Workout Fails: 10 of the Dumbest Things to Do in the Gym

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We’re all guilty of it. We waste time in the gym and wonder where our progress went. We habitually check our phones, talk our heads off and do other dumb things that have others (including ourselves) shaking their heads. Are you one of those guys or maybe you just don’t quite know it yet.

Related: 64 Ways to Tell if You’re a Gym Idiot

Below are 10 of the dumbest things you can do in the gym. Read through them and see how many you’re guilty of. Afterwards, let me know if I missed anything and if you have anything to add.

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10 Workout Fails to Avoid

Fail #1 – Going too heavy instead of training smart

Are you that guy? You pile way too much weight onto the bar in hopes to conjure some sort of magical growth spurt. You think that going twice as heavy will finally get you that big barrel chest you’re after. It might be impressive in your own head that you just lifted a ton of weight but in reality you only accomplished a single rep while your partner assisted and your butt came two feet off the bench.

Lighten up; nobody really cares how much you bench. We live in a selfish society and those other guys only care about themselves. Go to the gym and do what you need to do to accomplish your personal goals. Anything foolish will only risk injury and ultimately get you nowhere.

Fail #2 – Relaxing instead of training like a machine

Some gym-goers show up just to chill. Maybe they had a tough day at the office, lack sleep or are generally stressed. They may see the gym as a resting spot sitting on machines staring into space, or the TV or 50 times at their phone. The point being is that they don’t feel like being there and inadvertently waste a lot of time.

View the gym as your chance to improve on yourself. Think about this: Very few people in the world have the opportunity to go to work all day and then head to the gym. In fact, many would kill to have that option. Don’t take the gym for granted. This is your chance each and every day to make change in the right direction.

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Fail #3 – Hooking up instead of hitting PRs

When I see guys hitting on women at my local gym I mentally shake my head and laugh a little. There are some in this world who treat the gym like a bar. They want to meet women and talk their heads off. News flash: women are there to workout, not meet you. I know it’s hard to believe because you’re such a catch. I mean, who wouldn’t want to date you right?

Do women a favor and let them be. Sure, be friendly but don’t make it your mission to seek out that hottie by the dumbbell rack and get her number. If they want to go any further than a simple hello they will. They don’t need your constant gawking and stares – you’ll just scare them away you big oaf.

Fail #4 – Catching up on social and stretching out your workout

Did you miss a text? What about any new Facebook posts? New tweets? Anything new on Instagram? What about Snapchat? Youtube? Need I go on? Are you the type who gets pounded by notifications? Can’t stop checking? Hearing all those bings, chirps and dings is distracting to say the least.

Ask yourself, do you really need to stay up with all that? What about during your workout? If you feel the need to stay constantly notified then you don’t want to train badly enough. Furthermore, if you are always checking your phone in the gym then you aren’t working all that hard to begin with. Keep your phone out of the gym. You’ll do yourself and others a favor.

Fail #5 – Dialing it up from one to ten

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You like to think you train hard. You’re no stranger to intense workouts. Heck, you even watched a Youtube video about training before you showed up so this day you’ve decided to jack up the intensity to an 11. You proceed to skip your warm-up and attack the heavy weight. Grunts, groans and the occasional scream commence. You’re an animal.

Going from docile little fawn to barbaric warrior beast in one day is not only a bad move for so many reasons it also puts you in harm’s way regarding getting injured. Increasing your intensity to attack a workout is fine but going from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde is not a good choice. Gradually increase intensity over days, weeks and months. Give your body time to adjust and recover properly.

Fail #6 – Becoming a self-proclaimed mentor

Are you the type who dispenses unsolicited advice to the newbie? Do you consistently school kids about how to squat and bench properly and continue to talk about how awesome you are? Sorry to break it to you but the advice you give away for free (yes, you feel they really should pay you for your knowledge) isn’t requested or even welcome when done in a selfish way.

If you feel the need to approach someone regarding terrible form or they are about to hurt themselves do it in a tactful, respectful manner without intimidation or bragging. Say things like, “Hey, do you mind if I show you a way to do that that will make it more effective?” Or you can go with, “Mind if I share something about that that I’ve found worked great for me?”

Fail #7 – Acting timid about real training

You’ve seen those deer-like individuals that tread lightly around free weights and act as if they are performing infinite warm-up sets. They never venture to the deep end and prefer to stay in the shallows due to the fear of lifting anything of significance. Lighter is safer and they won’t take the risk of embarrassing themselves.

If your goal is to gain any amount of muscle or strength then you will need to ramp up your training. Put some weight on the bar, do butt to ankle squats and focus on stretching and squeezing every rep you do. Those are just a few examples of what it will take to get to your goal. Don’t regret your time in the gym, take advantage of it, seek out what you need to do and push yourself beyond your limits.

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Fail #8 – Being like a self-important jerk

Monopolizing equipment, taking countless selfies and not giving anyone else their due respect in the gym are just some of the bad habits of being too self-important. Not giving anyone else the time of day because you’re too busy with your plans to take over the world isn’t practicing good gym etiquette.

We are all proverbial roommates in the gym paying rent. Let’s learn to get along, offer a helping hand and cultivate community once again. No one likes a self-centered attention hog willing to upset anyone they please in an attempt to make their workouts that much more perfect. Community was once a regular thing in gyms, now everyone seems to either be wearing headphones or checking their status on social all the while being anti-social. Ironic, really.

Fail #9 – Trying too hard to be Mr. Functional

Okay, we’ve all seen this guy. He struts in coming from one of those shoe box gyms where Olympic lifts are mutilated under sketchy programming. They thump their chest and then proceed to bash anything remotely related to bodybuilding type training and go into painstaking pretentious detail about how functional training is all you need in life. If you aren’t timing your lifts or swinging on the pull-up bar then you aren’t really training.

News flash, since everyone can have differing goals their training has to follow suit. Why would someone who wants to compete in a power lifting meet, for example, undergo a functional training program full of tire flips, sledge hammer swings and sprints? Let everyone do what they want to do. If you’re a functional trainer train that way. But don’t feel obligated to let everyone else know why you’re superior. Keep it to yourself.

Fail #10 – Holding meetings

Do you got to the gym to meet up? Are you there to get with your boys and shoot the bull for half an hour bellied up to the smoothie bar exchanging stories about your day, talking about the latest super pre-workout powder or just scoping out the girls as they walk in?

If you’re there to simply hang out then you’re only wasting your time and taking up space. Others would like to use the bench that you laid your gym bag, cell phone and shaker bottle on while you watch workout videos or check Instagram. Respect others and use the gym for what it was meant for. Yes, meet up with your training partners but keep the conversation light and get to work.

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Name: Brad Borland

Bio: Starting out as a scrawny 125 pound kid at 6’ 2” I took up weight training at the tender age of 14 and ended up a 220 pound competitive drug-free, natural bodybuilder several years later. Now armed with both knowledge and muscle I have helped countless individuals domestically and abroad.