3 Workout Basics That Guys Screw Up


Every once in a while you’ll see trainers like me come up with a “XX Mistakes Guys Make In the Gym” article. They’re usually fun and informative, plus if you’ve spent any time in a gym you’ll soon realize that there’s a never-ending supply of fodder for these articles.

So, in light of some of the stuff I’ve seen today in the gym, I’m going to throw one of those articles at you. This one is going to go a little different, though. We’re going to talk about the biggest real problem (ie not talking too damn much to HGOT (Hot Girl On Treadmill) instead of working out) that I see derail the best efforts of most guys when it comes to training.

1. Not having a plan. No, “Bench Day” does not constitute a plan. That just means that it’s Monday… or Tuesday… or Wednesday, etc. I can’t tell you how often I see guys come in and ask each other “What do you feel like doing today?” or just wander around from exercise to exercise. It’s very hard to make real progress in the gym without a program, and eventually it’s pretty much impossible to.

Yes, before you bring it up, I know that there’s a Weider Principle (#853, I think) called “Instinctual Training” where you rely on “your body to tell you what it needs to grow”. Well, 99% of the bodies in the gym, and all beginners, have no concept of what their body needs to grow. I know a handful of very advanced lifters who train this way, but these guys have been throwing weight for 20+ years, have reached the pinnacle of the sport, and none of them are at the peak of their competitive state now. They just train to generally stay in shape and because training is in their blood and their results reflect that. If you want to see real results, you need a real plan, which brings me to…

2. Having a plan, but it sucks. After a while, most guys realize that they need some kind of program to keep getting bigger, stronger, and leaner. So they either find one, often from a magazine, or they create their own. Here’s the problems with that:

-Most magazine programs that are supposedly performed “by the pros” are total bullshit. Most of the pros don’t do programs like you see in a magazine, and even if they did… They’re pros! These guys are very advanced and genetically gifted athletes (be it bodybuilding, powerlifting, football, whatever). So why would some young guy just trying to gain some muscle and lose some fat so that the women will like him try to do a program (maybe) designed for a professional athlete? It boggles the mind.

-Creating your own program? That works if you’ve got the experience and knowledge to do it. However, most early lifters don’t. Instead they stick a bunch of exercises that they like to do together and call it a program. That’s not a program, it’s recreation. A good, sound program is directed towards your goals (whatever they may be) and focuses on developing your weak points. Developing your weak points is usually not fun, and it’s usually the stuff you hate to do. Since it often takes some fun out of training most of you will happily omit it from your own program design.

3. Not sticking with a plan when it’s working. This one drives me up the wall. A guy will get a program, and it turns out that it’s a good one. It’s working like hell. He’s losing fat, gaining muscle, hitting personal records in the gym, turning every head (Hell, now HGOT is jumping off to talk to HIM!), and then it happens…

He reads something. He watches a video. He talks to one of the dumbasses in the gym (who hasn’t seen any progress in five years). Before you know it, he’s off on a totally new program! The grass is always greener, the biceps are always bigger, and the barbells are always more shiny on the other side of the fence.

Learn to milk a program for as long as you absolutely can when it’s working. Squeeze every bit of progress out of it before you reevaluate and change your course of action. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In the strength training world there aren’t many straight lines, but the fewer direction changes you can make the shorter the overall distance you’ll have to travel to reach your goals.

What’s the number one mistake you see guys make in the gym?

Keep your eyes out for some new information coming from me soon that will make you stronger, faster, and more athletic than you’ve ever been! In the meantime, sign up on the right for my FREE Building the Badass eCourse!

Comments on 3 Workout Basics That Guys Screw Up Leave a Comment

October 19, 2010

Parker @ 9:40 pm #

I lift in a gym full of teenage boys, so the mistakes are many. The one that gets me is the guys who treat it like social hour. They spend so much time talking between lifts that their muscles can’t possibly still be warm. They annoy me too.

October 24, 2010

Isaac @ 11:16 am #

It’s going to be hard to avoid that with your situation, P, as the gym is recreation for most of them. We all know that high school kids are generally going to bullshit around in their recreation time, which to some degree they should be able to, I suppose. I feel you on your frustration, though.

I think you already do this, but I’d just try to reel in the few that seem like they really want to do it up in the gym and just make sure the rest aren’t being too stupid.

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