Keep More Than Two Sets Of Weights With Them At A Time
It seems that some men think they can get larger through osmosis. If they surround themselves with enough sets of dumbbells,they seem to think, they will magically become larger. Novice weight lifters like to work their way incrementally up to their max and then work their way back down. Not only is this incredibly selfish, but this logic is flawed. There are two tried and true approaches to dumbbell workouts. Either you go with high weight and low reps or lower weight and higher reps. Either you are focused on building mass or improving your muscle tone. By keeping every set of weights from 20s through 50s at your feet, you are not only taking weights away from others but you are straddling the two approaches, making your workout less effective.
Throw Weights And Grunt
These two gym sins go hand in hand. For many men, going to the gym isn’t just about getting in shape; it is about demonstrating just how manly you are to anyone within earshot. This results in men strutting around the weight room with their arms swinging at their sides, listening to their music at absurdly high volumes, and of course, throwing weights around and grunting. Luckily for the rest of us, throwing weights around at the end of a set can cause severe injury. So, the next time you find yourself sharing the gym with a Cro-Magnon, you can take comfort in the distinct possibility that sooner or later, the offender will throw their back out, and you won’t have to endure their obnxiousness for a few weeks.
Take An Hour Between Sets
As you increase the amount of weight you are lifting, you should also increase your rest period between sets. Men’s Health put out a handy guide detailing optimal rest time for weight lifters:
- 1 to 3 reps: Rest for to 5 minutes
- 4 to 7 reps: Rest for 2 to 3 minutes
- 8 to 12 reps: Rest for 1 to 2 minutes
- 13 reps or more: Rest for 1 minute
Few workouts call for only 1-3 reps, so most of the time you shouldn’t be resting longer than two and a half minutes between sets. That is enough time to get a drink of water, watch a couple plays on Sports Center, or take a quick glance over at the girls on the elliptical machines. You will find that the guys that consider themselves the kings of the gym rats often stroll around the gym, catch up with their boys, or shamelessly flirt for an eternity between sets. Not only does this serve to annoy and inconvenience everyone else who would like to use that equipment, but it doesn’t actually help your workout. If you love being at the gym so much that you just have to be there for three hours a night, you might want to consider a career in personal training instead of camping out on the only incline bench and wasting everyone else’s time.
Skip Leg Day
Every responsible fitness expert in your life from your high school gym teacher to your buddy with the exercise science degree has told you not to neglect your legs and your back. But, good advice is hard to follow when it gets in the way of vanity. Arms and chest are the classic “looks” muscles and it is all too easy to put undue focus on them. Remember that legs and back are the base that helps you build the rest of the muscles in your body. By paying attention to your whole body, you’ll find that the areas you’re most concerned about will look better than they did when you were only focusing on them. You can only do so many curls in a given gym session; make sure you give the rest of your body some love.
Disrespecting The Gym Staff
There is no ideal customer service job. If you've ever worked in any kind of service gig you've learned an eternal truth: people are terrible. Working at a gym seems like a particularly tough gig. From the sour puss looks that people give instructors who ask not to have their classes interrupted to outright rejection of friendly advice to the members constantly in the way of cleaning efforts it seems like the gym staff can never get a break.
It’s hard to think of other people when you’re at the gym. All you want is some private stress release after a long day. You want to be left alone with your weights and your music. That's fine, but just be sure to ask yourself once in a while if achieving your zen is inconveniencing people people that have to be there eight hours a day.
A good general rule of thumb at the gym is that women don’t want to talk to you. It already takes enough courage for women to venture into the squat racks or towards the dumbbells. This land of testosterone is full of men who are trying to be as masculine as possible, and believe that holding weights in their hands gives them license to behave like prepubescent boys in a treehouse. This means that women have their guard up in the weigh room. You have to be incredibly charming to make a welcome advance towards a lady in this naturally hostile environment. If you are going to talk to a girl, one thing she definitely doesn’t want to hear is your thoughts on her workout.
Maxing Out Without A Spot
At least with this idiot move, you aren’t hurting anyone but yourself. Pushing yourself to the limit is what the gym is all about. We get it: better faster stronger and all the rest. But, if you are going to go for broke, make sure you aren’t working without a net. While your well-formed chest muscles may wow the ladies, they will likely be distracted by your neck brace if you attempt at maxing out goes awry and no one is there to help you. If you ask someone for a spot, they most likely won’t turn you down, so you should ask for assistance with confidence. After all, they don’t want to look an idiot.
Cheating Full Range of Motion
As the old saying goes, you aren’t fooling anyone but yourself. When you’re doing a workout, make sure you following through the full extension. If you can’t, then use less weight. Everybody wants to look like a badass and there is no better way to do that than by curling a 70 pound barbell. But, if you can only go a quarter of the way down, at best you’re going to end up with an extremely well-defined half of your bicep. At worst, you’ll damage your muscle and put your arms out of commission for a while. It’s a good thing to push your limits, but if you can’t do the workout as it’s meant to be done, shed a few pounds from that barbell.
Trying A New Workout With Max Weight
YouTube is a wonderful thing. If you search “reverse grip bent over row” or “weighted back extension,” step-by-step video tutorials arrive on your screen instantly. Before you jump into a new workout routine, make sure that you know how to do the workout. Take a look over at the squat rack next time you go the gym. If less than half the guys aren’t shearing their knees, then you must be in professional locker room. Many weight lifters learn awful form early on and never seek advice on how to improve. The best way to davelop terrible form is to start with too much weight before you understand the fundamentals of the lift. Employees and your fellow gym members are great resources. They would probably love to talk to you about your form, and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk to you under you ask them politely to stop. So, if you don't have a clue what you're doing, ask someone who does.
Admiring Yourself in the Mirror Constantly
Unless you are in truly desperate circumstances, you probably have a mirror at home. Save your best impressions of a bodybuilding competition until you’re behind closed doors. No one else at the gym wants walk around your flex-a-thon in order to get to their weights of choice. The guy admiring himself in the mirror, pulling up his shirt to look at his abs, and flexing so hard he pulls a muscle is always standing six inches in front of the weights someone is trying to get to. Don’t be that guy. Flex in the shower. Flex while you brush your teeth. Flex as you cook your eggs and check yourself out in the reflection of your stainless steel stove. Just don’t flex in front of a bunch of dudes who don’t give a shit and just want you to get out of the way.