Are you a keen gym-goer? Feel like you know the difference between an RDL and an SLDL but still not seeing results? Make sure you're not making any of these mistakes.
1. Copying what other people are doing
This includes copying what you see on Instagram/YouTube. People at the gym can be known to perform all sorts of crazy and dangerous exercises, or just perform exercises with terrible form. Don't develop bad habits by copying others as they could be making a lot of mistakes and you'll end up making them too.
Do your research properly and speak to a professional if you're not sure. Always get a second opinion and make sure you separate fact from fiction.
2. Going too fast
Seeing results at the gym is all about time under tension. If you perform your reps too fast, you won't achieve maximum return on your efforts and you could exhaust yourself. Not only this, if you go too fast you are more likely to be doing the exercise with bad form.
Take your time and always control the movement as much as possible. Special reps such as pause reps and timed reps can be excellent for getting more out of the exercise. Slow it down and focus on technique.
3. Doing cardio first
There is an ever-lasting debate surrounding the order in which you should do cardio and weight training. Some people argue that doing cardio first will kick-start your body's fat-burning system and that you'll burn more fat during your session. However, the bottom line is that if you spend half an hour sprinting on a treadmill at the start of your session, it will tire you out. As a result, your form and technique on the free weights will suffer hugely and you could end up getting injured.
Never do cardio before lifting weights. Do the big compound lifts such as squat, deadlift, and bench press at the beginning of your session when you are at your freshest and then move on to the accessory exercises. This is the best order in which to train. If you do want to do cardio, save it until the end of the session.
4. Texting between sets
Your rest periods are just as important as the time you spend actually lifting the weights. Time your rest so that you're not resting too long, and don't get distracted in between sets by texting!
The amount of rest you need between sets depends on how many reps you're doing and how heavy you're lifting. If you're lifting heavy and performing low reps (1-3), you need up to 5 minutes of rest between each set. However, if you're doing hypertrophy and therefore doing fairly light weights at 8-12 reps, you only need 30-60 seconds rest between each set. This time will go quickly! Make sure to time your rest and don't rest too long.
5. Spending half your session chatting
For some people, going to the gym is one of the only times they get to socialise outside of work and as such can be a great stress-reliever and social activity. However, if you are serious about seeing results and are getting frustrated about why you're not progressing, it could be because you're spending so long chatting.
Try to avoid getting distracted during your session by planning it out in advance and knowing exactly what exercises you should be doing, how many reps, what weight etc. If people do want to chat to you, keep it brief and remind them that you need to do your next set.
6. Increasing the weight before you're ready
It may seem like the girl in the corner is watching you and judging how heavy you can lift, but she's really not. You will get a lot more respect for doing the exercises with perfect form than you will for lifting too heavy and not being able to do it properly.
If you can't squat below parallel, you need to go back to a lighter weight and work on your form before you increase the weight. No one likes a half rep! Have patience and remember that this is about you, not what anyone else thinks of you.
7. Not making the most of the gym staff's knowledge
Every gym will have fitness instructors and personal trainers that are brimming with knowledge and just waiting for someone who they can inspire. Most PTs will offer a free taster session so make the most of this and ask them lots of questions. The gym can seem like a daunting place at times, but don't be afraid to speak to the staff, they are there to help.
8. Making excuses
If you can't squat deep because you have 'bad knees', don't squat at all. There are lots of other leg exercises out there that you can do safely and will get you better results. If you find yourself making excuses, you are doing something wrong.
When you're trying to lose weight, not seeing results can be very frustrating. These three fitness mistakes are making you gain weight.
1. Using food replacement supplements
We've all been tempted by them at one time in our lives. There are so many on the market, from Slim Fast to Herbalife, it seems like there's a quick fix and we want to take it. However, food replacement supplements are the worst thing you can take in your efforts to lose weight. Not only are they bad for your bank balance, they're bad for your waist line. Food replacement supplements work on the logic that if you are restricting your calories, you will lose weight. While this is completely true, the shakes and bars that you consume on these diets are full of sugar and lack essential nutrients which will leave you feeling tired, moody, and can even give you bad skin.
It is always better to get your calories and nutrients from real food, only taking supplements if you really need to on top of an already balanced diet. By reducing your calories from real food, you can easily lose weight without suffering from mood swings and having to buy expensive supplements.
2. Not tracking your food intake
We can all be guilty of being 'secret eaters'. At the end of each day, if you were to try to remember every single thing you ate that day it would be almost impossible. There will always be one biscuit or cake that slips through the net that you forget about. It's also easy to make excuses for yourself in order to eat more than you realise, such as "I have a cold" or "it was my co-worker's birthday". Your portions may be a lot bigger than you realise unless you weigh your food. By tracking your food as you eat it and weighing your food, you are taking the guess work out of losing weight and you are far more likely to succeed.
Let's take oven chips (french fries) as an example. Next time you put your favourite oven chips onto the tray, weigh them before they go into the oven. Chances are, it'll be two or even three times as much as is recommended. This happens easily and frequently and is definitely a reason you're not losing weight. Weighing your food may seem a bit neurotic and take a lot of effort, but it doesn't take long and will be worth it in the long run. Below is what 200 calories of oven chips looks like on a small plate. It's not much! And these are fairly skinny fries, if you enjoy those big chunky oven chips you'll end up with only around 10 on your plate!
3. Drinking too much alcohol at the weekend
For a lot of people, being healthy ends on Friday. We want to relax after a long week at work and rightly so! We go out for dinner and drinks and forget about all our stresses, but this is when you'll end up undoing all your hard work from the week. Alcoholic drinks are full of sugar and calories and by knocking back a few glasses of wine, pints of beer, and pitchers of cocktails, you will be consuming a lot more calories and sugar than you realise.
You probably wouldn't eat 3 cheeseburgers in one sitting, but you wouldn't think twice about drinking 6 beers on a night out. Try to limit how much you drink on the weekend, and limit dining out and takeaways to just one per weekend. This may seem stingy, but if you are truly committed to losing weight and getting healthier, it's a compromise you'll be willing to make.
When you talk to people about powerlifting, they often confuse it with Olympic weightlifting or even bodybuilding. We take a look at this often overlooked sport and debunk some of the confusion surrounding it.
What is powerlifting training?
Powerlifting is a sport consisting of three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The goal of the sport is to lift as much weight as possible across the three lifts while following all the rules.
Powerlifting differs to Olympic weightlifting (or Oly lifting as it is sometimes called) in many ways and the two are completely different sports. In Olympic weight lifting, there are two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. For both these lifts, the weights end up above the athlete's head and a lot of skill and technique is needed to succeed. In powerlifting, it is more about brute strength and there is far less technique involved. Bodybuilding, on the other hand, differs yet again as this is all about sculpting the body and the muscles. Bodybuilders often do not have much strength at all as this sport is all about aesthetics and not about power or strength. Powerlifters may end up with big muscles as a result of training but it is not the primary focus, and many powerlifters do not look classically 'athletic'.
Benefits of powerlifting training
Apart from gaining strength, there are many benefits of powerlifting. Lifting heavy weights increases bone density which in turn reduces the risk of developing brittle bones and osteoporosis later in life. It also works every muscle group in the body in compound moves which improves co-ordination and develops the large muscle groups better than isolating exercises. Increasing muscle density also burns more fat at rest and so you end up losing weight without even trying. Being stronger overall will reduce the risk of injury in other sports like running and cycling and translates well to other aspects of life like walking up stairs or hiking, for example.
Is power lifting an Olympic sport?
Powerlifting is not an Olympic sport and is often confused with Olympic weightlifting, which does feature in the games. However, powerlifting does feature in the Paralympic games. In the Paralympics, powerlifters only complete the bench press discipline, which is considered the ultimate test of upper body strength. Some athletes are able to press more than three times their body weight which is incredible impressive.
It is open to male and female athletes with the following eight eligible physical impairments:
- impaired muscle power
- impaired passive range of movement
- limb deficiency
- leg length difference
- short stature
- hypertonia (a condition in which there is too much muscle tone so that arms or legs, for example, are stiff and difficult to move)
- ataxia (a term for a group of disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech)
- athetosis (a condition in which abnormal muscle contraction causes involuntary writhing movements)
A range of physical disabilities, including Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord injuries, Lower Limb Amputation, and poliomyelitis, also meet the current minimal eligibility criteria and athletes with these conditions can compete, safely and appropriately, according to the World Para Powerlifting rules. All eligible athletes compete in one sport class, but in different weight categories.
The bench press is the sport’s single discipline, with 10 different categories based on body weight. Competitors must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless on the chest and then press it upwards to arms length with locked elbows. Athletes are given three attempts and the winner is the athlete who lifts the highest number of kilograms.
How do powerlifting competitions work?
Anyone can enter a local or regional powerlifting competition. In order to qualify for a national or world competition, you need to achieve a certain total in your age and weight category. There are different powerlifting federations across the country and the world and these feature different weight categories. The overall governing body for powerlifting is the IPF.
Results are based on what's called the Wilks score, which takes into account body weight as well as weight lifted, to make for a fairer result, as someone with a heavier bodyweight will generally be able to lift heavier than someone who is lighter/smaller.
Being short is often an advantage in powerlifting as it means your levers (arms and legs) are shorter so you have less distance to move the weights. A higher body fat percentage also has this effect, but you need to find the right balance as a higher body fat percentage will also leave you with a higher body weight and therefore a disadvantage against lighter but stronger lifers.
There are two types of powerlifting: equipped and non-equipped (often referred to as 'raw' powerlifting.) In equipped powerlifting, lifters wear extremely tight body suits and lifting shirts as well as knee wraps and wrist wraps. This limits movement but also aids in the lifts dramatically. As a result, you are only allowed to wear wraps and lifting suits/shirts for specifically equipped competitions. For unequipped competitions, you are still allowed to wear knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and a lifting belt, but they must be a certain approved type. Some federations do not even allow knee sleeves so you must check the rules before you compete. Belts are actually encouraged during all powerlifting events as they protect your back and reduce the risk of injury when lifting extremely heavy weights.