March 8, 2017

5 of the most common mistakes people are making in the gym

OVER THE LAST 12 months I’ve filled the column with everything I feel is related to health and fitness.

Workout advice, healthy lifestyle tips, nutrition support, right down to mindset and recovery protocols have been covered.

The goal of this column is to keep the content relative to a large audience and get out as much real and honest information that I feel is related towards living a fit and healthy life.

The feedback has been great so last week I reached out to people and asked them what they wanted me to write about.

The response was positive and it was nice to see people looking for advice. I had people look for help with everything from workout advice, supplementation questions and training structure queries.

In today’s article I’ve jotted down the most common issues I have come across over the last 10 years working on the gym floor and will give you many ways on how you can improve these areas.

This article is put together not to show you your weaknesses but to help you combat them and give you that little bit more knowledge and structure.

1. Your warm-up needs structure

A lot of the time I see people not doing the right warm-up.

Over the years I’ve seen three types of warm-up styles. The quick five-minute cross-trainer approach, the person who literally flogs it and goes straight into a workout, and then the other method of spending 20 minutes not really doing a whole lot on a foam roller.

The goal of the warm-up is to set aside 10 minutes to increase your body temperature while loosening, stretching and activating your joints and muscles to prepare you for the next portion of your workout.

The video below includes a basic 10-minute template of what you should incorporate for a basic gym workout.

The structure here includes raising your body temperature and loosening your joints while using tools like foam rollers, resistance bands and lacrosse balls to work on tight spots in your body.


2. Your mobility is weak

At least 90% of the people I work with initially need to focus on their mobility.

After a quick assessment the top three areas that always seem to need attention are having very tight hamstrings, weak and inactive glutes and tight hip flexors. This is generally as a result of spending long periods sitting down and not enough time on stretching and activating areas that need work.

These three areas are a big contributor to lower back pain. I have always said that people should incorporate five or 10 minutes of mobility drills in their warm-up to stay on top of this.

The video below and article here has covered the basics you need to know.


3. Your movement techniques need attention

I have covered the basic movements before. Squatting, hinging, pulling and pressing are movements that give you the biggest bang for your buck and I generally like to see exercises such as goblet squats, deadlifts, push-ups, chin-ups and carries somewhere in a training program.

These exercises will help you build a solid foundation from which you can advance once you get consistent and stronger. The problem a lot of the time is that people don’t spend enough time on the basics and others sometimes have poor technique or are unsure what their technique should look like.

These drills are basic and uncomplicated, yet a lot of the time I see these movements performed incorrectly, largely due to two reasons: A) You haven’t been taught correctly or B) You didn’t lock down the basics for long enough and moved on to the more complex stuff too soon.

Source a trainer who is particular about technique, has a good pedigree and a track record of getting results.

The squat is a very basic movement yet I often see it performed incorrectly. Watch my video below and this might just help you out.


4. Your body is constantly quite tight and sore

Feeling tight, stiff and sore is part of training but at the same time you shouldn’t really rate how well your training session or programme is on how sore you are the next day.

To keep on top of your training plan I recommend people do at least 15 minutes of daily body maintenance.

This is going to help you recover better, help you train without tightness a bit more, decrease the chance of picking up an injury and overall just be a good benefit to your day.

A basic 15-minute flow of drills or yoga will really help you out. Doing light active recovery like an easy walk or even having an Epsom salts hot bath can help.


5. You think supplements will solve the problem

I have seen this creep into the fitness industry. Magic pills, juices, detoxes and a long list of supplements are constantly being advertised as the best way to get in shape.

A lot of people find themselves going down avenues like this with the hope it can help them drop a little more body fat, improve their performance in the gym and aid their chances of losing weight.

Supplements have a place but they should only be looked at once you have the basics covered when it comes to your nutrition.

My advice has always been the same here and the results I have seen with clients who stick to this approach speak for themselves.

Having a realistic 80/20 approach when it comes to nutrition is what works best. Start with real food and then look at your calorie and macronutritent breakdown.

Once you get to grasp that then you can look at supplements like whey/pea-based protein/creatine/BCAA if you feel any of them are needed. Get the food right first, find a good coach, work with him/her for a while and then ask them for advice on supplements somewhere down the road.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below.

You can also get more advice on my social media pages, which are also linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.