Top 10 Things to Avoid Doing During Your Workout

So every now again I’ll find myself looking around the gym seeing things that I don’t understand. Don’t get me wrong. Some of these things I probably did myself as some point. And looking back I’m not too sure why I did them. Maybe it was because I saw somebody else train this way. Maybe it was from a fitness magazine I was reading at the time. Or maybe it was just a bad habit I developed all on my own.

But it doesn’t change the fact that seeing some of these misktakes being made in the gym is like finger nails on a chalk board.

Whatever the reason for developing these bad habits or using bad form the fact remains that I wasn’t aware that what I was doing was bad and that I needed to change this. And so now when I see others making some of the same mistakes I once did I feel  compelled to help them out.

But why not walk over and help that person right then and there you may be asking? For a few reasons including:

1. The gym is the last place unsolicited advice seems to be accepted. Short of you injuring yourself on the spot I’ve found that many people prefer to be left alone.  Am I wrong  in assuming this?

If you were doing this I may come over.

So as long as you aren’t going to kill yourself by what you’re doing I may stay out of it rather than get into a debate with someone.

2. I can reach more people this way. With these posts we can help thousands of people compared to individuals at a time on the gym floor.

3. When I work out it’s my time. I like to make my workouts as intense and short as possible. Stopping to help coach, correct and advise doesn’t allow for this.

Now that I’ve covered my rationale for letting some people carry on with unorthodox methods let me reward you for reading this far with the  Top 10 Things to Avoid Doing During Your Workout.

1. Using an open grip. Here’s what an open grip looks like. It basically means the thumb doens’t wrap around the bar to meet the fingers. Always use a closed grip for safety and for increased strength. Nobody ever intends for a bar to slip out of an open grip and fall on themselves but it does happen. As well with a closed grip you can squeeze the bar in your hands and generate more force through the rest of the body and push or pull a heavier load as a result.

2. Using the scorpion during a warm-up. A scorpion is a warm up drill where you are face down on the ground and you swing one leg over the body and touch it to the ground.

So why don’t we do this anymore? Well because the lumbar spine isn’t designed to have high levels of mobility. In some cases we might only see 5 degrees of rotation through the lumbar region yet when we move the leg from one side of the body to the other in this way we may be expecting more than 5 degrees from our low back. It doesn’t automatically have to mean an injury but if there is another way to warm-up up the hips with rotation and not move the back so much I’m all for it.

3. Using lifting straps. This ties in with point #1 above. Whenver your hands are in contact with the object to push or pull you want to have the strongest grip possible. Lifting straps take the load for you and require very minimal grip strength. Not a good thing. Always to look to improve your weak links. For many people this is their grip strength. Using lifting straps only makes this worse.

Another problem I have with lifting straps is they are not suitable for Olympic lifting. Athletes using straps and trying to Olympic lift will end up performing a reverse curl to catch the bar rather than rotating the arms and hands under the bar. By performing a reverse curl the bar drifts away from the body and resuls in a lower power output.

Stay tuned until Wednesday when I’ll carry on with the Top 10 Things to Avoid Doing During Your Workout.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                       ‘always moving forward’

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6 Responses to Top 10 Things to Avoid Doing During Your Workout

  1. Gretchen says:

    Hi Chris, great comments about grip strength. I used to wear gloves when I was lifting heavier weights (for me) because I thought it helped with gripping the bar. Now I use my bare hands and my grip is better. I still forget to wrap my thumb around my fingers sometimes but I’m working on it.
    Thanks, Gretchen

    • Chris says:

      Gretchen: I always find a correlation to my grip strength and to my PR lifts. Also, a strong grip on the bar really causes you to focus on the task at hand and be committed to the lift.

      Keep working hard.


  2. Dr. Anthony says:

    Hi Chris,

    Good article.

    I like straps because I was sick of my grip giving way before the muscles in my back were fatigued. So I go as far as I can without straps, and then put them on to get a few more reps.


    • Chris says:

      Dr. Anthony: I guess every answer you could begin with ‘it depends…’ In this case I would ask myself what I am hoping to accomplish with this exercise. Is it:

      * a stronger deadlift?
      * stronger grip strength?
      * stronger overall?

      The answer then helps determine what is the correct approach. If you want to simply pull as much weight as possible then straps will definitely allow you to pull more than without. Gradually try and build up your pulling strength without the straps however. You can do with with:
      * static deadlift rack holds for time
      * dumbell farmer walks
      * using a snatch grip for your deadlift
      * using a thicker bar or grip attachments
      * incorporating other grip exercises into your program

      All the best,

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

  3. grantrambold says:

    Thanks Chris for the tips,about grip strength,I fall back on some of my old habits in the gym, and its great to be reminded. Im at the same gym as you working out pretty well the same time, it must be hard for you to watch some of those techniques in there? Thanks, Grant.

    • Chris says:

      Grant: You’re welcome. Glad to hear the tips are helping. Sometimes I do have to look the other way 🙂

      Chris ‘always moving forward’

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