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  • Writer's pictureKevin Mullins

5 Mistakes that Limit (Or Stop) Progress in the Gym

Hey Guys,

Last week we discussed training with a purpose and not just...working out. It is that type of mindset that always delivers results. Success comes from waking up in the morning with a mission to accomplish and setting out to do just that!

I've browsed the net for a while today and read a bunch of articles, found an amazing website for other trainers to use as a resource without having to read their faces off.

Mike Reinold crushes this one

Furthermore, I found an amazing read on a topic close to my wheelhouse by one of my favorite trainers, Tony Gentilcore, from Cressey Performance, that covers facts about why training women is no different than training men.

Read it here

Ok, now on to the meat and potatoes of this thing...

Working in a commerical gym I find myself seeing some crazy things on a daily basis. Horrible form, crazy and non-sense exercises, singing at the top of your lungs thinking no one is listening, and my personal favorite, shadow boxing at 6pm near the weights after your set of shoulder presses because you think people will think you are tough.......... (For the record, I'm not an expert, but I've learned over time that the people who "show" their fighting skills typically lose to the guys who never talk smack, and act like gentle individuals until you tick them off, just saying")

So, I decided to put together a list of 5 things that are absolutely killing your progress, or even stopping it in the gym. Ready and Go....

1. Doing Big Exercises with Incorrect Form or Partial Repetitions

This one should require no explanation honestly, but to be informative here we go. Doing an exercise wrong doesn't just put you at risk of an injury, which on many lifts, can be quite serious. Doing the lift wrong also punishes your progress by not activating the correct muscles and essentially missing the point of doing the damn thing in the first place. Deadlifting and utilizing your lower back will not only make you feel like you've been karate kicked in the spine by Bruce Lee, but it will also fail to use your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lats in the correct way. Thus, you fail to make progress.


This "missing' the point also applies to doing a lift with partial form. Squatting 6 inches with 315 on your back is about as useful as trying cook a steak with a candle. It's just not going to do it for you. Yet, being trapped in your ego and letting the surroundings dictate your workout (instead of you dictating to your surroundings) makes you load up too much weight, have crappy form, barely move the damn thing, and walk around with your chest puffed out until you pass out from holding your breathe too darn long.

Do things right and watch yourself prosper. If you do not know how to do things correctly, then find someone willing to help.

2. Spending 35 Minutes Doing Cardiovascular Work before Lifting

Seems logical right? I'm going to get warmed up, start burning some calories, and then thrash some weights around until I'm tired. OF COURSE it will get me bigger muscles, and burn more fat so that I look better.

Sadly, most reputable science outlets disagree with this practice. In fact, recent studies have discouraged it because of the fact that doing elongated bouts of cardiovascular training prior to weight training can lower testosterone (even in women), and burn through precious glycogen (sugar in your muscles) that would be used to move great resistances for more repetitions.

Translation: Save it for after you lift. Spend most of your stored energy (the food you've eaten, and even body fat) for use with the weights. You will feel more fresh, focused, and capable during your exercises. You will have better form on many moves like the squat and deadlift because your body will not be in a pre-exhausted state.

If you want to get a duration cardiovascular bout in on the same day that you lift, then save it for after you are done. Even if you are a part of the "I don't want to get big" crowd, you will find that you have much better workouts when you flip your script!

3. Too Much Cardio

This post applies to anyone who is in the process, will try, or has tried to lose weight in the last two thousand and fourteen years. The common practice that is preached by far too many people with no clue, including some personal trainers, is to do a ton of cardio, cut back on calories, and deplete the body to ensure you have burned more calories than you have consumed.

Logic says this works. If Johnny eats 1400 Calories and burns 1700 on a Tuesday in March, well dang it, Johnny burned 300 extra calories which will make him lose weight. This is TRUE.

However, statistics never apply to the individual, and thus we cannot think that an individual success will translate into greater success over time. Here is what I mean.

Cardiovascular exercise triggers a release of cortisol from our body. Cortisol is our stress hormone. It isn't the devil in LuLu Lemon that many people think it is, but it sure isn't good for retaining muscle mass and burning fat. Furthermore, doing excess cardiovascular training can slow down the metabolism over time by lowering testosterone levels (even in women) and making it harder to access body fat for fuel.

We come from a civilization, which not that long ago, had to hunt and gather food. We did not have 7-11s to get our diabetic delights, and grocery stores with processed junk piled to the ceilings. We would fast, we would gorge, we would fast, we would gorge. This told our bodies to preserve stored calories as best as possible in an effort to keep us alive, warm, and our brains functioning at a higher level.

What happens when you do too much cardio? You lose muscle mass, save some fat for later, and break down your endocrine (hormone system). That is not to say that you shouldn't do any, because there is plenty of evidence to show it is good for your cardiovascular system and brain function. Some individuals have even reported better management of pain and stress due to a regular running routine.

Guys and Gals, touching a weight will not turn you into a bodybuilder in a week. Your genetics are not Godly. Build a program around weight training and interval conditioning for weight loss, and sprinkle in the distance runs as change-ups.

4. Not Changing a Damn Thing

There are guys in the gym who do the same thing every day, five days a week, four weeks a month. They will wait ten minutes for a flat bench, grab the same dumbbells, and get on the same elliptical day in and day out.

Not surpisingly their bodies have not changed one ounce in the years I've seen them. Our bodies are smart things. Exercise is a basic stimulus-response relationship that states if I work out hard as hell and shock my body, then it must respond. Adaptation requires a constant effort to push that stimulation to another level.

If you follow the same weekly split year after year and don't see changes you are NOT a hard-gainer. You are no-worker no-gainer. Work is a changing variable that deals with our previous experiences.

If you are an office worker and you have never built a house, then if you suddenly were on a job site you'd be so darn exhausted you'll fall asleep on the A-frame when you had a chance. The same goes for your workout routine. If you have never exercised in your life, then anything you do will make you feel like poopy afterwards. However, if you are seasoned and have some experience under your belt, a beginner routine will not do anything for you.

Change is good in the gym. Do your best to change elements of your workouts every 6 to 8 weeks at the very least. Try powerlifting, try hypertrophy training, try HITT. Whatever you do, commit to the change and run with it until you are done that "cycle". This is known as periodization.

5. Worrying about What you Look like instead of WHAT YOU ARE DOING

We are all vein creatures. We all like to look good. These are facts. Some are less vein than others, but still will show their vanity if the situation is right.

Guys are wearing cut offs and beaters. Wrist Wraps and Beats headphones. Shakers bottles everywhere they walk. Mean mugging other lifters, and flexing in the mirror like they are weeks out from a competition.

Girls are LuLu Lemon head to toe, booty out. The cute and colorful top is on. The exercise selection is limited, because do not make a face, ever!

This is what you see at so many commerical gyms. It is a selfishness that says, "everyone is here to see what I'm doing and gives a damn about what I look like when I'm working out". News Flash: WRONG. No one cares about you and your workout unless you are doing something crazy stupid that draws attention to you (see point number 1), or you are that rarity of physique and strength that makes people observe in awe.

Everyone is so busy managing their own image that they don't notice you. They are you. You are them. Simple.

So, going forward stop dressing up. Wearing a shitty T-shirt and some baggy pants ladies. Dudes wear a hoody. Slam those headphones on and zone out. Create your own world in your head and be sad that others aren't with you in it.

See your goals in your eyes like you see your own reflection.

So there, is how you fix your routine. 5 Steps to a better version of yourself than you presented this morning.



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