Do you maximise your efforts in the gym?

We all make mistakes, (I sure as hell make my fair share of them!) we all have to start somewhere too, right?

Usually with a lot of mistakes.

Quite often I see the same mistakes being made repeatedly, that’s why I’m writing this article. Whether you’re training with us here at Access Fitness or heading over to your local health club, there are a few things you can do to help make those goals an almost certainty.

This one has to go at number 1 (they are all of equal importance however) because it’s got to be the most frequent mistake I see. If you don’t have a programme, you don’t have jack!
Here’s how it looks;
In walks a guy or gal, picks up a couple of dumbbells and throws out a couple of curls as some sort of warm up before heading for the leg press. They’re soon bored of that one so they inevitably head over to the cable machine to do ‘flyes’ or ‘kick backs’ because apparently, “that’s how Hugh Jackman built his inner pecs, bro” or “I heard kick backs are great for bingo wings”
Before you know it they’re leaving having barely broken a sweat... this inevitably leads to one thing...ZERO PROGRESSION!
SOLUTION: Find a programme that suits your goals/experience/time/ commitment level etc and stick to it, for 3-4 months at the least. A good programme should have you steadily progressing throughout its duration. Even a shit programme will yield more results than no programme at all. Do your homework and read everything you can about your programme, if you’re struggling, consult a professional and they will put you straight.
Every time you walk into the gym you should have a very clear plan and a time frame. Get in and get out! Giving yourself too long in the gym means you can piss about on your phone as long as you want instead of actually working out!
You’re suffering from a lack of focus. Texting, chatting on the phone, playing candy crush, whatever, that stuff will kill your training session, PERIOD!
SOLUTION: I’m all for having the craic and swapping notes etc, but leave the mobile in your locker... YOU WILL SURVIVE WITHOUT IT!

If you’re suffering from the first problem you’re going to struggle with this one too, so get that sorted straight away. And if you train with someone who’s only concern is pissing about, then bin them off!

Next, you need to get some Zen-like focus. About 10-20 seconds before my next set I will sit down, close my eyes and visualise myself completing every rep before attacking the next set with ferocity.
Keep an eye on your rest times and abide by them by focusing on the reason you’re in the bloody gym in the first place!
You think everyone will mock you if you load up the bar with the weight you can really lift. So you pile on the plates and he-presto, you miss your first rep. Then you slink off all embarrassed to find a distant machine somewhere away from the scene of the crime.

SOLUTION: I imagine I’m talking mainly to the guys on this one, we tend to let our egos do the lifting, although who am I to make such an assumption?
Here’s what you need to do; realise that no one cares what you can lift, it’s all in your head!
Start at a realistic load and add small, consistent amounts every time you lift.
Soon enough you will be that guy or gal you admire, walking around not caring about what everyone else is doing.
This one is so important it’s not even funny. You simply have to write everything you do in the gym down or you can’t possibly expect to make any progress. I’ve forgotten my training log in the past and it sucks. Trying to remember every single load for every lift is no mean feat, guessing equals failure.
SOLUTION: This one’s easy, get a notebook, one that’s big enough to allow you to view several weeks over a double page and write everything down... Reps, sets, load (kgs), rest times, missed reps, energy levels, pre/peri/post workout nutrition. Keep it in your gym bag so you never forget.
Again, this is absolutely fundamental if you expect to see any progress at all. Whatever your goals are, be it increases in size and strength, body fat reduction or cardiovascular endurance, the outcome of your hard work is largely dictated by caloric and macronutrient intake- what you eat.
Knowing how to eat for purpose is easier said than done though with any number of contradictory opinions available to us today. However, if you follow some basic guidelines you can’t go too far wrong.
SOLUTION: It is not within the scope of this article to discuss calorie and macronutrient ratios in depth for any number of different outcomes, however here are a few things to remember...

  • Resistance training for strength and hypertrophy (Lean muscle gain) is the best way to re-composition your body. You can’t be afraid to eat enough to make this happen. Far too often calories are cut way too low and progress stalls, leaving you hungry and frustrated.


  • Prioritise making your diet as healthy as you can before you think about reducing calories or toying with macronutrient levels. This means reducing or eliminating processed foods and allergens. Coming from a period of eating healthily at maintenance levels will put you in far superior stead to succeed.


  • Figure out roughly how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis and keep a record of it. To find out roughly how many calories you need to consume to maintain your current weight, Google ‘BMR calculator’ and ‘BMR activity levels’ and follow the steps there. Once you have these values you can look at them with relation to your progress and tweak accordingly.There are numerous apps that allow you track calories and macronutrients; Fat Secret and MyFitnessPal being two of them.

Get those 5 principles in place and you won't go too far wrong. Without them you're leaving too much potential on the table.
If you have any questions or you just want to say hi, drop me a line at