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Gym Noobs Do the Darndest Things!


You hear all sorts of interesting things at the gym. There’s the guys on the weight machines grunting like constipated Neanderthals; calls over the loudspeaker for the next tanning client/skin cancer volunteer; TV’s playing either “SportsCenter” or some show featuring the Kardashians; and homeboys in the locker room talking “Modern Warfare 3.”

Don't be a noob

All sounded perfectly normal the other day as I worked on my second set on the chest press. That is until the gym owner came out of the office screaming at some kids using a Power Squat machine. I couldn’t see what these young-ins were doing from my point of view, but from his reaction it was pretty apparent these guys (from the amount of zits they looked about 16) were using the machine in a completely backasswards manner.

You wouldn’t put an untrained person behind the wheel of a big-rig truck, right? Would you let a newbie set up a pyrotechnics display? While certainly not as life-threatening (or insane), working out without proper training or assistance can lead to serious injury.

As a noob, it can be tempting to walk into a gym, pick up some weights, look at the guy in the Tapout shirt next to you (he must know what he’s doing) and start lifting like you’re getting ready for your next time in the cage. Without knowing the proper form or technique, however, you’re more likely to end up watching fights from the comfort of a hospital bed if you attempt to lift free weights beyond your ability and/or with improper form.

For many beginners, machines seem like Weightlifting for Dummies, impossible to F up. Wrong. See those stickers on all the machines with the crash test dummy lookalikes on them? They’re there for a reason. If you don’t follow the recommended procedure for using said machines, you’re bound to accomplish nothing and/or do damage. A dummy you’ll be.

And weight training isn’t the only exercise you can mess up. Take cardio for instance. You’re just as likely to screw up elliptical training as you are arm curls. Whether it’s letting the machine do all the work for you, failing to stretch, or improper pronation, cardio workouts require proper form and technique.

For the guys who already know what they’re doing, how about steering the less informed in the right direction? Think about how much you would have appreciated it if some kind muscle-bound person had told you in the beginning that butterflies weren’t for training the legs. You might save some 16-year-old from a hefty medical bill and/or from looking like a complete idiot.

If you’re a fitness virgin, educate yourself as much as you possibly can before attempting a new workout, as each requires something different from your body. Hiring a personal trainer is obviously the ideal. There are also plenty of DVD’s and decent YouTubers out there that can provide you with the proper advice for each type of workout.  With all the information and resources available, there’s no reason why you should be pulling any muscles (or dropping dumbbells on your feet.)

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About John Brhel

John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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