1. Warming up: Is warming up fun or interesting? No. Is it important? Yes. Warming up can make a hoooge difference in avoiding injury, lifting better and lifting heavier. Take at least 5-10 minutes to warm up.
Your warm up shouldn’t be on a treadmill or a few stretches in the corner. Click Here to learn how to warm up correctly.
2. Wearing a belt: I see this all the time when I go to gyms in Dublin. Lads wear belts for every single exercise they do. Wearing a belt to do EVERYTHING will make your back and abs weak. The only time you should wear a belt is when you’re going out or when you are about to squat or deadlift something very heavy for low reps.
3. Training diary: Keep a training diary! I write my programs in 4 week blocks and fill them in at each training session. This way I know what I did last week, know what I have to beat this week and know that I’m progressing every week or month.
4. Gloves: Not only do lifting gloves look stupid but they stop your hands from developing calluses. Calluses grow for a reason. Wear them like a badge of honour as only strong people who lift heavy things have them. Gloves also affect the way your grip works. Because you have this big sanitary pad in your hand, you don’t use stabilising muscles in your shoulders and your grip doesn’t work like it should.
5. Perform big lifts: Go to the gym and lift some big weights. Regardless of your goal you should be performing some of these exercises at the start or in the middle of your training; squats, deadlifts, chin ups, rows, bench, presses, good mornings, dips, high pulls, snatches, cleans.
PS Don’t be stupid like crossfit and perform your technical lifts at the end when you’re tired and mostly likely to make a mess of them and injure yourself. Power exercises should be first, strength second.
6. Smith machine: DO NOT squat and bench in the smith machine. It will cause injury. Doing these exercises produces unnatural movement patterns. Your stabilising muscles aren’t allowed to work properly, or at all. This makes you suck at the lifts when you do them for real and puts more stress on the other muscles (in a bad way).
7. Partial squatting: Squat properly and go deep! If you haven’t got the mobility yet to go deep then work on it getting the mobility. Start with box squats. If you can squat deep but think you’re cool going heavier and doing something that looks like a squat then you’re wrong!
Squatting deep is actually better for your knees. It allows the hamstrings and glutes to help more with the movement and allows the patella tendon as well as other tendons to work fully by using them through their full ranges of motion.
8. Running shoes: Don’t wear running shoes to squat and deadlift. Running shoes are for runners. Runners are weak! Wear flat shoes such as Converse or go barefoot. This will help you lift better and not mess up the mechanics of these lifts.
9. Post training food: The most important meal of the day is not breakfast (even though Kellogg’s and coco pops might tell you different). It’s post training. No matter what your goal is consume some protein after training.
10. Get accountable: If your training sucks then you either don’t know what you’re doing, don’t care, or you’re not accountable. Find someone or something to be accountable to. This could be your partner, coach, personal trainer, friend or Facebook. If you’re accountable you will get results. It’s human nature.