The most common errors in the gym

The gym is the place where you can dramatically improve strength, speed and fitness.

This can greatly improve your on field performance. However the gym is also a place where you can injure yourself or even reduce your performance.

I have outlined here the five most common mistakes seen in the gym by the rugby players I meet. When I work with an athlete correcting these errors is high on my priority list.

1) Not making improvements.

Sounds simple but the majority of gym users have not made any improvements in the last few months or have stalled over time with periods of improvement followed by injury or poor attendance.

If you are benching 90Kg today and you were doing this 3 months ago you have broken the first rule of exercise and stopped making improvements. You have hit an exercise plateau.

This totally undermines your exercise and goals. You have to change your exercise programme regularly. Change it next time you are in the gym, If you usually do 12 reps a set then increase the weight and do just 6. You must force the body to respond. This is why the theory of Periodization was invented.

2) Following a body builders routine.

The gym environment is dominated by people who follow body building routines. The idea of this is to use a split routine and target different muscles groups.

This is fine for body builders but you are a rugby player. Contrary to popular belief muscle volume is not directly related to muscle strength. This is why sprinters, who are some of the strongest athletes pound for pound are not huge but instead are often small guys with a lot of very dense muscle and the ability to lift huge weights.

Rugby players should be the same and though they do need a certain amount of muscle mass most players develop this early in their playing life and would be far better developing their strength thereafter over their size. Please see the section on resistance training for more info

3) Thinking a gym session has to be a certain length of time

All too often gym sessions are missed because work runs over and people feel that 30 minutes is not long enough to get some results. This is rubbish and the reality is that anything is better than nothing and just 10 minutes of weights or two 5 minute bursts on the treadmill will still allow you to make gains or at least stop you going backwards.

Too many people think they must hit their 20 minutes on the bike or the session has been a failure. Anything is better than nothing and a short bout even if just 5 minutes is better than getting out of the routine and disappearing for months on end.

When lifting weights it has been shown that even just one set is enough to maintain muscle strength. Fewer more intense sets have also been shown to increase strength faster than traditional body building principles of 5 sets plus per muscle group.

4) Not engaging the core or holding a perfect posture.

The key to safety in the gym is engaging the core and developing a perfect posture. Before each exercise you should adopt a neutral spine and engage your core.

This will improve your strength, reduce chances of injury and allow for you to adopt efficient movement mechanics. This is key to developing strength and speed yet overlooked by most players.

5) Going too hard

Guys are likely to go too heavy on the weights. If you can’t keep perfect technique for the desired reps your weight is too heavy.

The same can be said of training the legs, people go much too hard on the first session on their legs so they then are stiff for a week afterwards. This means most players end up never training their legs which is a disaster. Start easy so no soreness is felt and increase very gradually.

Cardio wise you do not need to be at deaths door to be attaining the benefits of the training. A common mistake would be to go 19 minutes at a comfortable pace before turning into a maniac for the last minute and killing yourself. On completion that mad final spurt did not help the fitness too much and left a nasty memory of how painful the gym can be.

These common mistakes are made frequently by most rugby players and the general public alike. Ensure you are not one of them by working with me to develop your rugby performance levels.


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