This week I want to take a short detour from the really serious training info and share with you the lighter side of fitness training.
Like most people, I’ve got a list of pet peeves and, being a strength coach, a large number of them are related to the bizarre and often plain stupid things that people do in the pursuit of fitness.
When I see these things in the gym they make me want to run over, take the offender down and choke the stupid out of him.
Now, before you think I’m being an ass, ribbing on people, I will admit to two things.
First is that, for many people, these stupid things are done not through malice but through ignorance.
The second is that, over the past 15 years, I have been guilty of many of the same offences!
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Alright. Let’s get started.
Bench Press Monday
Walk into any gym on Monday (actually most days) and all you’ll see is guys doing bench presses – and doing them exceptionally badly.
Let me clarify a few things.
#1 – it’s not a bench press unless the bar touches your chest. Loading up 140kg and lowering it 10cm is not bench pressing.
#2 – if someone else touches the bar then that rep doesn’t count. Your spotter is there to stop you from dying if you fail at the bottom of the press, not to do his own arm-and-shoulder workout.
#3 – there are other exercises out there! Turning up to the gym and doing endless bench presses is a great way to get a huge chest, a hunched back and a lifetime of shoulder problems.
Takeaway tip – bench press right, bench press heavy and balance it with some back work.
Belts, wraps, gloves and straps
With the exception of gloves, there are legitimate uses for all of these things in a strength-training program. But, for most people, they are nothing more than fashion accessories.
Let’s start with belts.
The role of a belt is not, as most people assume, to support your back. Rather, it’s there to provide something to push against, using the intra-abdominal pressure from holding your breath.
In order for this to occur, your belt must be just about as wide at the front as the rear, be fairly stiff and be worn relatively tight (I get bruises from mine during squats).
The guy strutting around the gym in a $10 leather belt, three notches too loose, isn’t achieving anything he couldn’t achieve without the belt.
Furthermore, you should only use a belt for lifts above 80 per cent of your capacity in things such as squats and deadlifts.
Wearing it for curls makes me want to frisbee a 5kg plate at your head.
The same goes for wrist wraps and straps – they have their use for pushing and pulling heavy weights. But, if you have to wrap up to bench 60kg and use straps to do pull-ups, then you need a serious injection of harden-the-fuck-up.
Finally – gloves.
Gloves are for keeping your hands warm in winter or protecting them from environmental hazards.
Unless you are a highly paid hand model, gloves have no real place in the gym.
If your hands slip, buy chalk.
If your gym won’t allow it, find a better gym.
If you tear a callus, tape it.
Simple really. Wear your man-hands with pride gentlemen!
Bromance, phone calls and other distractions
If you are at the gym to train – then TRAIN!
I’m not there to wait 15 minutes for a barbell because you and your bro are deep in conversation over which bar to hit on the weekend.
To be honest, what passes for training in most gyms today is little more than mutual masturbation with weights.
Related to the above is perhaps my most hated breach of gym etiquette – unsolicited advice.
When I turn up to do a workout, the last thing I want is someone offering me advice that I haven’t asked or paid for.
Normally the advice comes from some pseudo trainer who says I should lower my deadlifts slowly or that I shouldn’t squat so deep.
Strangely, when I ask them to demonstrate the correct form with the weight I’m using, they tend to scurry off, making excuses about having trained legs the day before.
No word of a lie, I recently attempted a max-effort bench press – with Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl on a loop for more than 30 minutes!!!
For music in the gym, there should be just two options – Metal that would make your blood boil or nothing at all so people can listen to their own.
Building your workout around your biceps
Hot tip guys – men with big biceps are a dime a dozen and women have figured out that most of you are self-obsessed twits.
If you really want to attract women, you should do some squats so your legs look less like toothpicks.
It’s not all bad, though – when all you twits are busy doing mirror muscles, the squat rack is free for me.
Sadly, by the look of it, I’ve reached my word limit for this article just as I’m getting warmed up!
So I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice.
Next time you head for the gym, think about what you’re doing. I might just be lurking near the squat rack ready to pitch a kettlebell at your head!