Do not train through the pain!
The first and foremost rule of working out is that pain is rarely going to lead to good things, and when I say pain, I don't mean "I've got to duck out of this set because it's getting tough." I mean, "if I do another rep, my shoulder will fall off like a proverbial lego man!".
Keeping injury-free should be the absolute key to you maintaining the frequency of your sessions in the gym. Start small, and gradually increase your reps, weights, and sets over 4-6 weeks. The "new you" journey should be seen as a long and winding road, not a 100-metre dash to the finish line.
How to know when to stop?
If you are working out and your back/knee/shoulder pain is above a 6/10 on a pain scale, it's probably something to get checked out.
Mobility before movement
Mobility work should underpin ALL key moves in the gym. Without good mobility, your technique will suffer, and you'll eventually end up having an ineffective workout, or it'll lead to injury.
A decent mobility and warm-up routine can take a little as 5-10 minutes of light or bodyweight movements as close to the exercise you are doing as possible.
If you already have pre-existing injuries, use this time to work on them and prepare your body for your gym session; you're body will thank you when you are lifting heavier weights or hitting those intense HIIT workouts without any joint and muscle pain!
Thou shalt walk before running
Many people will surely dust off their trainers and head to pound the pavements into the New Year. Our advice - if you haven't done any running for a while. Focus on getting your 10,000 steps a day in first!
Why? Many people end up doing far too much mileage than their bodies can do, leading to issues such as Achilles tendinopathies and hip and knee injuries. Whereas if you are starting, the better and more low-impacting option is to get out and walk; it won't feel as horrendous to start doing, and what's better is that you'll still get the benefits from increasing your physical activity.
Gym Bros shalt do more than ten reps
Guys… we've all been there; we love a bit of ego lifting.
Grunting away for an explosive 6-10 reps is excellent for top-end strength, but expanding this beyond ten reps opens up a great way of varying your training. Not only is working up to 12 reps an optimal range for muscle growth, but a great way to ignite your metabolism is by working between 12-15 reps - perfect for those of you looking to torch body fat and develop a more lean, athletic physique.
Plus, doing what you've always done will get you what you've always got. By going above the ten rep mark, you'll open yourself up to new stimuli for your body and fitness to change!
Neglect thy cardio at your peril
Exercise is well documented for improving many different aspects of your health. One of the key benefits is that your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) becomes more efficient and allows you to work harder in the gym.
Again, some of the gym bros out there don't necessarily take the time to develop this, as they should opt for the bench press and bicep curls.
Cardio is just as important as strength training and mobility work. More importantly, by improving your cardiovascular fitness, you'll provide yourself with a much better platform to build the intensity of your workouts off! If you need any more convincing, I encourage you to watch any Crossfit Games Event. Those guys and girls can combine strength and stamina to perform a workout that would take the average person 45 minutes, in less than 20.
To get the best bang for your buck, opt for interval-style training: pick a piece of cardio equipment, warm up for 5 minutes, then perform 30-60 seconds of effort (around 8/10 effort), followed by 30-60 seconds of rest. Repeat 4-6 intervals depending on your fitness level.
Cast thy ego aside
Have you just returned to the gym following an extended break, or are you still finding your feet after lockdown?
The main thing we have seen at Namix is individuals coming in, attempting the weights or workouts they did up to 6-12 months previously, then becoming disheartened and demotivated about their fitness ability.
This is where a bit of tough love comes in:
- Accept that things aren't as they were.
- Realign your goals to your current situation.
- Ask for support if you need it, and work your ass off!
- Smash your goals, set new ones, and repeat step 3.
Train thy back as much as thy front
Have you ever noticed that person who only trains what they can see in the mirror? They are on the road to ruin!
Not only does training the front side of your body massively limit the number of moves you can do in the gym, but it also can lead to a tonne of imbalance issues leading to shoulder, back and hip injuries.
Our best advice, spend twice as much time training muscle groups like your hamstrings, trapezius, glutes and rear deltoids. If you're not sure of what moves to go for, check out our list of top posterior chain exercises:
- The Deadlift
- Barbell Bent Over Row
- Lat Pull Downs
Add any of these into your workout to ignite your muscle-building potential, and watch your niggly back and hamstring issues melt away!
Remember to KISS when working out
Yes, you've read that correctly.
KISS: Keep. It. Simple. Stupid!
This concept is pretty self-explanatory. In a world where fitness is fast-moving, we are led to believe that results come thick and fast, and the more complex the workout, the better.
But this is not necessarily the case.
For most people, the most basic moves need mastering. Even the simplest movements, such as the squat, can be manipulated up to 20 times before even considering trying something more advanced.
The point here is to find the most simple exercises that you know you can master and exhaust them. The reason is, once you have mastered the technique, the fun comes from seeing your sets, reps and weights all go up. The likelihood is that when you start thinking too hard about your training, you will navigate away from the goal you initially set. Don't let that happen, and don't be deterred by watching others; take pride in the progress you are making, and enjoy getting stronger!
Thou shalt measure thy progress!
Whatever your goals, however long the time frame is for, they NEED to be measured.
Looking to lose weight - track your weight on the scales, or take simple measurements of key areas (hips, waist and thighs).
Looking to add muscle mass - track your calorie intake, weight, and if you have the correct scales, measure your muscle mass simultaneously.
Improving cardiovascular fitness - perform a fitness test at the start of your training, and aim to beat it within 6-8 weeks.
Whatever you can track easily, you should do so. There is nothing more frustrating than putting in so much hard work not to find out whether it has worked or not. This is particularly true in weight loss, where most people will not track their calorie intake to ensure they are in a calorie deficit in a false hope that exercise in its isolation will be enough to help reach the desired weight goal or dress size.
Recovery maketh greatness
This wouldn't be a complete list without one of our commandments involving recovery.
You only need to glance over at how top-level athletes and sports professionals conduct themselves following competition and training sessions to understand the acute margins between being able to train as hard as you did yesterday and having to give your session a miss because you're just too sore, stiff and tired.
Recovery methods are becoming more accessible to the general public, especially those who train multiple times a week or compete in endurance sports such as triathlon; their training regimes are pretty rigorous. Methods can include sports massage, wearing compression garments, or even as simple as optimising your post-workout nutrition with a protein shake.
At Namix, we have partnered with HyperIce, one of the world's leading brands in recovery tools, to ensure our members and patients access the latest technology of massage guns, vibrating foam rollers and massage balls. Coupled with our sports injury clinic and a team of staff with over 25 years of experience, it is something that we feel is going to become standard within leisure settings.
So if you are somebody who struggles with many injuries, you may want to consider what types of support can be provided to you within your gym!