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Fairytales in the gym: Upper body only guy

Continuing our look at misconceptions and myths at the gym, I want to start to look at gym stereotypes.

In any gym you will encounter some extremes of training regimes and character. There's a bunch of tropes that have built up around this, creating characters in our gym fairy tale. None of these people are real, but they do represent traps that it is easy for real people to fall into. So I present these guys with affection and no judgement, they're in the gym, that's the hardest part, now lets tweak it so they are getting the best out of their gym time.


1. Upper body only guy.


Do you go to the gym just to do freeweights?
Are you lifting like a beast but struggling on cardio fitness tests?
Do you have enormous biceps?
Are you super buff, from the navel up?
Are you unfamiliar with the concept of "legs day"?

You might be turning into Upper body only guy.



There's a lot of work goes into a balanced workout. It can be hard to schedule time for a warm up, extended cardio, a full balanced programme of resistance training AND stretching and cool down. So why not just focus on the gains that matter most to you? You can do funky dance moves with your pecs and you've got sick guns. That's winning!

Unfortunately by focusing solely on resistance work, and in an unbalanced manner, UOG is selling himself short. Our bodies are built from amazing structures that require an even spread of attention. Bench press is a great exercise, it's great to have an impressive bench weight and all that chest muscle. But if you don't balance the work and stretch out afterwards, your chest muscles will shorten giving you a slouched posture.

There's great benefit to building cardio into your routine (I'm going into that one on my next installment). You need that, for your health and also to optimise your ability to lift. So this is what UOG needs to do for his routine.


Warm up, properly


At least 5 minutes of cardio, followed by some dynamic stretches and mobilising the areas you are about to work. No, lifting a slightly lighter weight for a bit is not an adequate warm up, you need to prepare your body for the work or you won't be getting the most out of your effort.

Balance your work


For every chest exercise, do a back exercise, and a leg exercise and some core. Seriously. If you are finding it hard to fit everything into one session, that's usual, that's what split routines are for. Do one workout push (chest), one pull (back) and one legs. That gives you time to get plenty of volume in, and plenty of recovery time. It also stops you spending too long on one type of exercise.

Do some cardio


Fit in a couple of cardio sessions a week. Check my next post for more info on how to use cardio to improve your lifting, and how to fit it around your resistance schedule.

Stretch


Make sure you properly stretch every area you have worked in a session. A good foam roller session is also great for working out those tight spots. I actually quite like using the rest periods between sets for some dynamic stretching or flow yoga, to keep the body warm and the joints mobile while the big guns are recovering.


Plan your work


This is the key. If you turn up to the gym with a vague idea that you might lift some weights, you will automatically go straight to the stuff you enjoy, or just do most often. Make sure your workout is balanced by taking a few minutes to plan a balanced workout (or week of workouts) when your mind is clear and the workout is hypothetical.

I plan my week of workouts every Sunday evening (on a whiteboard in my studio). Later in the week I come to despise Sunday-evening-me (she's evil) but I stick to the plan and do workouts that are planned based on progressive challenge and balance, not influenced by my emotion on the day.



If you are finding it tough to build yourself an effective workout routine that you enjoy and can stick to, why not call in an expert. Most gyms have personal trainers in situ, or you could look at an online option. You can train online with me, either as a full PT, or by having a great value, customised workout plan built for you.

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