In the gym I see a lot of people training half-heartedly. They will come in the gym, put the treadmill on 3mph and walk steadily along whilst listening to their ipod, watching TV on the monitor or reading a magazine.
This is also a trait not exclusive to cardio trainers. I will also see people in the weights room picking up some pathetically small dumbbells, pumping out 12 reps without breaking a sweat, sitting around for 5 minutes then repeating this pathetic display of lifting. The thing is though, although this is a problem that needs to be addressed, there is an opposing problem that I feel may be even more of a risk.
The people I am talking about are not the ones who go to the gym and barely try at all, but the ones who go in the gym and seriously overdo it. The one good thing about not trying very hard in the gym is there is very little to no chance of hurting yourself. However if you get carried away with training and go at it too hard here is a great risk of doing yourself some damage, whether that be in the long term or immediately.
The main things I see with people just training too hard are things like:
Training for too long –
Some people will spend hours in the gym. I never realized until I started working in a gym as a PT but you get guys (and sometimes women) that will stay in the gym for 3 hours at a time, training their full bodies, nearly every day.
Lifting weights that are too heavy –
There are a couple of reasons for this occurring. Usually its an ego problem. Guys especially like to look stronger than they really are so attempt to pick up weights that there is no way they can perform proper reps with. The other reason is that someone just doesn’t know correct style. A woman I stopped this morning was squatting on the smith machine with 100kg. that is a very impressive weight under any circumstances but her range of movement was very small. I dropped it down to 50kg and had her doing full range and she found it far more beneficial.
Training body parts too regularly -
With weight training especially a large problem is that people will train their favourite body parts overly regularly as they want them to grow.
So here are my 3 tips to avoid making these simple mistakes.
Set yourself a time limit in the gym. 90 minutes is more than adequate to complete any training routine. The longer you stay in the gym the more time you are catabolic. This means that you will start to breakdown muscle and release cortisol which will stop the fat burning process. You need nutrients to help the muscles grown and if you train for too long without them you will do more harm than good. If you have a lot to train and are keen to burn fat then simply raise the intensity. Shorter rest periods and higher intensity cardio will allow you to burn just as many calories in half the time.
Allow for adequate time to achieve your goals in regards to strength and weights you wish to lift. There is no point saying I want to add 20kg to my bench press and giving yourself 2 weeks to do it. All that will happen is that your style will go out the window in the pointless attempt to achieve this goal. Give yourself reasonable goals so that natural adaptation and correct training will make the strength increases, not a slip in form. Also ask a spotter or training partner to assess your technique every once in a while. If it isn’t perfect then suck up your pride and drop the weight.
Stick to a weekly body part split. Write down what days you are training each muscle group and stick to it. If your chest is trained on a Wednesday then train it on a Wednesday. If it feel ok again on Saturday don’t train it again. Your chest still gets worked when doing shoulders and maybe on tricep day. Unless your routine is designed to account for 2 days training for each bodypart then don’t get carried away on your favourite parts. Stick to a plan.
So these are my 3 tips of the day. Stick to them and avoid the problems of overtraining.