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Eliminate these Common Bad Habits to Make Great Gains in the Gym

By jbehar at May 17, 2016, 6:31 p.m., 8057 hits

If you’ve been working out for a couple months and you do not see a lot of change in the mirror there’s a good chance that some bad habits may have found its way into your fitness program. By eliminating bad habits from your fitness program, you should be able to jump start you progress once again.

1. Not Performing Sets to Failure

Any good trainer will tell you that the reps that count are the ones that hurt the most. Your body quickly adapts to exercise and resistance training and unless you increase your intensity your gains will slow and eventually come to a standstill. There are many ways you can increase work out intensity. The most common are: increase the weight used, increase the number of repetitions, decrease the rest time between sets, increase the time under tension, increase the number of sets, and/or increase the number of exercises performed.

2. Not Performing the Exercises Correctly

To make the most out of your workout you need to perform the exercise correctly. Too many people swing weights, rather than keeping continued tension on the muscle. Other engage other body parts, rather than focusing on the one they are trying to train (example, using the lats when benching, or using your back when curling). If you want maximum gains, ensure maximum contraction of the muscles you are trying to train.

3. Working in Limited Range of Motion

Use of partial reps, or working in a limited range of motion, can lead not only lead to a limited range of motion (ROM) but studies show it can also reduce strength and increase your chance for injury. To maximize gains in the gym, use full range of motion. Full range of motion results in maximum contractions. Note: partial reps do have their place in bodybuilding, but should only be used by advanced bodybuilders and with caution.

4. Neglecting Movements

Neglecting certain movements and muscle groups (most commonly the core, lower back, hamstrings and glutes) can cause muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances can lead to overuse injuries, such as PCL tears from quad dominance, or lower back injuries from weak core muscles. Injuries will keep you out of the gym, or at least slow you down in the gym, which will certainly slow your gains.

5. Going Too Heavy

For maximum gains in the gym your form needs to be correct, you should be able to “feel the weight” and ensure maximum contraction. If the weight is too heavy and you are unable to perform the movement with good form you will not maximizes your gains in the gym.

6. Spending too Much Time in the Gym

Many people overtrain and undertrain at the same time. What I mean by that is their intensity is lacking because they are taking too long between sets (undertraining), and then they hamper their recovery by spending too much time in the gym which can result in overtraining.

Resistance training releases certain hormones into the bloodstream, such as testosterone, cortisol and dopamine. Going past 60 minutes per workout can put the body into a negative hormonal state for most people. Also, to optimally grow, your body needs fuel. Spending too much time delays recovery. Even worse, if this becomes a habit it can result in serious overtraining, adrenal fatigue and a reduction in performance.

There are many signs of overtraining. Physical symptoms include elevated morning pulse (10 beats more than normal), consistently elevated blood pressure, lack, persistent muscular soreness, increased frequency of common illnesses, like colds, increased incidence of injuries, and decreased appetite and weight loss. The effects from overtraining may not only by physiological. Emotional & Behavioral Symptoms Can Also Occur Such As: Irritability, Mood swings, Insomnia, Depression and Loss of desire to train (or do other things formerly enjoyed).Emotional and behavioral symptoms typically will only occur as a result of chronic (long term) overtraining (weeks to months). This condition is best known as “burnout”." This condition is different from short term overtraining in that post exercise fatigue and emotional swings persist even after recovery periods that are taken.

6. Training Too Frequently

The workout is a small part of the total picture when it comes to making gains. Nutrition and rest (recovery) are equally important. No matter how much you work out, if you do not properly fuel the body and give it time to recover you will NOT make optimally gains. Training too frequently can also result in overtraining (see above)

7. Not Sleeping Enough

Sleep is essential for maximizing gains in the gym. Certain hormones, the most important of which are growth hormone and IGF-1, which help us build muscle and burn fat, are highest when we sleep. Lack of sleep will reduce growth hormone and IGF-1 levels and slow muscle building and fat burning. Lack of sleep also raises cortisol levels which have a negative impact on health and body composition.

9. Talking/Texting Too Much

This goes hand in hand with the earlier comments about the need to keep training intensity high, train quickly and get home to eat and recover. Talking during a workout can ruin your momentum. It can also cause you to cool down lose your “pump”, and actually reduce the metabolic, or fat burning, effect of your workout. If you need a rest, try to stretch between sets or perform an unrelated exercise (like work the abs in between sets of other exercises.

10. Copying Others’ Workouts

Just because a Mr. Olympia suggest a certain “arm-blasting” routine, that does NOT mean that his workout is appropriate for you. This is a great way to possibly hurt yourself. When trying new workouts, listen to your body. Slowly bump up the intensity.


Next time you are heading to the gym, take an honest look at your exercise regimen. Avoid these habits above and watch your progress start to soar.

About the Author Jeff Behar

Jeff Behar, MS, MBA, is a well-known health, fitness, wellness author and anti aging, champion natural bodybuilder (2014 Masters Grand Prix Champion, 2015 California State Masters Champion), and a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert with over 30 years of experience in the health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, and anti-aging fields.

As a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, Jeff Behar's has been featured on several radio shows, TV, and in several popular bodybuilding publications such as Flex, Ironman and in several highly regarded peer reviewed scientific journals. Jeff Behar is also the CEO and founder and and a Medical Commentator on exercise for The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the worlds largest medical academy for anti-aging and regenerative medicine, provides medical professionals with the latest Anti-Aging, regenerative, functional and metabolic medicine.


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