In this blog I am going to discuss how you can look at your own training in the gym with an honest eye to help you get the best results possible. Turning up to the gym and training isn’t enough. You need to train with correct form, tempo, intensity and activate the right muscles to stand any chance of progressing.
When you break down what resistance training is, you could argue that it is a pretty random thing to do in your spare time. Picking up heavy objects or moving machines in various directions to cause high amounts of stress on your body to break down muscle tissue in the hope it rebuilds bigger and stronger.
That’s a bit odd.
But we love it.
We love the process of stepping in the gym to get better, stronger, lose a bit more body fat and add that little bit of lean muscle to improve the appearance of our bodies.
But how can we know we are doing it right? How do we know we are 1) lifting with good form, 2) training with enough intensity and 3) activating the correct muscle groups?
The sad reality is at least 75% of the people I see in the gym don’t train correctly. I am most definitely not saying that my training is perfect, but with many years of experience under my belt, making and learning from many mistakes along the way, as well as working with hundreds of clients as a Personal Trainer and online coach, I would like to think that my training is in good order.
You give a lot of time and effort to training so you want to ensure you use that time wisely.
For those new to training, it can be possible to train with fairly average form, but still make decent progress. However, sadly, the more experienced you become with training the less room you have for progress as the stimulus begins to reduce. So it’s a good idea to dedicate some time exploring ways to optimise your training to achieve continued results.
Whether you are a newbie or are a more experienced trainer assessing your training better and improving it will only help in the long run.
Here are my top three easy ways to help you review how well you are training…
- Film your training
It seems that there can be a real stigma attached to people filming their own training in the gym. You might worry that others will be bothered by you setting up your phone or asking a friend to film your set. In my opinion, I honestly think that most people don’t give a ****, rest assured. Most are way too busy concentrating on their own training. There can be so many benefits of filming your training. It allows you to sit down in between your sets and really see how you move. Perhaps you are squatting, and it feels like you are achieving great depth, but when you watch it back you notice you aren’t even hitting parallel . Alternatively, perhaps the set feels really hard, but when you watch it back you notice that at no point did it look like you were going to fail. To give a different example, you may think that you are depressing your shoulders when you execute the Lat pulldown but the video reveals that it looks far more like a Trap pull! I film roughly 3 exercises in each of my sessions, and I ask my online clients to film and send me videos as frequently as they can. In my opinion, it’s an incredibly useful tool when seeking to assess form and technique.
- Can you feel the right muscles working?
When training it’s not a given you will always activate the right muscle groups for the given exercise you are training. Bigger stronger muscle groups can often take over without you realising. For optimal progress and a great looking physique it is essential you are activating the right muscles.If you finish a set on the Lat pull down and your lats aren’t burning, you may well be doing it wrong. Now this probably sounds obvious but how many people actually think about this when training? It’s not just about moving a weight from A to B, it’s about engaging the right muscles.If you can’t feel the exercise in the right place it’s a great idea to reduce the weight, slow down your form and focus on squeezing that muscle when you train it. How many guys throw around the 20kgs for dumbbell curls and actually load their biceps properly? Not many. Take home message: leave your ego at the door and load the right muscles if you want them to grow.
- Have someone else look over your training
Now this isn’t a sales pitch, but the truth is that having an experienced trainer look over your training can be invaluable in helping you make progress. You could train with a friend who is more experienced, work with a qualified and experienced Personal Trainer, or even come to a Team Box Training Masterclass …[ok, maybe that was a shameless plug, lol]. In all seriousness what you may think about your training is one thing but spend some time with someone who knows what they are talking about and the differences can be massive. Sometimes it’s the hands on nature to break things down, the cues needed to perform the movement correctly or just working you at an intensity you don’t often train at. It’s all well worth it for your training in the long run.
Training is a skill and is not easy, so do remember that! You won’t ever be the finished article, but you can try damn hard to get there.
Always think about how you can get better and how you can improve. Be critical of your training and how you lift. If you don’t do this already, try following the above three suggestions and you can look forward to seeing your results crank up a notch.