– and what to do instead…
Isolation exercises work only one muscle or muscle group and only one joint at a time. It is not wrong to do specific isolated exercises such as the biceps curl or the quadriceps extension performed with dumbbells or the commercial weight machines found in health clubs. However, the isolation exercises will not transform your body, not at all. Isolation exercises are often recommended to correct muscle imbalance or weakness that often occurs after an injury but you can easily be without the isolation exercises. If you want a strong and defined body, isolation exercises are not the way forward.
Instead: Focus on functional fitness – large, compound exercises which are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. Compound exercises means more calories burned during exercise, allowing you to lift heavier loads, to build more strength and to get a full body workout faster. If you are interested in getting a complete, efficient and functional workout – doing compound exercises during your training is ideal.
Rest between machine exercises
It is not severely wrong to use weight machines. The machines can help you working on a specific muscle group or if you want to finish off with a few maximum strength exercises after a set of squats for example. But when I see people sit and rest in the weight machines in between exercises, while maybe chatting away with friends or nosing around a magazine, then I just wonder if they expect to achieve any result at all. I would recommend to go home and do something fun instead. If your exercising isn’t fun, spend the time on something else instead.
Instead: Move your body constantly when using weight machines. In between exercises, move directly to the next exercise, so that one muscle group is working while another is resting. For example do large, compound exercises with free weights in between the sets at the weight machines. Be physically active all the time throughout your workout and you will maximize the effectiveness of your time at the gym.
Hours on the cross-trainer
Long, long cross-training workouts just take vital time at the gym – time that can be well spend on other things while exercising. Spending hours and hours on the cross-trainer will not change your body much. Especially for example if flipping through a magazine, reading a book, reading texts or emails on your mobile phone while on the cross-trainer. This will all distract you and you will be working at an intensity too low for having a significant impact on your body.
Instead: Use the cross-trainer just for warming up or use it on the heavy levels. The cross-trainer will not make you slim, strong and symmetric.
Loads of sit-ups
You will not get a six-pack by doing loads of sit-ups. Sit-ups alone will not flatten out the stomach, but will more than likely just cause lower back pian. That is at least what is happening with me.
Instead: Do large, compound exercises, deadlifts and squats is good exercise for your abdominal muscles. If you insist, isolation exercises of sit-ups do work the abdomens but other exercises are more efficient. The only way to get a ripped stomach where you can see definition, is to reduce the amount of fat overall in the body with for example a LCHF lifestyle – enjoy a clean sensible diet.
Doing the same exercise routine, week in week out
Your body is very adaptable and to do the same exercise routine week in and week out will not develop your body. The reason for this is simple: with the repetition of the same type of workout, your body will get used to the exercise routine and will consume less energy. Your body continually needs to be challenged, you need to feel the hard work throughout.
Instead: You will have to challenge your body on a regular basis, so that it won’t get used to the routine. Increase the weights, try new exercise routines, add cardio training in between, keep the workout on a high level throughout. Combine less heavy exercises for your upper part when working heavy on your legs and do less heavy exercises on your legs when focusing on heavy work on your upper part. Make sure your body is constantly moving.
Spending hours at the gym
Of course you can spend hours at the gym if you find that cosy but you will not necessarily get a beefy or more defined body by doing so. Spending 30 minutes at the gym can be well enough for pushing yourself to maximum. I can easily drain myself in 20 minutes without hardly being able to stand up after that.
Instead: Do rather short, intensive and concentrated workouts. Stay focused while exercising and avoid too long and too many rests in between the routines. Make sure you push yourself to maximum throughout.
Do your workout with the intention that you want to achieve results – I assume that is why you go to the gym. Stay focused on a heavy and intensive workout. Don’t cheat, there is no easy way or any shortcuts to a beefy or defined body. Just doing sit-ups won’t give you a six-pack ripped stomach. Just doing cross-training won’t give you a tight bottom. Exercise is sweaty and very hard – you’ll learn to love it or leave it. Do not waste your valuable time at the gym by doing a half decent job, thinking “it is better than doing nothing“. In that case, rather spend good, quality time with your friends.