My bubbly extrovert personality has me very happily working out at home the last couple of years. I love it, I have just the right amount of equipment and no one is ever on the equipment I want to use.

Before my critical tirade, I commend anyone that manages to get up the gumption to get to the gym. There was a long time where I couldn't muster up that kind of motivation. And anyone that shows up in a given week is doing better than the folks that don't even make an attempt.

Gym Fouls

I had the occasion to use a gym at a hotel on a recent trip and it reminded me of other reasons why I like to workout without people around.

Reading

The gym is not for reading. Alright, maybe on the treadmill but you should only use the treadmill if you need to get out of the house and you're entire body is already sore from resistance training.

Training is a good time to focus on the movement you're doing and to let your brain go on auto-pilot for a while. Really this is a good thing for your brain and creativity. Humans suck at multi-tasking, when you're reading while training you are training crappy and you're reading crappy.

Martial Arts

You're getting your pump on, mirrors are everywhere and there are women in the gym. What better time to whip on some next level kung-fu shit. I really don't need to make an argument against this just, no, please no.

Not Squatting in the Squat Rack

Squat racks are for squatting. Squats are the most important exercise a person can do.

The actual reason I quit going to my gym is because a guy was curling in the squat rack. This is really bad. But it gets worse, he was curling chains in the squat rack. Chains make sense if you are a geared power lifter and you want to load the lock-out of your bench or the top of your squat. Chains are not for curling especially in the squat rack.

Combo Moves

So you know about lunges. And you know about pressing 2 pound purple dumbells overhead. Obviously the combination of the two would be doubly beneficial. Yeah, the best exercises are the ones that aren't very creative.

Ridiculous Movement

Exercise machines are sub-optimal for whatever your fitness goals are but they're easy. Your butt goes on the seat, your hands go on the handles and then you exert in some prescribed manor. So usually you don't see nonsensical movement on exercise machines.

You normally see this with dumbells. But if the weight isn't moving in something that looks perpendicular to the surface of the Earth then you are probably doing things wrong.

A variation of this is the deal where you put 1 dumbells in each hand and then lean over to one side or the other. This is silly, you are providing counter weight, the most value you are getting out of this is just your traps and core supporting weight.

You probably mean to do either a farmers walk or weighted side bends. Those are both good things to do.

Not Having a Plan

This is what I see, someone stumbles into the gym. You see them look around surprised like they were just tele-ported to that location. Next they'll realise they should probably do something since they are there. Sometimes they'll just start reading (see above). But hopefully they decide to do resistance training.

You might see some inner conflict but usually this ends up ending up with "I should do some curls".

Solution

It'd be un-cool if I pointed out the wrong things people were doing and didn't provide any good things you could do in the gym.

Established Routines

StrongLifts is a legit program to start out with. Starting Strength is more popular and highly regarded.

If you don't know how to do the exercises look on YouTube for Mark Rippetoe or go to exrx.net

This is Starting Strength.

Workout A

exercise | sets | reps
---------|------|-----
squat    | 3    | 5
bench    | 3    | 5
deadlift | 1    | 5 

Workout B

exercise    | sets | reps
------------|------|-----
squat       | 3    | 5
press       | 3    | 5
power clean | 5    | 3 

Snowflake

If you're a special snowflake and Starting Strength is too restrictive then just split workouts in some sensible fashion:

  • push/ pull/ legs
  • vertical / horizontal / legs

With this guidance:

  • 3 to 5 workouts in a week
  • 3 to 5 exercises in a workout
  • 3 to 5 sets
  • 5 to 10 reps per set (lower reps are for strength, more reps are for size)
  • prefer multi-joint movements and put them at the start of the workout
  • single-joint (if any) movements at the end of the workout
  • fucking never skip leg day in the name of all that is holy
  • you should squat and your femur should go below parallel when you squat
  • track your progress on the multi-joint movements you're doing (press, deadlift, bench, squat)
  • start the weights very low low
  • increase the weights on at least one exercise by 5 pounds each week
  • keep showing up