At Physique Performance Specialists, 80% of our clientele are usually newbies to to either the gym or the whole strength training side of things. Plus, out of these 80% of newbies, most of them (say 90%) are desk bound for 8-10 hours a day or a live a pretty sedentary inactive lifestyle.
When it comes to starting out in the gym, if you want the best start possible and want to see results as quickly as possible (who doesn’t right?), it’s important to build the most solid training foundation possible, so that when the ‘walls go up’ later on, your results don’t stall and you don’t risk reaching a certain a point in your training and find out there’s a lot of functional or physiological ‘cracks and leaks’ that are pretty hard by this stage, to go back and ‘repair’.
Over the years, we have come across a number of newbies in the gym who through no fault of their own, are doing exercises or following programs that just aren’t the best suited for their goals & lifestyle, this means that they could be doing a lot more to get good ‘bang for buck’ in the gym, instead of wasting their time doing exercises, they just don’t need to be doing…
If you're reading this, you’ve been in the gym for under 2 years and spend most of your time sitting down at the desk, and we are starting to strike a chord..
Continue reading to see if you are doing these 3 exercises, you don’t need to be doing and what you could be doing instead to maximise your results and building a stronger foundation in the gym:
As we mentioned earlier, you are likely to be reading this sitting down. You do this for 80% of your day, am I right? We go assume, you could also be pretty slouched and relaxed in your manner at the desk, especially after long periods of your time.
This whole time, your Lower-Back (Or Erector Spinae) is ON. It’s rock-hard, firing to keep you stable and doing the job of your now sleepy butt, hamstrings and core. Eventually this becomes too much, the muscles in the lower-back become short/tight and hyperactive.
So if your back is already pretty tight and switched on, working in with an isolation movement like Back Extensions to strengthen it and continue to teach your nervous system to allow your Lower-Back to dominate your posterior chain is probably not the smartest thing to do then right?
At PPS, we would recommend ditching the isolation work on your lower-back and substituting for some isolated Glute work. A stronger butt is going to help you a lot more in those heavy sets of Squats & Deadlifts, rather than an already tightened up lower-back, plus it’ll help wake those sleepy cheeks up which are snoozing the entire day while you are the desk.
We suggest focusing your time on either the ‘Barbell Hip-thrust’ or the ‘Glute-Ham Raise’ which will give you a lot more ‘bang for buck’ strength wise and functionally than the trusty ‘Back Extension’.
Look down at your thighs & knees right now…
The chances are pretty high, your knees are bent and your Quads/Thighs are in a short/flexed position and tightening up by the minute…
A tight pair of Quads/Hip Flexors puts a lot of stress on your pelvis, pulling it forward and keeps your Lower-Back into an ‘arched’ on position (see above) - this is usually referred to as an ATP: Anterior Pelvic Tilt.
Now we do still need to get work in on the Quads, but sitting on the Leg-Extension (usually because it’s a machine that’s easy to use) and blasting out reps and admiring our cool your Quads look when flexed, isn’t the answer at PPS.
We highly recommend some sort of variety of Lunge instead, not only is it a more ‘functional’ movement but it’s also working one leg at a time (helping to correct any imbalances) while also allowing you get a stretch through these tight muscles at the same time.
At PPS, we love FFE (Front Foot Elevated Lunges), Walking Lunges and Bulgarian Split Squats. Although our clients don’t love them as much as us, they do love the benefits and the results they get from doing them.
Guys especially, love doing a good old shrug in front of the mirror (or annoyingly right in front of the dumbbell rack). This like our other movements mentioned, work another overactive desk workers muscle - The Upper Traps which is a common cause of neck-pain.
So again, an already tight muscle is being taught to stay tight and continue to overpower weaker muscles such as the Mid/Lower Trapezius and Rhomboids etc. These muscles are typically overpowered by your tight upper traps, causing your upper-back and shoulders to ‘round’ and putting a lot of stress on your neck.
At PPS, we still do shrugs, but we love the Incline-Bench Shrug which targets the aforementioned weaker muscles of the upper-back (mid/lower trapezius).
The difference between a house or building with a solid foundation and an unstable foundation is how square the walls and roof are, and how many cracks start to appear over-time. Your body and training should be viewed no differently. The more patience, care and discipline you show by building a solid foundation when starting out in the gym, the greater and more sustainable your results will be, while staying more functional and injury free as time goes on.
Take into account your own lifestyle factors and habits outside the gym; where do you currently feel pain during the day? Which muscles need more love and which muscles need to relax?
Use this as an opportunity to review your programming, ditch the back extensions, leg extensions and upright shrugs, use a smarter approach, get more bang for buck out of your time in the gym…
Your body will thank you for it and you’ll thank us for it when you look in the mirror in 12-months time at your results after hitting multiple PB’s on your heavy compounds.
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