i hate sounding like your father, but do you ever wonder why I always tell you to wrap your hands around the bar, including your thumb? How about why your feet should be pointing straight ahead? One obvious answer is safety, but there’s actually a lot of other reasons as to why you should follow the fitness rules. Listen up, and pay attention as to what mistakes you could be making in the gym, and reasons why you should avoid them.
Avoid The Suicide Grip
The suicide grip is when you bench press without your thumbs wrapped around the barbell. If the barbell slips when you press, it will crush your face, neck, or ribs.
But it’s not only about safety, the suicide grip is also a weaker grip compared to having your hands wrapped around the bar. To set a new personal record and really add pounds to your bench press, squeeze the bar as hard as possible — stabilizing the movement as well as engaging other muscles.
Point Feet Ahead
The only time you should have your feet slightly turned out is when you’re squatting, but for everything else, keep your feet pointed straight ahead. You already know that having your feet in the wrong direction can create a lot of stress on your knees and hips, but it can also reduce your strength. For example: when squatting, having your feet turned out too far or turned in will reduce the efficiency of the movement.
Use Weight Collars
Have you ever seen someone exercise without weight collars, only to have the plates slide around and almost fall off?
Regardless of the weight, it should be instinctive to attach weight collars when using barbells — preventing a disaster from happening. Having weight collars on a barbell can help improve your balance and feel of the exercise.
Good luck trying to set a PR when your 45 pound plates are all over the place.
Keep A Straight Back
Too often, guys bend backward as they push overhead. This happens for two reasons: they want to tilt their chest up to mimic an incline bench press or they lack shoulder mobility.
Doing either of those puts enormous and dangerous stress on the joints of your lumbar spine — risking a serious injury. Also, too much arching will shift the the force onto your chest, away from your shoulders, which means you won’t be getting the shoulder work that you’ve been looking for. Instead, squeeze your glutes and core as hard as you can as you push overhead — this will stabilize your lower back and help you push more weight overhead safely.
There are a few important reasons as to why you need to reach proper depth on the squat. Not going low enough will limit the size and strength of your legs as well as the range of motion. Worse, you’ll hurt yourself because the force of the weight stays on your knees and doesn’t shift onto your hips, which are far stronger until you reach parallel. So just ignore the myth that parallel squats are bad for your knees — it’s false. Just make sure to brace your core as you squat, spread your knees as you descend, and keep your weight on your heels.
Coming to the gym and starting your workout ice-cold can lead to injuries and pulls, and doing a few light reps of your first exercise won’t cut it. What you need is a series of dynamic movements that will open your joints, increase your core temperature, activate your weak muscles, and fire up your nervous system.
Another reason why skipping your warm up will limit your performance in the gym: your body and mind won’t be prepared to lift a heavy load.
Balance Pushing And Pulling
Walk into any commercial gym and you’ll notice most guys do a lot of pushing exercises like the bench press, pushup, military press, dip, and squat. Those moves are effective in building muscle and strength, but you also need to incorporate pulling exercises to better develop balance and your ideal physique.
Doing more pulling — rows, pullups, reverse flyes, deadlifts — promotes better posture and balance around your joints, which prevents injuries. But a more-underrated reason, is that pulling makes you stronger — it gives you the foundation you need to push harder. For example: if you’re plateauing on the bench, do more rows to build out your back. This will make you press more weight eventually.
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With that said, “We have great challenges and great opportunities, and with your help, we will meet them together!” – Jason