The Newcomer’s Guide to the Weight Room

By: Praneeth Ellanti

I recently started working as a personal trainer and have noticed that most newcomers to the gym make the same 5 mistakes. I truly believe that if these “sins” were avoided, everyone could have a safer, more efficient workout, while also gaining a more positive gym experience, in addition to getting stronger.

1. Thou shall not teach if thou aren’t qualified

It’s great that you bring your buddies to the gym and enjoy working out together. However, if you’re teaching  incorrect form, you’re doing more harm than good, especially when it comes to squatting. I believe there is no greater sin than teaching someone how to squat improperly! It’s not as simple as watching a Youtube video of someone squatting in his basement or just saying what you overheard a trainer telling a client. Each person needs cues specific to the areas he’s lacking, so just giving them the generic cue “chest up” isn’t doing much if his chest is already in the right position, but his knees are practically touching. It’s better to hire a trainer to get professional help than listening to your buddies when it comes to learning how to lift. This will make for a superior gym experience and a better training outcome. Everything has to be personalized for an individual – something only a trainer can provide.

“Yeah, bro, looks great!”…said no good friend ever.

2. Thou shall not believe in “broscience”

Fact: The world’s longest ongoing game of broken telephone is being played at the gym. Someone hears something from the interwebz, his friends or strangers, and then he decides to summarize what he overheard to others – often leaving out the really important details. If you don’t know how things work, please don’t talk like you’re an expert on it. If you hear something fishy, research it. I wrote an article earlier about this issue. I suggest you take a read, so you can filter out any BS you come across. Also, if you have a questions, it’s a good decision to ask someone qualified!

…Not

3. Thou shall come to the gym regularly

If you’re not consistent, you won’t get any gains. End of discussion. It doesn’t matter what program you’re on, just be consistent. If you’re lacking motivation, go to YouTube and watch Rocky for an hour…you’ll be more than motivated! Lack of time is the number one excuse for why people don’t work out, but saying you don’t have time translates to “working out isn’t a priority.” Make exercise a priority, and you’ll find the time. Suggestion? Get up a bit earlier and workout before class or work, or instead of going on Facebook for 30 minutes a day, spend that time being active. You’re the master of your life, don’t let it control you.

4. Thou shall be focused

It infuriates me when I see someone texting  while working out or having a 20 minute conversation between sets. What are you texting/talking about? I’m positive that whoever you’re talking to doesn’t want to hear about how “swole” you are while doing your 50th set of bicep curls. When I say focus, I mean focus on the muscles working during the set and focus on the muscles that will be used in your next exercise while you’re resting between sets.Imagine the movement, get psyched, get pumped, do whatever it takes so that the next set feels better than the last one. Just focus on what you doing. I got massive PRs after doing these things in as little as 3 weeks to the tune of a 20 lb gain in my squat after coming off a back injury.

5. Thou shall train everything

I recently learned how imbalanced most people’s training is. I see some people doing only what they like (i.e. bicep curls and bench press). Bros don’t let bros miss leg day. On the other hand, I’m the polar opposite. I haven’t bench pressed or done  bicep curls in ages.  Is that a balanced program? Hell no! As much as I dislike bench press, I do it once a week now. Keep balance in your program, and you will succeed.

These are the five biggest “sins” I see in the gym. I just want to re-emphasize the ‘thou shall not teach if you’re unqualified’ part. If you do it on a regular basis, please stop because you don’t know as much as you think you do! Avoid these five newbie mistakes and you just might be successful in your journey to “swole city”(term coined by Kory Allen).

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Have you committed any of these “sins?” Do you have any more advice for newcomers to the gym? If you have any questions or comments, post below and remember to “like” us on facebook!

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My name is Praneeth Ellanti (Candidate for B.Sc. in Kinesiology) and I am completely fascinated by movement performance. I believe that mobility and strength is the key to moving, feeling and performing better! People can usually find me by the squat rack or prowler – the two things I believe everyone should do.

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