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MORE things to never do in the gym if results are your thing

This is a piggyback from a post I made a few months back, which was intended to educate, or at least cause people to re-evaluate how they spend their beloved gym time. Check out the first part of this sequel if you haven’t already…….

(Things you really shouldn’t do in the gym if results are your thing)

Let’s kick off this second edition!

1) ZERO warm ups. 

Just walking straight in and jumping on the preacher bench with a 3 rep max weight on the bar. This is as foolish as it is common. I get it, warming up is long and can be tedious, but it’s mandatory. Conduct your own experiment, do a heavy/near maximal set of 3, 5, 8……whatever with no priming at all. No light cardio, no dynamic stretches and no lighter rehearsal/warm up sets. Then do the same with one or two lighter, sensible warm up sets. I guarantee the latter will feel better. Hold me to it.

If your warm up sets leave you feeling like poop, it’s likely due to you doing too many reps and not resting enough between sets. Remember: Fatigue is the enemy of strength and performance.

(Recommended reading: So, is the ‘warm up’ that hot of a topic?)

2) Failing to maintain continuous tension.

This is where I can have some fun and banter by going up to an individual and asking, “Oh, you’re doing rest pause training? How comes? Where did you hear about that ‘secret’?” To which they look confused and slightly proud, thinking they’re one step ahead of the game with their advanced rest pause strategy.

Of course the reality is they’ve never even heard of real rest pause training, and, truth be told, have NO business whatsoever attempting to use it!

What’s really going on here is a combination of laziness and/or using excessive weight. Where you rest in the easiest position of a movement for 3 to 5 – sometimes 10 seconds! Between each rep. Picture the guy using the whole stack on a lat pulldown, taking a breather each rep with his shoulders grazing his ears. Or the guy doing curls with his shoulders and elbows up so high his traps are letting the biceps chill between ‘reps’.

(Image via

This is doing serious harm to your muscle gain……or ‘DEM GAINZZZZ!’ By doing this you’re eradicating a key mechanism of muscle growth; metabolic stress. Of course constant reps are harder. I hate to break it to you, but it should be hard. Adaptation doesn’t fall in your lap, you force it.

Maintain a constant repetition tempo. Not a specific number count – that’s completely overrated and unnecessary. Just be in control and aim to lift through the positive/concentric phase with as much speed and force as possible. If you can’t do this, lighten the weight.

NEWSFLASH: Nobody cares AT ALL how much you use on a lat pulldown.

3) Being ignorant to an exercises’ correct range of motion. 

This is in someways connected to points raised above. And we’ll be using the good old lat pulldown as some of our primary examples. That movement is down as my all time most butchered exercise around. Agree? Thankyou.

How many people have you seen pull the handle down so far their elbows flare way back and the handle ends up at their bellybutton? So the movement becomes a lat pulldown into a tricep pressdown, all in one. Now that might be your goal, although I’m almost adamant, if I asked anyone doing this they’d say……”triceps?! No I done those yesterday.”

With the lat pulldown, you want to drive the handle down as far as your mobility allows with your elbows staying vertical. This is usually around the upper sternum region.

For other examples, think of the girl using the leg press who ends up with her chin between her knees at the bottom. This is too deep. Tension has been long lost through the glutes and quadriceps. The spine is unwillingly picking up the slack.

Another newsflash: The lumbar spine doesn’t like a great deal of flexion – especially loaded flexion.


If those examples aren’t adequate to illustrate my point, think Romanian deadlifts. The guy who lowers the bar/dumbbells all the way to the floor whilst considerably flexing at the knee and, yet again, that lumbar spine.

(Image courtesy of

Go as far as the target muscles (Hamstrings and Glutes) are on stretch. Not other muscles. This stuff is easier with experience, or even a little guidance (trainers). Master this and you’ll be able to dictate where you place tension and what muscles you ‘feel’.

4) Disrespecting the rest periods. 

I’m beginning to sound like a rest period nazi. I’ve written exclusively about this before, but it bears repeating: your rest periods dictate the training effect. I’m not even promoting ultra low rest periods that turn your lifting session into a mini aerobics class, because you’re forced to use such puny loads due to the lack of recuperation.

Just standardize rest intervals. For quality work, I find anywhere in the neighborhood of 90 seconds to 3 minutes is good for compound movements. And 45 seconds to 2 minutes (max) for isolation movements.

Be the purple cow that Seth Godin wrote about. The one who stands out and does what most don’t and get results that most don’t. A profitable equation.


Four more training errors covered. A list no way exhaustive and with more to come soon. Maybe one day we can engineer a cool ‘top 100’ list of training fails. 

Sound good?

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

14 thoughts on “MORE things to never do in the gym if results are your thing Leave a comment

  1. Really great post! I especially liked the part about the importance of warming up! I think so many people can forget how easy it is to injure yourself in the gym! Thanks for all the tips :)x

    • Hey! Pleased to be of service 🙂 Warming up is never sexy, but I know even anecdotally it makes a considerable difference. Thanks for getting in touch, pleased you like the tips. I have many many more gym fails/sins coming…….haha

  2. Love this. Very informative. I just started with weights and I love it. I want to get the most out of each workout and this cleared some concerns I had. Especially with ‘resting between sets’.

    • Hey! Thanks very much for the positive feedback! Using the weights will take you wherever you want to go. Do you have any favourite movements yet?

      Rest period allocation/adherence is VERY rare. But it’s a big factor. All the greats new this and manipulated it to get the desired result. You can ‘wing it’ to some degree, but when you’re seriously tired, you’ll always subconsciously rest longer than needed.

      • Anything I do for back exercises I love. Also shoulders. I have always been weakest in those areas so I enjoy the burn. Lol. I can’t do much weight at ALL but I love dumbbell shoulder press, lat pull down and one arm dumbbell row. I like leg workouts but they’re the toughest for me. It’s like cardio and muscle burn in one.

      • Women tend to have higher leg training tolerance than men generally, maybe that’s because they pride themselves on their lower bodies, haha. Shoulder pressing with dumbbells/barbells is also my weakness :/ my bench press is nearly twice my overhead press for a 1RM. You should keep training that back of yours till you can do a pull-up! The pull-up is the king of all exercises IMO 😉

      • Oh sheez. Yeah, a friend of mine was telling me the same thing! That’s a good goal to have. That’s one of the biggest reasons I’m getting back into fitness. I want to be strong, have endurance and be able to do things athletically! So we shall see…

      • Oh for sure! A female doing a full pull-up is RARE. BUT…….it’s perfectly possible and seriously impressive! As long as you’re improving, you’re bound for success. Sprinting is another great, athletic movement 🙂

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