3 Things You’re Doing Wrong at the Gym

The anatomy of the body is complex. You should not just throw it around and twist it any way you see fit. Moving improperly can be dangerous and actually defeat your efforts at exercise completely, making your gym a pointless waste of time and money. Here are three things people commonly mistake as correct movements.

Lat Pulldown

What I See: Big dudes sitting on the seat and yanking the bar behind their heads. They jerk down a super heavy weight, thinking this is going to make this move better. This failure is incredibly common, partly because it feels like it’s doing something. When performed correctly, this move can strengthen the lats a great deal. (The muscles on the sides of your back.) However, pulling the bar behind you actually has the opposite effect and causes the head to jut forward even more, possibly injuring your neck and ruining your posture. Humpback anyone?

What I Want to See: After you’ve grasped the bar, try to think of this movement in two parts: First, drop the shoulders down away from the ears without bending the elbows. Second, lean back slightly, keeping the abs engaged, your head in line with your spine, then pull the bar to the upper part of the chest near the nipple line, keeping your shoulders back and down. Use a fluid motion, making sure you do not let the weights smack back down, or your body is doing any jerking motion. Start with a lower weight and move up, not the other way around big boys.

Bicep Curl 

What I See: Guys (and ladies) sitting on a bench, curling super heavy weights, leaning left then right to muster it up. They make a struggling face and breathe super hard and think that they will get sexy arms doing this. Wrong! They’re not burning any calories by just sitting there using ONE muscle.

What I Want To See: Turn your bicep curl into a total body exercise. Start in a basic squat with your arms in front of you. As you stand up from the squat, do your curl simultaneously. Squat down, arms down. Stand up, curl up. If you want it more complex, press straight up after you curl to hit your shoulders. Now you are working something!

Gym Wandering

What I See: This is the most annoying one, besides all the bad form and useless bicep curls. Ladies, I’m talking to you. I see ladies start by walking on the treadmill, maybe jogging a little bit, and then continue to walk at 2-4.0mph thinking they’re burning calories because the machine says so. (News Flash: Machines over rate calorie burn an average of 50% more than what you are truly burning!) They then go over to the huge room of machines and do about 5 minutes each on the inner legs, outer legs, chest press, etc. They’re not sweating, they’re not breathing hard, and they’re hardly burning anything. They think they’re getting a workout because they’re using these machines, but honestly, you’re not.

What I Want To See: Stop gym wandering, find a focus, and do it with purpose. If you want a total body workout, give yourself one without those stupid, useless machines. I’m a personal trainer and would never use the sit down machines. Here is an example of a total body workout at the gym: (Something I may do.)

  • 10 Minute Warm-Up on the Stair Climber
    • Interval 80 steps per min for one minute, to 50 spm for 15 sec recovery
  • 5 Intervals of each of the following:
    • 1 minute on, 15 seconds rest
    • (5 minutes on each, and 75 seconds rest total, then go to next exercise)
  • Bicep-Curl to Shoulder Press *one fluid movement*
  • Plie Squat-Hammer Curl *one fluid movement*
  • Dead Lifts with Barbell + Tricep Dips on Bench (Switch each minute)
  • Pull-Ups + Push-Ups on Smith Bench – Switch each minute. (Use the bar at a low setting, get under it for pull-ups, and grasp over it for push-ups)
  • 15 Minutes of Interval Treadmill – 3 minute run, 1 minute jog
  • 5 minute cool down
    • Set the treadmill to 10 incline, Walk on 3.0

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