Shape up daily workout

Published 10:55 am Friday, March 11, 2011

Having been a personal trainer for some 25 years, errors people make in the gym jump out at me. These mistakes not only drive me nuts, they keep people from making real progress. Also, most are easily corrected.

The first thing to remember is just because you darken the door of a gym, or visit a personal training studio, doesn’t mean you’re going to get in shape. Here are a few ways to take poor situations in the gym, and turn them around to your benefit.

1) Sacrificing good form for speed. When I’m training a client, I not only pace their workout, I pace every movement. When weight training, there are two points of stress – the muscles and the joints. The goal here is to take pressure off joints, and put it on the muscles.

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By performing exercise movements slowly and controlled, most of the pressure is put on the muscles, not the joints. This keeps joints healthy, while working the muscles more effectively. You’ll also burn more calories by slowing your repetition movements.

2) Not warming up properly. This is a big one! There is a lubricating fluid that surrounds your joints, called “synovial fluid”. Before exercise, this fluid is thick, sort of gel-like. When you warm up before you work out though, this fluid takes on more of a “viscous” consistency. This better lubricates the joints to protect them.

3) Not staying hydrated. Remember, you’re constantly losing water from your skin and your breath.

What I tell clients is this…if your skin is damp, you’ve lost pints of water. If your skin is wet, you’ve lost quarts. Also, muscle is 70 to 75 percent water, so if you are dehydrated, it’s like running on flat tires. Additionally, drinking cool water will burn more calories, than drinking tepid water, because your body has to warm up the cool water to your body’s normal temperature.

Be careful though. If you’re really hot, cool down some first, before you drink really cold water. If your body is really hot, cold water could throw you into shock.

4) Doing weight training exercises in the wrong order. Although there are many different weight training strategies, that I don’t have room in this writing to go into, one of the most basic, is to train larger muscles to smaller ones. In other words, start your workouts, by training your larger muscle groups, then work your way to your smaller ones.

Your training order should go something like this: legs, back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps and abdominals. Always do your abs last.

The reason for this is that abdominal muscles are “stabilizer” muscles. You can’t do any exercise without using you abdominal muscles. If you work these muscles early on, during your routine, you’ll be weaker for all your other exercises. Use these tips to make real progress in the gym.

Nutrition or fitness question? Email me at or visit

David Crocker of Landrum has served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., strength coach S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, lead trainer L.H. Fields modeling agency, taught four semesters at USC-Union David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.