Why do you go to the gym? This is a question you have to ask yourself every single day.
If the answer is to make friends, chat with your mates or pose in front of a mirror, then you’re in the wrong place.
If your motivation is to push yourself and constantly progress to get bigger, better, faster, stronger and fitter every time you workout, then great.
Getting the best results out of every session requires laser-focus every time you walk through the gym door to the moment you squeeze out that final, agonising rep.
But there are so many things that can stand in the way of your workout, hamper your progress and mean you completely waste that precious hour in the gym.
Here are the 10 worst offenders that every man needs to avoid like the plague…
This personal training article was first written by Nick Mitchell for AskMen.com.
1. People Who Are At The Gym to Make Friends
If your training takes more than an hour you are socialising more than you are working out.
In between sets, keep your head down, your mind focused, and take note that cortisol levels rise and testosterone levels drop off a cliff if you try to push a weight training session much past the hour mark.
There will always be a bunch of guys who treat the gym as an extension of a boys’ club – usually they are old timers at the gym who haven’t improved their physiques since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.
Do what I do to counteract these time vampires – look grumpy and intense, and wear an iPod even if you don’t necessarily have to be listening to any music!
All men who inhabit the gym more than a little bit have something of the peacock in them. When the pretty girl walks past we can’t help but subtly flex something or put an extra 20kg on the bar. However, some characters are far worse than others.
Please don’t get sucked into the poundage game with the moron who lives on the bench press, bounces the bar off his chest as if his sternum was a trampoline, and lifts his arse so high up the bench it looks like he is being pleasured by the Invisible Woman.
Good lifting form is always paramount and you are not in the gym to impress your mates – most of you are there to get the best results possible so that when you leave the gym you impress potential mates. There is a difference. Think about it.
These “Jersey Shore” clowns would look a whole lot better if they spent more time focusing on training and less time being ridiculous show-offs!
3. Gadget Man
Every gym has one of these. His waist is synched in by the latest Valeo belt, he has heavy duty lifting gloves imported from Canada, a bench press suit from Elite Fts in the States, smelling salts, a do-rag, and Otomix trainers.
And he puts all these on just to do 3 sets of 10 on the leg extension and has only been using the gym for three months. He would have started a year ago, but he didn’t think it would be worthwhile until he had all his gear ready.
Such people miss the point entirely and will suck you into their world of excuses, if you let them.
Whilst having the latest gadgets and gizmos can be good thing (I ensure that we have all of them at our London personal training gym) they are no substitute for hard work and are only “icing on the cake” extras.
Waiting until things are “perfect” is just plain silly as every week you delay and prevaricate is a week lost when you could have been making progress towards your goals.
Vibrate your way to strength and leanness. If only I could write what I really think here.
No one, and I repeat no one, has ever developed any type of physique using these overpriced gimmicks.
They are designed for Chelsea housewives who want a shortcut – unfortunately for them, the only shortcut provided by a powerplate is to the unsuspecting customer’s wallet.
They may have some application for injured athletes who are greatly restricted in their range of motion, but that’s about it.
And to those who say they “feel” like they are being exercised if you let me shake you about for 10 minutes you’ll feel pretty tired too, but it won’t do jack for your muscles or your metabolism. Avoid like the plague.
5. Bosu Balls and Circus Tricks
If you want to be a clown, go train like a clown.
If you want to get bigger, stronger and leaner then train on stable surfaces that allow you to lift the most weight in good form.
There should be no debate on this.
6. The Smith Machine
It looks good and allows you to lift more weight and therefore seem more impressive in the gym.
However, if you want long-term, injury-free results avoid the smith machine wherever possible.
It will lock you into an artificial plane of motion that over time will cause imbalances in the smaller fixator and stabiliser muscles leading to sometimes chronic injury. If your personal trainer puts you on one of these, then sack him!
7. The Leg Extension
Not just a waste of time for 99% of trainees, but also a movement that has caused more knee injuries than any other leg exercise I can think of.
Leg extensions force the kneecap to “shear”, placing dangerous pressures on tendons and ligaments.
8. Pink Dumbbells
Some guys seem to have a fear of pushing themselves hard in the gym. You are a man for God’s sake, lift some heavy weight!
9. The Big Men’s Dumbells
Just as the chrome dumbells are for the girls, don’t be tempted to try the heavy set rusting on the floor until you are good and ready.
Getting nailed to the floor by the 150s isn’t a good look.
10. The Hot Chick (or maybe not)
Our final thing to potentially avoid in the gym is the hot chick. However, this is a rule that will only apply to some of you, whereas others should make a beeline in her direction right away. Why the contradictory advice? Let me explain.
If seeing a hot chick in the gym sends your dopamine through the roof and you can barely control your procreative zeal then she is best avoided unless you want to injure yourself attempting some ludicrous personal best on the bench press.
On the other hand, if you can control yourself a bit better and use the pulchritudinous sight to inspire you to display your peacock feathers by training harder, stricter, and in an altogether more controlled fashion then, by all means make that beeline for the gym hottie!