Gym Pro Tips
Inspired by this Reddit post. The following points are snippets of information, known as ‘Gym Pro Tips’ that’ll help you get ahead in the gym.
Gym Pro Tip #1 – Prioritize Your Compound Movements
The 80:20 pareto principle holds true when it comes to transforming your physique.
The biggest strength and size gains will come from 20% of the exercises you’re performing – specifically your barbell back squat, bench press, overhead press and deadlift.
Learn correct form on this handful of exercises and then get as strong as possible at them, don’t be that guy obsessing over set and sets of light weight biceps curls in a desperate attempt to add another inch to your biceps… when you’re able to deadlift 2x your bodyweight, 1.5x your squat, 1.25x your bench and 1x your overhead press you’ll never have to worry about the size of your biceps again. Muscle is a by-product of strength.
Gym Pro Tip #2 – Don’t Waste Your Money On Supplements When You’re Not Eating Properly
Supplements, even when coupled with a solid diet are questionable as to whether the miniscule benefits experienced from them are worth the ridiculous cost.
Ensure your diet is optimized for you before you even consider investing in supplements.
If you’re looking to build muscle mass, ensure your body is in a caloric surplus, eating meat, grains and greens – don’t go straight for the weight gainer powders in your local supplement store… if you want to put on meat you need to eat meat.
At the same time, if fat loss is your goal you must first ensure your body is in a caloric deficit (eating less calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current state on a 24 hour basis) before thinking about using any form of fat burner supplements, as a calorie deficit is the ONLY way to ensure fat loss, a fat burner is used to speed up the rate at which your body expends calories in order to place your body further into this deficit.
Gym Pro Tip #3 – Don’t Overcommit To A Routine
Commit yourself to a workout routine you know is manageable given your schedule. Following Dwayne Johnson’s 7 day workout routine when you know you’ll probably only make it to the gym 3 times per week for 45 minutes is a bad decision. We often overestimate our willpower, and missing half of your routine will eventually spiral into you missing your entire regime…
From my experience it’s far better to follow a regime that may not contain as many training days or as high volume but ensuring you show up for every single workout, whether this be 3, 4 or 5 days per week.
Consistency in the gym, with your diets, in your business and relationships… consistency is key!
Gym Pro Tip #4 – Master Bodyweight Movements By Using Exercise Progressions
Bodyweight exercises have a ton of benefits – they’re easy on the joints, build immense core strength and control over your physique, build functional strength and muscle and are quite fun to learn to master after spending a prolonged period of time under the barbell!
Whether you want to learn the one arm push-up, the one arm pull-up, the front lever, windows wipers… regardless of what bodyweight exercise you want to learn it’s important to start with progressions of the exercise based off of your current skill and strength level.
You will never master the one arm push-up without making your way through the one-arm push-up progressions first.
It’s not until I took my time to focus on my pull-ups, dips, performing movements on-top of the pull-up bar and focus on my wrist movements that I was able to conquer the muscle-up. Just practising the muscle-up itself had me frustrated for months! Once I focused on progressions and the pre-requisite exercises I was able to break it down and master them individually before putting it all together and repping out the muscle-up!
Gym Pro Tip #5 – Run Your Headphone Cord Under Your Shirt
This may seem like common sense but the majority of people don’t do it.
Run your headphone cords from your pocket under your shirt and out of the neck of your shirt, this ensures you won’t have cables swaying around in your way when you’re performing heavy lifts or performing intense interval training.
There’s a plethora of different bluetooth and wireless earphones and headphones out there but I’ve personally found them to be less durable and more trouble than their worth (which results in me spending valuable time mid-workout trying to get them to work properly).
Run your headphone cord under your shirt, put on your gym playlist and get to work – no messing around.
Gym Pro Tip #6 – Wear Flat Shoes On Leg Day
It’s near impossible to squat in running shoes correctly – your range of motion will be compromised and your heel will most likely be coming off the ground.
There’s CrossFit and olympic lifting shoes out there that assist in performing these lifts correctly with the assistance of a slight heel and ankle support in the shoes, however the cost and amount of time you’ll be using the shoes can quite often not be justified.
Instead of forking out your hard earned money for a new pair of shoes just for squatting and deadlifting etc. opt to wear a flat pair of shoes instead. The Converse All Star has been a favourite for bodybuilders and gym goers for a long, long time for good reason too. They’re cheap, they look good and they’re fantastic to squat in.
Squatting in flat shoes such as the Converse All Star ensures you’re able to get a full range of motion while keeping your heel planted on the ground.
Gym Pro Tip #7 – Set The Bar Low On The Squat Rack To Avoid Overbalancing
When you’re setting up the barbell in your squat rack or power cage before un-racking the bar at height (for exercises such as the back squat, front squat or military press) ensure you’re not setting the bar at a level that’s too heigh for you.
Opt to set the barbell down a notch, as if you’re struggling to unrack the weight from height and stumble while on your tippy toes you’re going to be in for a world of pain and embarrassment.
It’s safer and easier to set the barbell slightly lower and squat down to unrack it than to overextend and risk injury.
Gym Pro Tip #8 – Know How To Bail Out Of A Set To Increase Confidence Under The Bar
When you don’t have a spotter it can be a struggle to push yourself to your limits and beyond in order to induce progressive overload on exercises such as the squat and bench press… although you’re pushing yourself subconsciously you won’t leave it all there and give it your all as you know you’re on your own in the case of failing on one of your repetitions…
The safety rails on your squat rack or power cage are there for a reason, and they work well too!
You may know the height to set the rails to in case you need to bail out of your set, but have you actually bailed out of a set before? I recommend doing this.
Once you’ve got some decent weight on the bar practise safely unloaded it onto the rails a few times. This’ll build confidence as now you know the worst case scenario when you’re gunning it for that last rep… you’ll manoeuvre the bar onto the rails… it’ll make a little bit of noise and you’re out of your set safe and sound having pushed yourself to failure.
Gym Pro Tip #9 – Shoulders Down & Back
When performing lat pull-downs, pull-ups or getting under a heavy barbell for your flat bench press it’s imperative your shoulders are positioned down and back. On pulling movements such as the pull-up and pull-down this ensures you’re contracting the targeted muscle groups correctly while maintaining good form.
This squeezing of the scapula while on the flat bench assists you getting into the right position to unrack the barbell and start repping.
The easiest way to practise and ensure you’re positioning your shoulders correctly is to:
- Shrug your shoulders up as high as you can (to your ears)
- Push your shoulders as far back as possible while still maintaining the height from step 1
- Now push your shoulders down as far as possible
- That’s the position! Down and back – replicate this on your pulling movements and when setting yourself up on the bench press.
Gym Pro Tip #10 – Strip Weights Off A Barbell Quickly With A 2.5lb Plate
Sick of having to lift your barbell to unload all of those 45lb plates from your deadlift? Place a 2.5lb plate under the inside weight plate and effortlessly slide them off, this is super quick and easy yet I rarely see anyone do it!