7 Sins in the Gym

by Will Safford, CSCS, USAW, SFG
Performance360 Coach

The longer I coach at Performance360, the more I see the incredibly valuable tools in place to help members. It got me thinking on ways to best utilize them all to ensure you always stay progressing.

Here are seven things to avoid in your training.

1. Not Warming Up or Cooling Down

Let’s face it, you’re not a spring chicken anymore. When you were young and reckless a quick hammy stretch and a few side bends was enough to keep you going for hours without getting hurt. As you age, you might bend over to tie your shoe and end up in a pile on the floor. Don’t be a pile. Follow the warm-up, take it seriously and then spend time minutes cooling down and stretching post workout.

We offer a warm-up specific to the day’s workout but many times, especially if you have specific movement restrictions or recurring injuries, you need to do more. Not only does a thorough warm-up help prevent injuries, it primes your body, muscles, and joints for optimal performance. Thus, you’ll get more from workout.

A good warm-up includes some soft tissue work with the foam roll or lacrosse ball, mobility drills to prime the joints, dynamic stretches to loosen and warm the muscles, activation drills to “grease” the movements you’ll be performing in your workout, and some kind of cardio move to increase the heart rate. It may seem like a lot, but your body will thank you as you stay pain and injury free.

Also, don’t skip the cool down! We’re usually spent after the day’s workout and ready to get home asap. But, if you don’t stretch after your workout your muscles will tense right back up later in the day, leaving you tight and sore the next day. Spend at least five lousy minutes stretching the muscles you just worked to minimize soreness and prevent being a tight ass.

2. Not Having A Goal

The programming at Performance360 is aimed to give you just that, total complete three hundred and sixty-degree all-around performance, including strength, speed, muscle, athleticism, cardio capacity, endurance, fat-loss, etc. So, just coming to class will train you in every measurable way as an athlete, which will keep you progressing nicely, but, having a goal will give you direction in your workouts.

Frequently, there are “RFG” sets in the daily challenge, which means “Reps For Goal,” and typically they’re for strength or growth. If you choose strength one workout and the next workout you go for muscle growth, you’ll probably end up with not much of either.  The body needs repetitive input for change. So pick one and stick with it for at least six to eight weeks. After that, the body usually plateaus and needs new stimulus.

Maybe consistency is your issue, so a goal of four classes a week would be ideal.  Whatever it is, pick a goal, commit to it, and reach it.

3. Not Resting Enough

Usually I have to motivate people to get up and workout. Very rarely must I tell them to back off, however, there are the select few who can’t stay out of the gym. If this is you, and you know who you are, take a break. Yes, we all want to improve. We enjoy seeing our friends at the gym, challenging ourselves, setting PR’s.

BUT, your body makes changes when it’s recovering.

Coach Dave has written about the discipline of rest. Muscles are repaired, the CNS is restored, and you come back stronger and more able after good solid rest. When you keep the throttle at full you will actually get an averse response from your body.

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Training too often will lead to residual muscle soreness, an elevated resting heart rate, a decreased immune system, irritability, insomnia, lack of motivation, and potentially, depression.

Basically, you’ll get the complete opposite of what you’re training for and its only a matter of time before injury ensues.

If this is you, the weights will still be there in a week, and you won’t lose your gains, bro. Go get caught up on Netflix for a few days.

4. Not Tracking Workouts

The more I coach at Performance360 the more I realize the amazing tracking and guidance tools that we have. The guidance offered in the walkthroughs, the online Whiteboard Tracking App, the percentages targeted in lifts, these are all in place for you guys to succeed.

Do you really know what your one-rep max is on all the big lifts? I’m not saying go out and 1RM everything tomorrow, but it will pay to track your lifts. Knowing what you lift will ensure progress over time. If you’ve unknowingly been using the same weight on an exercise for the last six months, well, you haven’t made much progress huh?

Yes, you can get a great workout but have you gotten stronger? Or built better endurance and stamina since the last timed challenge? Maybe, but how would you really know?

If you don’t want to use the tracking system, use a notebook, a post it, anything. Know your big lift numbers so you can easily calculate your percentages when they come up in workouts.

Keep your weight and body fat so you know if your going in the right or wrong direction. Track your times for rounds, timed challenges, runs, rows, etc., and try to beat them in future workouts.

This will keep you on the path of progress.

5. Only Working Strengths

Knowing what the workouts are ahead of time is great. It prepares you for what’s to come and gets your mind right. Maybe on heavy deadlift days you know you need to show up 15 minutes early to warm up your back. Or you skip that big lunch before the 30-minute circuit from hell. But the flip side is it also allows you to pick and choose workouts you like and ones you don’t.

It allows you to cherry pick.

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Is stuff like this fun? Not really. But it gets you better.

The workouts you choose will probably include things you’re good at. Yes, working out should be fun, so if bench press is your thing, by all means do the bench press workout. But if you dread Hell Trots or the mile run and elect to skip, you’ll never improve on them. There’s absolutely an effective method to the madness at Performance360, so try to include as many types of workouts as possible, especially the ones you dislike.

Also, try different types of classes as well. Shred, Muscle, Barbell, Kettlebells, Yoga, Mobility. They’re all phenomenal classes that will develop different qualities, and if you’re making the Daily Challenge a few times a week, the last two, Yoga and Mobility, are an absolute must.

Don’t cherry pick!

6. Attempting PR’s Too Often

Setting a personal record is fun. It’s satisfying and motivating. You get your name on a wall and high fives all around. Yay!

But, training at the edge of your abilities on a regular basis is the fast track to overtraining and/or injury. I once heard from strength coach Dan John that Olympic lifters and pro athletes rarely attempt PRs, maybe once a year, if that. Instead they work in the 70-90% range most of the time and easily up their max when the time comes.

They build strength, they don’t test it.

PR’s are cool, but if they come at the expense of sloppy technique and/or risking injury, then just say no.

It’s just a number anyways.

7. Not Listening To Coaching

I have come from a very diverse fitness background and I can say with confidence that there are some kick ass coaches at P360. Many of them have diverse athletic backgrounds and bring a wealth of knowledge when it comes to strength and conditioning. They’ve invested the time and energy into understanding the human body and performance, so listen when they speak.

I know sometimes things can get repetitive, but coaching cues are delivered with a purpose. Their goal is to make you better, keep you away from injury, and get the most from your efforts in the gym. Really try to apply the concepts and tips from the walkthrough, and work on things in open gym you may have received coaching on.

Ask questions, ask for feedback. We coaches never feel bothered by these things. In fact, we geek out over them. So test us. Ask why you’re doing a movement, or how should something feel. It will make you better in the gym and keep the coaches on their toes.

Just don’t ask us to demo burpees, please.

Will Safford Performance360 CoachWill Safford is a coach at Performance360, San Diego’s Best Rated Gym. He is a former NCAA athlete and is certified through the CSCS, USA Weightlifting, StrongFirst Kettlebell and is a Purple Belt in Jiu Jitsu.

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