The gym is a minefield when it comes to training faux pas, some of the most common ones are using your phone to text whilst on a bench or machine, not putting your weights away after use, and standing in the way of peoples mirror space… so frustrating right!?
Although these are undeniably annoying, there are far more important mistakes many people make that include the ‘locking out’ of joints when leg pressing, the rounded lower back during deadlifts, or the ‘butt wink’ which see’s peoples lower backs round off at the bottom of a squat.
All of these mistakes can place strain on joints and certainly increase your risk of injury. However, there is one mistake that I see 99% of gym newbies doing, and that’s muscle isolation exercises. Although isolation exercises such as bicep curls and leg extensions have their place, there are far bigger fish to fry first!
If you want to respond well to training and increase overall muscle mass and tone, then take it from me, isolation movements are not the one to start with. Get yourself a good mentor in the gym, someone you can see knows what they are doing, then ask them for their advice (one of the biggest compliments you can pay to a gym goer). Ask them these 2 questions:
1.) How do I deadlift properly
2.) How do I squat properly
These two exercises are known as compound movements, and take it from me, these exercises teach your body how to grow. All too many people perform isolation exercises such as bicep curls, shoulder presses and leg extensions, but these will deliver modest results for 2 reasons:
1.) They only target 1 or 2 muscle groups per exercise
2.) They fail to increase growth hormone release
Growth hormone and testosterone are vital anabolic hormones, this means they encourage muscle growth. Compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats trigger a major release of these hormones which signal to your body to grow.
The University of Michigan explain that growth hormone is released in a pulsatile fashion (in drips and drabs) meaning levels in your body fluctuate, compound exercises will ensure that your growth hormone, testosterone and insulin levels stay elevated for longer. The longer you can keep growth hormones elevated, the better your chances of growing strong, thick, dense muscle will be.
From a supplement perspective consider ZMA, a mineral supplement that is key to the normal function of hormones needed for muscle growth and function. Or you may wish to get the range of vitamins and minerals via a multi-vitamin and mineral.