a whole lot of weight, it’s still a good practice to utilize the clamps.
- Not tracking progress
Not tracking your progress can prove to be incredibly detrimental to your success. Most of the time people only track their weight. While weight might be the reason you started getting into fitness, it isn’t the all tell number. There are many different areas that you can make progression in. The amount of weight you are able to lift, or the amount of reps you are able to push out. Your body fat percentage is a great factor as well, and is honestly much more important than your weight. The scale can actually lie to you! Muscle has a higher density than fat, which means that it takes up less space for the same weight. So a lot of times you are gaining muscle while losing fat, which will not show up as well on the scale.
- Not recovering (nutrition)
Your recovery is going to be more important than your actual workout. How you recover is how you see real results. What are the ways you can recover? Food and sleep. There is some dispute as to how long you have after your workout to get a recovery meal in to your system, but ideally you want to take in your recovery meal (or protein powder) within an hour after exercise. This will ensure you stay anabolic and increase your muscle growth. Your recovery doesn’t end with your post-workout meal though. You must stay consistent with your dieting to make sure you are gaining the optimal amount of protein, fats, and carbs to fully recover. Dieting is AT LEAST 70% of the battle when it comes to your results.
Sleep is the most important part of recovering. The number one reason sleep is so important is due to the release of Growth Hormones (HGH) rising during deep sleep. HGH, which stands for Human Growth Hormone is an amino acid produced in the pituitary gland of the brain. HGH plays an incredibly, important role in the growth of skeletal muscle.
In this article I’ve covered a few various topics for gym safety and health. There are many more tips that I can go into, but I’ll start you off with these. I hope you carry this advice with you. These tips will aid in keeping you safe, injury free and truly help you reach your goals.
John “Obie” Oberkircher is the Marketing Director for Advantage Supplements, America’s best online supplement store. Obie has gained a thorough amount of knowledge throughout his years in the fitness and supplement industry. His vision and passion for helping others achieve their health and fitness goals is his primary objective for Advantage Supplements as a company, and the direction he wishes to continue to take. Advantage Supplements sells top of the line products from companies such as BSN supplements, CTD Sports, and Cellucor. We also offer a wide variety of products from protein such as Syntha 6, Isopure, and Dymatize Iso100 to fat burners such as Stimerex, Lipodrene, andHypercuts to vitamins and minerals.