This is a continuation of a 3 Part series related to common gym training mistakes. Please see the previous post for Part I.
4. Going straight into my first set. When I was younger and it was bench day a warm-up involved doing 10 or so reps with just the bar. That’s it. And then as I started to add load to the bar for my working sets I might do a doorway chest stretch in between sets.
Not anymore. Now before I even get under a bar for I’ll do a general warm-up, some foam rolling, a dynamic warm-up, some mobility and stability work and then some full depth squats or hip hinges. And even once I step under the bar I’ll do many more light sets before getting up to working load.
And guess what? My lifts are as good as they ever been, I recover more quickly and I have no joint issues to speak of. Couldn’t say the same of my body in my younger days.
5. Don’t ignore the little guys. I’m talking about the 2.5 lbs and 5 lbs plates. When was the last time you added 2.5 lbs to the bar? Be honest? But how many guys with a strong bench will do 135 lbs, 225 lbs and 315 lbs for their last set?
I’m not sure why it is but we seem to ignore the value of small increments in our loads. If you are calculating your loads properly then 2.5 lbs per side may be adequate for some people to increase from one workout to the next. To keep your gains coming and to minimize injury look to the little guys.
6. Shrugs. Every young at some time has wanted big traps. It goes without saying that when we’re young guys we want to work on every muscle from the abs up that we can see in the mirror. So a workout program would involve abs, chest, biceps, shoulders and traps. That pretty much covers it all, wouldn’t you say?
The funny thing with shrugs is that they target the upper traps which tend to be over active for most people anyway. Think of where you tend to carry your tension. Think of the position of your shoulders, head and traps as you sit in your car, at your desk or computer. Then add a regular dose of heavy shrugs to this prescription.
Not necessarily what we need. Leave the shrugs on the cutting room floor when designing your program. And don’t even get me started about doing shrugs with straps haha.
7. Feet off the floor bench. You’ll see this done from time to time. And you’ll hear explanations from various ‘experts’ as to why you should do it:
“It helps flatten out your back” or
“It helps isolate your chest” or
“It prevents cheating”
And I’m sure there are others as well. The truth is that you can maintain a neutral spine with your feet on the floor. Your body knows movements not muscles so you create dysfunction when you work the parts separately in isolation. And while having your feet up may prevent you from arching your back there is no reason you can’t use strict form with your feet on the ground.
Guess what else? You’re stronger with your feet on the floor. With your feet on the floor you will have a more stable base and thus be able to generate more force. As well, think of the equal and opposite law of physics. As I push my feet hard into the ground there is resulting push back in the opposite direction which assists in moving the bar upwards.
Stay tuned for Friday when I give you the remaining 3 items related 10 Things to Avoid Doing During Your Workout.
All the best,
Chris okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’