In part two of common mistakes in the gym, we will look at using common mistakes in the gym as opportunities to learn.
We can’t force muscles or fitness to grow but we can continually fine-tune our methods for an improvement in performance.
Every sportsperson analyses their performance, and through an acknowledgement of our faults, we can change it in order to achieve our athletic potential.
To this end, here’s another five common error found in the fitness world:
1. Training strengths over weaknesses
You may be familiar with the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. We tend to train in what we are good at, because we’re afraid to expose weaknesses.
But it is only by challenging weaknesses that you will improve. An inflexible sprinter will never achieve their true potential in speed unless they release the brakes that tight muscles impose upon them.
Similarly, a man who wants to improve his bench press may have to work the small muscles that stabilise the rotator cuff (at the shoulder). He may have to leave his ego in the changing room as he performs these exercises to stabilise shoulders.
An unstable joint will not let you generate force.
2. Searching for the Holy Grail
I am continually asked about the best food, exercise programme, time to train, etc. The real answer is that there is no ultimate best food or exercise, as no food contains all the nutrients you need.
Likewise, no single exercise can be all things to your body. The best is the one you are not doing. A programme is only as good as the time it takes your body to adapt to it.
Every time you replicate a programme, it becomes less effective and, in the long term, it can create muscle imbalances and injuries.
Every year, I see fitness crazes explode into gyms claiming to herald a new era. Every year I see people doing the same things over and over again, expecting the results to be different.
You constantly need to update to stop your body becoming stale.
3. Lack of continuity
While variation is important, so is continuity. Getting stronger is largely a matter of motor learning.
This, like any other type of learning, requires repetition. If you change exercises every workout, you may not get enough practice.
Beginners should perform a workout at least six times before changing it. They can’t lift much because they have poor inter-muscular co-ordination.
Their body may be only able to use 30pc of the bicep muscle to do a curl. As the body does more repetitions, the communication between the brain and the bicep improves.
This enables the body to start using 40, 50 and then 60pc of the muscle, and so on, so the person can then lift heavier weights.
4. Lack of mind-muscle connection
Modern gyms provide a wealth of educational opportunities to learn how not to do exercises.
Poor biomechanics performing exercises mean that the person performing the exercise cannot feel the muscle they are supposed to be working. Whether it is in Pilates, yoga, or the weight-room, you should work on developing a connection between your brain and the muscle working.
There have been times in a gym when I’ve seen two guys working together, but I don’t know who is pushing and who is pulling. If you are performing an exercise correctly, you’ll feel the tension through the target muscle but no pain or discomfort in the associated joint.
5. Too much aerobic exercise
This can lead to decreases in strength and increases in muscle wastage. As you lose muscle, you slow down your metabolism, which reduces your ability to burn fuel.
As you burn less fuel and eat the same, you will end up with an energy imbalance and will gain weight. You should perform anaerobic workouts in your ‘target heart-rate zone’ to burn fat.