There is a major problem in the commercial gym world. The majority of lifters and trainees who work out in those gyms are suffering from a serious lack of results.
I primarily trained at commercial gyms from 2003 until 2014. Rarely in all my years at those gyms did I see someone that made me say “They train for real.”
How is this possible at the gym? How can a trainee or lifter go to the gym 4, 5, even 6 days a week still possess a below average physique?
I’ll tell you why: they waste time in the gym.
You Cannot Get It Back
You can earn back the money you blew during your Vegas trip or on that bad stock investment you made into a certain vibrating dumbbell.
If your business failed you can start another one.
You can even regain your hairline if it is fading badly. Maybe not.
What you cannot do however is get your TIME back.
Time is the most valuable thing in the world. When we think back on our lives don’t we wish we didn’t waste time on frivolous things or situations? Once the time is gone, it is gone forever!
This message is inspired by the masses of people I see in the gym or on the track who are wasting valuable time on their fitness journey.
It has gotten to a point where it is painful and sad to watch.
Folks are wasting time on ellipticals and treadmills.
Lifters are wasting time with uninspiring and lame machine workouts.
Trainees are wasting time with an ill-advised diet.
Clients are wasting time with trainers who have no experience in the game and no idea how to build better physiques.
Many folks equate the time they put into something to results, but that is not how the game works.
When the time you put in the gym is the definition of fake hustle, you have wasted your effort. When you waste effort, you build frustration.
Frustrated people are not happy and you do not need a scientific study to confirm that.
The goal of strength training is progression but somehow progression always gets swept under the carpet like some old family secrets.
Trainees who make real progress with their physique and performance focus on getting stronger, leaner, and more athletic.
Whether it is 1 extra rep, 5 extra pounds on the bar, or a faster sprint time, the goal is always to try to do slightly better than you did during your last training session.
The slight improvements add up over time. If you do things correctly there will come a time where you look in the mirror and say “Whoa!”
Your new body will amaze you and you will feel like you are a whole new confident person. That is how progression is done!
On the flip side of the coin when you do the same exact thing for every single workout, your progress stops cold like winter in the Northeast.
If Charlie Chest bench presses 135lbs for 3×10 every time he trains upper body, how much pec meat will he really add to his teenage bird chest?
If Latisha Legs squats 95lbs for 3×10 every time she does lower body should she truly expect her legs to get thicker and stronger?
The most important question though is this: Over the course of 1 year how much time will you end up wasting in the gym if you train like the average commercial gym lifter?
You may be asking how does the average trainee waste time at the gym. They waste time by doing things such as:
-Texting during the workout
-Mindlessly scrolling on social media during the workout
-Having too much water cooler talk during the workout
-Taking super long rests (5-10 minutes) in between sets during the workout. Long rests work well with speed workouts and also powerlifting but no so much for physique building.
-Talking on the phone during the workout
-Complaining during the workout
-Not having a plan of action before the workout
-Being inconsistent with their workout
-Using low food chain exercises as the bulk of their workout
-And some guys waste time by chasing pie in the gym
How To Avoid Wasting Time At The Gym
You can learn how to avoid wasting time at the gym by doing the simple things below:
1) Train 3-5 days a week
You absolutely will not reach your body or performance goals if you are not consistent with your workouts.
Training 2 days one week, 1 day the next week, 0 days the next week, and then 1 day the following week has NO value when you are in the pursuit of building a leaner and healthier body.
You cannot complain about how your body looks and feels if you are not willing to put in the time and effort needed to change.
Two of my top tips for staying consistent is to train on the same days and at the same times.
This will develop a habit. If folks can sit on the couch and schedule time to watch their favorite TV shows at the same time every day, then why can the same folks not schedule their workouts and do them consistently?
2) Train with a progressive plan
The parameters of training (sets/reps/weight/rest) should be improving and changing to ensure progression.
Using the same training scheme every week with no change in the parameters equates to you going nowhere fast.
You could use my RP-21 Training System to get started with a progressive training program.
3) Use compound movements as the base of your training program
Here are the main exercises that should make up the majority of a lifter’s training program to build a complete physique:
-Glute Ham Raises
-Barbell Hack Squats
Most of the above movements will work large muscle groups. I’ve even listed the primary isolation and abdominal movements you can also use in a training program below:
-Rear Delt Raises
By using compound exercises as the base of your training you will be able to pack on great size and strength.
Do not try to sell me that you are going to gain serious muscle and strength using pec dec flyes or glute kickbacks.
4) Use real conditioning not “cardio”
Here are the main exercises a lifter should use for conditioning to assist in losing body fat:
-Pushing the Prowler
-Barbell or Dumbbell Complexes
Conditioning like sprinting and pushing the Prowler is extremely hard. Sometimes during those tough conditioning sessions you reconsider why you are even training.
But the mental and physical benefits of performing hard conditioning workouts is unmatched.
You will feel and look like a winner after you complete a true conditioning workout.
Aim to hit it and quit it in less than 10-15 minutes for your conditioning workouts.
You should not have much gas in the tank when you are done.
Dancing on a lame elliptical or a for 1-2 hours to achieve nothing of value is about as stimulating as watching grass grow. I’d rather watch the grass grow.
5) Eat for results
Building muscle and losing body fat is a numbers game.
If you want to have a fantastic body composition, you have to have control of your diet.
Knowing how to manage your macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and calories is one of the keys to building your dream body.
This does not mean you need to eat like a bodybuilder in the final phase of competition prep and monitor every single meal to the T.
But this does mean that you need to know what goes into your body and how to plan proper meals.
To have an extraordinary body, you only need have to have a simple diet that is consumed with extraordinary consistency.
If you eat garbage or the macro/calorie numbers do not add up, you will not get the body you want.
Remember junk food equals a junk body.
Also, anyone who tells you “a calorie is a calorie” is full of pure malarkey. I think there may be just a slight difference between 2500 calories of high sugar/high fat/low protein vs. 2500 calories of high protein/moderate carbs/moderate fat.
6) Getting sleep and reducing stress
If you are not allowing your body to recover from hard workouts and daily life stress, then you will derail your chances at building your dream body.
Missing out on sleep makes climbing up the mountaintop of success significantly more difficult.
Therefore aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night for the best results.
Removing unnecessary stress from your life will pay dividends as well.
For instance, if you are surrounded by people who energize and inspire you to get better and reach your goals, your days will be full of joy.
However if you are surrounded by toxic people who complain, moan, and bring the negativity to you, then your days will be spent stressed out over their trivial matters.
7) Leave Your Phone In The Locker Room
Some folks can do their workout with their phone near them and not be caught up in the trivial nothings of social media.
If you are someone who is addicted to their phone and struggles to remain focused while your phone is near you, I suggest you leave it in the locker room.
You are at the gym to train, not to scroll aimlessly into the dustbins of social media oblivion.
If you are not consistently doing the above things, then you are wasting time and effort in terms of building your best physique and maximizing your athleticism.
Hollow training, a lackluster diet, and poor sleep will not allow you to realize the potential of your physique.
Just showing up, hopping on a treadmill, and then pumping some machines to “workout” is not good enough. Use your time wisely and above all make a real investment into your body because you only have one.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,
(This article was written in 2013 but recently updated.)
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