With the New Year fast approaching and an abundance of New Year Resolutions this can only mean one thing… busy gyms and New Year Gym Problems! This makes it prime time to observe and highlight exactly what it is that annoys/frustrates me about other people’s training habits or behaviour. In many cases this is ultimately what prevents these people people from making the progress they desire.

1. Dis-organised Workouts with NO structure

All too often you go into the gym to train a muscle group (or perhaps 2) and there will be individuals who insist on randomly choosing machines /equipment and then seemingly picking a number between 1-20 to decide on how many reps to do. One moment they are doing 9 reps on the smith machine, and the next moment they are frantically swinging from the lat pull down, before aimlessly strolling over for a set on the preacher bench. Before you know it 15-20 mins have passed and they are off.

To cut it short, go in with a plan (either a single muscle group or two muscle groups to work). Make sure that you isolate that muscle, do the requisite number of reps to obtain your goal, and make sure that you have exhausted that muscle(s) before leaving the gym. The workouts that are disorganised and consist of random reps on random items of equipment certainly isn’t where the growth comes from.

The only exception I can think of is that of a full body workout. Often carried out at a higher intensity, and follows a clear structure attacking all the constituent parts of your body.

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2. Excessive rest/mobile phone breaks

You walk into most gyms,and there it is, the avid gym goer come texter. Stood by a piece of equipment engrossed by their phone. Their rest appearing to be dictated by how popular they are at that time of the day and/or the length of the text they are writing. Why not tuck your phone away for those 40 mins in a locker or place it on aeroplane mode? Commit to your workout, monitor and time your rest periods, and keep that all important intensity up. Not only will you get considerably more from your workouts, but you will also free up the equipment for those who want to train properly – it really is selfish to hog a machine on your phone!

3. The dreaded Bicep swing and departing elbows

Put it this way, if I had a pound for every time I saw appalling technique whilst people trained biceps (in particular) I would be a millionaire! Time and time again you see excessively heavy dumbbells or overloaded ‘ez’ bars being swung up and then uncontrollably lowered, whilst the culprit’s elbows follow the swing and depart from their side. Drop the weight, control the upwards phase of the lift (concentric), and spend equal attention lowering the weight (eccentric phase). Keep your body upright, and your elbows glued to your side- by isolating your bicep you will achieve a lot more and not join the infamous ‘swingers club’.

4. Mirror Hogging

There is no denying it, we all love to look in the mirror when we train, and yes I know most of us who train are vain. But jokes aside, mirrors serve a functional purpose, they allow us to closely monitor our technique and ensure we are effectively isolating the muscle and that we are doing so in a safe manner. Often you will see people manoeuvring into a side on position for exercises such as bicep curls, dead lifts or bent over row. There is nothing worse than someone obliviously blocking the mirror that you are using to ensure your technique/form is working for you and most importantly that it is safe too. So make sure you are conscious of other people training who may need to use the mirror for more than mere vanity.

5. General lack of awareness/etiquette

Come on, the gym isn’t a particularly formal place to be, but there are unwritten rules and standards we should strive to meet. One particular dislike and breach of these standards is the individual that loves to chuck weights around and bounce the resistance machines on each and every rep. We all know they exist and they are in every gym. If you can’t lift it properly either drop the weight or don’t lift it at all. What no-one can stand is the constant smashing and clanging that we all too often have to endure. Smooth your technique out, lower the weight with control and precision and do your body a favour and just as important give our ear drums a well deserved rest.

For the sake of all gym kind, if you know you anyone who falls into any of these categories, do yourself (and us) a favour and educate them to snap out of their habits – make the training environment the way it should be.