50 Tips for Maximising Your Training and Performance in the Gym

Image module
  1. Get a training programme tailored to your goals to ensure you are getting the most out of your training and that you are on the right track to where you want to be rather than going in and taking each session as it comes.


  1. Leave the ego at the door. Nobody cares how much you bench and squat if you are doing it with ridiculous technique. Take the time to learn the movement and get your mobility on point before you start loading up a bad movement and getting injured.


  1. Don’t be afraid to do movements, you are not as strong at. We are all guilty of this, leaving movements that you are weaker at and find harder out as you’d much rather do something that you know you can lift a good load on. Take the time to learn the harder movement and slowly become stronger at it, which will then build up the weakness in that area and carry over to it being a movement you, then enjoy.


  1. Always take the time to warm up prior to any training session. Just a simple 10 to 15 minutes devoted to rolling out, mobility and some simple activation exercises has extreme benefits in making you feel stronger in each session and preventing injury.


  1. If it hurts, back off. Usually pain somewhere is caused from weakness/tightness in one area and also bad technique. I myself have done it many times where something has been irritating me but I kept brushing it off, when really this is going to cause more problems in the long run and potentially put you out of training for weeks or even months. Back off whatever is hurting you and simply work around the pain as this sport is about longevity. Nobody wants to be crippled in a wheel chair in 10 year’s time because you didn’t look after your joints.


  1. Put the phone down in the gym. Unless you are changing song or have your workout on your phone there is no reason why you should be texting someone you are trying to get stuck into telling them how pumped your arms are. Get the work done, train intense and catch up with friends afterwards.


  1. If you are having a bad day weather it’s to do with stuff that’s going on in work or in your relationship don’t be afraid to leave the gym for the next day. A lot of people get caught up and sacrifice so much to get to one session even though they feel like shit and will have a half arsed workout. Take the day off and kill your next session when your mind is in a better place.


  1. Your muscle does not know the number that is on the bar. If your goal is hypertrophy then dial the weight back and focus on time under tension.


  1. What is time under tension? Time under tension also known as “TEMPO’ is the pace in which you move the weight. This would be extremely common with bodybuilders as controlling the weight and squeezing the muscle is going to take longer to perform each rep, which will then carry over to more blood into the muscle and more muscle fibre recruitment.


  1. Don’t be afraid to use the 1.25kg and 2.5kg plates in the gym. We are all looking to progress and unfortunately you won’t be able to add 5kg to the bar each week. By making smaller jumps up it will help keep your strength gains more consistent and stop you from plateauing sooner.


  1. Don’t rely on the smith machine for heavy movements like squatting and benching. The smith machine, unlike a barbell, is a fixed machine so can lead to bad bar path, which can result in bad posture. Take the extra time to learn the movements correctly before jumping to the smith machine.


  1. Don’t neglect your rear delts. They are the very small muscle at the back of your shoulders and when developed properly give you that round boulder shoulder look.


  1. Train through a full range of motion for the best strength gains. Half repping will not carry over to your lifts going up.


  1. Don’t bounce your dead-lifts off the floor. Dead-lifts are a DEAD stop movement, meaning you fully rest on the floor taking all of the momentum out of the lift and go again. Bouncing the dead-lift can increase the risk of damaging your lower back and pulling a bicep dramatically.


  1. Raising your heels when you are squatting is perfectly fine. All this does is allow you to get greater range into the squat whilst maintaining an upright trunk. This won’t be for everyone as some people rather squat barefoot which is also perfect.


  1. Have a black coffee 30 minutes pre workout. Black coffee has multiple different benefits including improved focus, increases performance and decreases muscle pain. Personally I would never waste my money on pre workout supplements as I feel I get more bang for my buck having a strong cup of Joe.


  1. Don’t overlook smaller exercises such as band pull aparts, press ups and body weight squats. They all have a purpose and are extremely beneficial when performed either as a warm up or at the end of a workout.


  1. Supplement intra workout with Electrolyte powder. This is great to put into your water and sip on whilst you train to make sure you stay hydrated and don’t cramp up.


  1. Change up your grip width/stances preforming exercises time to time as you may result in finding one that is more suitable for yourself and that you feel more powerful in.


  1. Incorporate fat grips into your training from time to time as these are great for your grip strength and also add a different stimulus to what you have previously been doing.


  1. A quick tip for bench pressing. Always make sure your feet are glued to the floor allowing you to get a good leg drive on your press. You want to imagine that you are bending the bar as you are pressing as this will help keep the elbows tucked in, protecting the shoulders and get the bar in a better groove.


  1. Always time your rest. The heavier the load the longer you need to recover. You will get nothing out of doing a set of curls and resting for 4 minutes in-between.


  1. If you are stuck for time training or the gym is closing early don’t be afraid to do some super-sets. This is a great way to get more workload done with the time you have. Try and have it so they are opposing muscle groups such as biceps and triceps or chest and back.


  1. Don’t rely on things like straps/wraps and lifting belts. These all have their purpose but you should be able to perform just as well in each session without relying on a piece of equipment.


  1. Track your workouts. Have a little book or spread sheet that you can write down what you’re doing week by week. This is a great tool as you can look back on what you did the previous week and either try add load or reps to the movement to consistently make progress.


  1. Don’t under estimate training your core. A strong core will carry over to you lifting more weight on your heavy compound lifts and help improve your posture. Movements like abs role outs and leg raises are ideal.


  1. A quick tip for squatting. Try spreading the floor apart with your feet. This will get your quads and gluts activated up nicely and get the knees tracking out over your toes making it a more powerful squat.


  1. If your goal is to be able to do chin ups start off on inverted ring rows. These are a great tool to build up a solid base of strength in your back and progress by working your way under more each workout. Then you can move on eccentric chin-ups when you are controlling the lower phase of the rep and building up the negative portion. If you can control your body weight for 30 seconds on the way down you should be able to perform 1 clean chin up.


  1. Swap out any low intensity cardio for some HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. Some get some sprints done on the bike or even some prowler runs instead of walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes as you will get way more bang for your buck in terms of fat loss and in half the time.


  1. If your motivation to train has gone down and your sessions are not up to standard with how you would usually train this is a common sign of over-training/overreaching. If you are experiencing this back off your training and give your Central Nervous System (CNS) a chance to recuperate.


  1. Don’t spend endless amounts of hours in the gym thinking it’s going to make you get better progress. Get in and get the session done allowing you the rest of the day to feed the muscles.


  1. Weightlifting belts have their place. Just like anything else don’t rely on it. Get up to a basic level of strength before experimenting with them and only use them on sets where you feel it’s absolutely necessary.


  1. If you are someone who does a lot of pressing, whether it is horizontal pressing or overhead make sure you’re counteracting it with about 2 pulling movements per pressing movement. This will help a lot with your posture, as a lot of people nowadays are very “kyphotic”. This is when the upper back is very rounded and the chest and shoulders roll forward making you look like a pringle.


  1. A quick and effective drill for warming up is getting a little lacrosse ball or hockey ball and digging it into your glutes on each side. This will be extremely beneficial for loosening up the tissue in your gluteus, as they tend to be an area that gets very knotted up and tight with everyone spending most of the day sitting down.


  1. Dead-lift tip. In the bottom position of the dead-lift keep your head neutral. Make sure in the bottom position you aren’t looking up as this puts the upper back and neck in a very vulnerable position. You want everything in line.


  1. If your goal is to loose fat and you are incorporating both weight training and cardio in your programme start with the weight lifting and finish up with the cardio to finish you off at the end.


  1. Bench press tip: When benching you want your wrists in line with the forearm. A good que I always think of is knuckles to the roof. A lot of people get sloppy and allow the wrist to roll back adding unnecessary stress to the wrist joint.


  1. Don’t underestimate rest days. Rest days are great for allowing you to spend some time getting mobility work done on areas that you really need it making you feel fresh and help with recovery so you can smash the next session.


  1. Don’t waste your time training a certain muscle group 4 or 5 times a week thinking that it will grow bigger then everything else. In order to grow you need to feed the muscle and put on weight everywhere in order to develop each muscle group.


  1. If you are completely new to the gym start off training with basic compound lifts. Such as squats, bench, dead-lifts, overhead press, chin ups and dips. These are all amazing movements, which will really help you make some quality gains in your first few years of training and should never be overlooked.


  1. If your goal is strength training then you should base your workout off of one of the 3 compound lifts being the squat, bench and dead-lift. Working with lower reps such as 5 sets of 5. I always say start with your heavy movement and trickle down into a more bodybuilding style of training for assistance movements, which will help build up that main movement. So, for example, if your goal is to build up your bench start with a 5×5 with that, then go into some chin ups, overhead presses and triceps dips working in the 8-12 rep range as building these muscles up is going to carry over to you increasing your bench.


  1. What should you do if you plateau? Plateau means when you basically have hit a wall and cannot increase the weight on the bar anymore. This happens in both strength training and hypertrophy training and it can be linked to numerous different reasons such as not consuming enough calories, not sleeping enough, lack of hydration, taking on too much volume in each session and also jumping up in weight to quick. If you experience this, then take 2-3 days off and decrease the load your working with 5-10% and slowly work back up. If it has happened on a programme that you have been running for the last few months, then it would be ideal to switch things up and give the body a new stimulus.


  1. If you find it hard to feel a certain muscle working, then lighten the load. Take all the emphasis off your joints and focus on controlling the weight and squeezing the muscle to get as much blood into it and get a great pump.


  1. Eat a pre-workout meal a good 60 to 90 minutes before you train. The last thing you want is to rush your pre workout meal go straight to the gym and end up seeing it again around the second set of your first exercise.


  1. Your 3 main points of focus in training should be:
  • to get stronger on at least one primary movement each week
  • Improve your form and mental connection on all key exercises
  • Not to experience lingering in your muscle or joints as increased soreness over a long period of time means you are doing more harm than good


  1. Alcohol consumed directly after training has been shown in some cases to prolong the exercise inducted elevation stress hormones Cortisol, thus potentially prolonging the catabolic phase of recovery so I would highly recommend you stay away from alcohol post workout.


  1. Sleep is a necessity not a luxury when it comes to achieving optimal health and performance. Inadequate sleep disrupts blood sugar metabolism, growth hormone output, and natural testosterone production and thyroid output so if you are looking to perform your best each session sacrifice that extra hour on Facebook in the evening and get to bed.


  1. Everybody is individual. Just because your training partner is getting stronger and bigger off of a certain plan that does not always mean you will. Figure out what works for you.


  1. One of the most important determinants of optimal health and performance is hydration. The chemical structure of water (H2O) notably hydrogen and oxygen is essential for all Cellular processes within the body from digestion right through to nervous system functions. We are continually loosing fluid through perspiration, breathing and exercise. A drop of as little as 2% of your body mass in fluid can lead to over 10% drop in maximal strength. Hydration must be taken seriously especially around vulnerable times when dehydration may occur. Prime Times would include when training or rising first thing in the morning. Drink water at a rate that’s comfortable, not all in one go as this may cause digestive discomfort.


  1. When training your biceps change up your hand position to hit different heads of the bicep. Going with a narrower grip mainly works the long head of the bicep, which is the outer head. If you go with a wider grip this will hit more of the short head, which is the inner bicep.