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Quality beats quantity and 14 other top training tips for the gym

David Last looks at some of the most basic but effective advice you can take on board.

Image: Shutterstock/ueuaphoto

THIS WEEK’S ARTICLE is a landmark one for me. It’s the 50th one of the fitness column here on The42 and from the very first piece I’ve tried to give you, the reader, as much information as possible to help you on your health and fitness journey.

The feedback over the last 18 months has been brilliant and any ideas for future articles or topics are always very welcome.

Having worked in the fitness industry for the last decade, I have seen and experienced pretty much everything and I’ve tried to get all of the core messages across to you each week.

The topics have varied from workouts to mobility work to nutrition and I have always tried to deliver the information in a clear, concise and easy to digest manner.

For this week’s article, I’m going to go back and give you 15 of my top tips in relation for you to consider when you’re trying to achieve your own individual goals.

1. The primary goal for anyone should be to move more

A lot of time we get bogged down on which gym to join, which programme to start and which craze to buy into but my advice is always to just get up and moving in whatever form. I see people think about it too much and then inevitably stall, so why don’t you just get off the sofa to start and take baby steps from there? Don’t try to do too much too soon.

2. Aim to exercise at least three times a week

shutterstock_235516651 Source: Shutterstock/holbox

If it’s important to you then you will find time.

Most people should be able to find slots in the day to exercise and if you can’t find a full hour, try and find little pockets in the day that will help you out.

From cycling to work, going for a walk on your lunch break to working with a friend or trainer who will hold you accountable, there really isn’t an excuse.

3. Keep it varied, but effective

Having a variation to your training is key.

A well structured training programme will not only keep it challenging for you but once you have all the areas covered and is relative to yourself then it can only help you achieving your goals. Vary your training by including  some mobility and strength work alongside some form of conditioning work.

4. It shouldn’t be a chore

If you are a person who joins the gym in January and is nowhere to be seen on the gym floor come March then you need to assess what you might actually enjoy.

Time and time again I see people sign up to 12 month memberships and have lost interest a few weeks later due to boredom, lack of interest or just not really having a clue of what they’re doing.

The list is endless on things to do nowadays and you don’t need to focus your fitness regime around the gym. There are park workouts, outdoor sports, cycling tracks, running circuits and much much more that you can look to use and get involved with. Find something you will enjoy and make it a part of your day that you look forward to.

5. Your mental fitness

Your physical fitness is important, however your mental fitness is just as important.

For me, fitness isn’t always about lifting weights, running or going under the bar to hit a heavy squat. Spending time on your mindset is something I would encourage everybody to incorporate into their fitness routine.

As a personal trainer I have seen the huge benefit with some clients who are treating exercise as a path to help them with their own personal battles. This article gives you three great ways to improve your mental fitness.

6. Assessment is key

shutterstock_362436515 Source: Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

It’s good to measure things in relation to your fitness and it’s something I always stress: ‘if you aren’t assessing then you are really only guessing.’

Remember any trainer can make a workout and make you sweat but it’s good trainers who will pinpoint the far more important areas that need attention first to build a good solid foundation.

7. You can’t beat the basics

I have been around the industry long enough to know what is useful and what is absolutely rubbish. Training fads come and go but it’s the basics that have always stuck around and been most effective.

Basic movements like squats, push-ups and pull-ups are things you should be looking to work towards getting right initially.These exercises will help you build a solid foundation from which you can build once you get consistent and stronger at these movements.

Other areas like basic flexibility/mobility standards are also very important. Being able to touch your toes while in a seated floor position, perform a basic couch or pigeon stretch, or complete shoulder dislocates correctly are all important standards I like to see clients meet.

8. Quality beats quantity

You are far better off getting three quality sessions done right as opposed to five 5 sloppy sessions in the week.

The fitness industry is constantly selling you intensity but believe it or not the best way to get the best results is listening to your body more and doing things that you need to work on.

Most people think they need to be training constantly in order to achieve their goals when really they might be better off doing active recovery sessions, aiming to get good quality sleep or even managing their stress a little better.

Focusing on quality will keep you on track and will lessen the risk of burnout, fatigue or even loss of interest.

9. Slow down to speed up

Something I am constantly telling my clients is slow down to speed up. Incorporating things like yoga, mediation or even a simple walk is something that you should try. It might not sound much but believe me it will help you out in the long run.

10. Hard work, consistency and patience

stretch Source: Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Nothing is easy to achieve and if it is you haven’t set your goals properly. We are constantly being told about quick fixes but if it’s too good to be true then it probably is.

Making positive changes to your physical and mental health all comes down to hard work, consistency and patience. It won’t come easy within 14 days and if it does it’s 100% not sustainable in the long run.

11. Mechanics, consistency then intensity

This is a three step approach I like to use with all my clients. After assessment we don’t dive into the deep end with high intensity workouts but we learn new movements, fix any problems and then work our way up. Again, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

12. The squat

The squat is the king of all exercises and is a movement I would have in almost everyone’s programme. It is a basic and very funcational movement which we generally do on a daily basis anyway. If you want to fix your squat then this article and video will help you fix your squat.

13. Do some form of strength training

shutterstock_199731338 Source: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

No matter your age, gender or training level I feel strength training is a must for anyone’s workout programme. I would generally encourage people to pick movements that will give them the best benefit, and to work on their weaknesses.

I would focus on compound movements such as squats and deadlifts along with plenty of pulling, pressing and some core drills. I have previously highlighted five of the best exercises for your gym programme and you can bring all of these into the strength portion of your session.

14. Do some form of mobility work

This is a very important part of your session. I’ve seen many approaches over the years; from those who do nothing at all to to the 15-minute foam-rolling session.

The goal here is to set aside 10-15 minutes for getting warm, loose and to work on the areas of your body that are stiff, inactive or immobile.

Having access to tools like resistance bands, foam rollers and lacrosse balls will help. If you are unsure on what to do then find a trainer who will guide you down the right path.

15. You don’t need the best equipment

Like I have said before you don’t need the best equipment for the most effective workouts. A simple set of resistance bands, gym rings, along with a kettlebell and you are pretty much set up to train yourself in some shape or form. Here are some excellent full body workouts which require little or no equipment.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

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