25 Training Mistakes You See at the Gym Everyday


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10 Question Exam (sent via email)

First, let me give a shorter list: What do people do right in the gym?

Answer: They show up!

Every IFPA Certified Personal Trainer must know that every man, woman and child needs exercise and healthy lifestyle management which includes healthy nutrition.  Just showing up at the gym is a major step in living longer, healthier and happier life, but when a gym goer hires an IFPA Certified Personal Trainer, they expect much more and I have every expectation that you will use your superior knowledge, skills and abilities to provide all your clients with safest and most effective Personal Training Sessions!

While I could easily write a book on the many common training mistakes I see people make in the gym, I will keep the article short with a few of the most common I see on a regular basis. I would advise all IFPA Personal Trainers to monitor the gym floor and watch for these mistakes.

When you see one of these exercise mistakes, walk over to the member, wait for an appropriate moment to speak, say hi and introduce yourself along with your title/position in the gym and say something like, “I apologize for interrupting, but it is my professional responsibility to protect every member of our gym from harm. I have observed you doing something that could cause you an injury, so with your permission, I would like to take a minute to instruct you, to make your workout safer and more effective.”

After you finish your instruction, give them your card and your offer, “If you like, the gym has authorized me to provide you one free personal training session so you can see firsthand how much more you can be getting from each workout and your gym membership.  All of my personal training clients have found that working with me gets them 4 times the benefit with far less time and pain! Please stop by and see me before you leave or if I am with another client, give me a call and I will set an appointment with you.”

This is a list of common training mistakes to watch for. If you see any of these then…..THEY NEED YOU!

  1. Lacking an Exercise Prescription (plan). If they don’t have a log book, notes, card or something spelling out Frequency, Intensity (% of RM or HRMax), Time (Sets/Reps or Time/Duration of Activity) or type: mode/exercises, etc.
  2. No warm up
  3. No cool down
  4. Sacrificing form for weight
  5. Spending all their time on machines
  6. Spending all their time with free weights
  7. Spending all their time doing cardio
  8. No body weight exercises
  9. Never going to failure
  10. Always going to failure
  11. Overdeveloping “mirror” or “show” muscles creating an imbalance
  12. “Cheating” wrong versus “Cheating” right!
  13. Not protecting tendons… bouncing!
  14. Over-resting
  15. Over emphasis of core or functional training, particularly when it is ineffective for their goals
  16. Under emphasis of multi-joint/coordination exercises
  17. Not knowing when to stop
  18. Not staying hydrated
  19. Not protecting joints i.e. “Locking!”
  20. Insufficient rest
  21. Overtraining
  22. Improper Breathing: You learned in detail in the IFPA Personal Trainer Certification course the physiological reasons for EXHALING of the concentric contraction (positive weight or weight stack going up) and for INHALING on the eccentric contraction (negative weight or weight stack going down). While power lifters and Olympic lifters typically incorporate the “Valsalva Maneuver,” holding their breath during their heavy concentric movements, this is contra-indicated (not recommended for the typical personal training client or non-athlete and body building populations).
  23. Inappropriate timing for exercise contractions. You learned in detail in the IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Course the physiological reasons for the IFPA 2-4 exercise system: 2 seconds to complete the concentric contraction, 4 seconds to complete the eccentric contraction.
  24. Ineffective and unsafe flexibility exercise technique: You learned in detail the appropriate technique to perform flexibility exercises in your IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Course the best way to perform each flexibility exercise to include proper warm-up, proper body position, hold to the point of “tight” but NEVER PAIN! Hold for 30 seconds then move into a “developmental stretch” for another 30 seconds. NEVER hold a stretch for 90 seconds or more!
  25. Ineffective cardio training: You learned in detail in the IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Course the physiology of cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory and the exercise science behind the IFPA Training Principles, how to acquire RHR, THR, MHR etc. How to calculate Max Heart Rate: 200-Age= MHR.  How to calculate MHR by the Karvonen Formula: (220-Age) – Resting Heart Rate (RHR) x (training percentage) + RHR = THR. The efficacy of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) versus the traditional steady -state, low-intensity-long duration (L.I.L.D.) training.  This includes the fact that sustained cardio exercise past 45 minutes increases cortisol production to the point that unhealthy inflammation can occur within the body.

This is a relatively “short list” of 25 common training mistakes people make in the gym during their workouts.

Your mission as an IFPA Certified Personal Trainer is to avoid ALL these mistakes, ALL the time!

This mission will place you in the top 1% of ALL personal trainers world wide!

Do your best for everyone you come in touch with!

Best regards,

Dr. Jim Bell,

CEO of the IFPA

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