Whether it's coming from a clueless bro or a well-meaning personal trainer, bad gym advice is everywhere. Learn which common tips you should ignore.

Leave it to a gym bro or a bad trainer to saturate the industry with misinformation.

It’s funny how rapidly the wrong stuff spreads and how hard it is to get clients and trainees to do what’s good for them when it comes to strength training. If you could get results by following the instruction of these guys, the world would be jacked.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), that’s not the reality. These guys do more harm than good by taking well-intended trainees away from progress with misguided methods to prevent them from training intuitively.

Here are 7 of my favorite miscues. Make sure you’re on the lookout.

1. Feet Shoulder Width Apart

Whether you’re squatting, deadlifting, or doing any other movement, this cue has got to be the most common. I hate it simply because it doesn’t take into consideration the differences in human anthropometry.

Related: Squats - 3 Things You've Been Doing Wrong

Someone with very wide shoulders, very narrow hips, and a full coverage acetabulum would have plenty of issues when squatting if he were to use a directive like the one above.

The truth? It depends.

Find the squat stance that works best for you to emphasize good form and good depth. Chances are, it’s going to be different than the next guy’s.

Complete Line of BSN Supplements

2. Don't Let Your Knees Pass Your Toes

Just like I mentioned in the last subheading, performing squats without letting the knees come forward would be perfectly fine for a lifter who’s got short legs, a long torso, and relatively short femurs. For even a lifter of average proportions, however, this directive is bollocks.

This is intended to keep the knees safes, but in reality it restricts knee and ankle range of motion, while promoting more hip flexion than should be needed for a true squat. The result is a squat that resembles a good morning, and a weak max effort.

This is taken a step further when people attempt to train themselves or their clients for “good form” by using the wall squat. Check out this video to explain why I hate it, and for more on the knees passing the toes.

3. Look Up While Deadlifting and Squatting

It’s often encouraged to keep a high chin and head position, and even to pick a “target” on the ceiling while squatting or deadlfiting in order to emphasize good posture and a strong pull or push. The reality of the situation is that all you’re doing by applying this cue is putting your neck into unhealthy cervical extension.

Related: Deadlift Domination - How To Hit Your Biggest Pull Yet

The spine should be neutral when bearing load, and looking upwards completely negates this rule and puts the cervical vertebrae in harm’s way.

When training, make sure the head follows the torso, and the chin stays tucked. Think “packed neck”. Watch this set of heavy deadlifts to get a visual of the right idea.

4. Don't Break 90 Degrees on Any Exercise

Straight up, this is just ridiculous.

The guys that usually say this are matchstick skinny and have barely trained a day in their lives.

Squatting deep isn’t bad for your knees, and benching or pressing with full range of motion isn’t bad for your shoulders. This thinking permeates the industry without considering the fact that anything is dangerous when poor technique is applied.

Your body was made to travel through full ranges of motion, that shouldn’t disappear when weight bearing comes into the equation.

5. Train Low Reps and Heavy Weight for Size

This isn’t as bad as the others as far as general guidelines go, but it’s still worth mentioning that it’s an extremely introductory “rule”.

As a lifter becomes more intermediate, he realizes that training for size is usually a product of volume and intensity. Adding particular supplements to manipulate that system, such as minimized rest time and extended sets can send this cue to the crypt in a hurry.

Doing 4 sets of 8 isn’t horrible, but for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (which is the key for cosmetic size), you must consider how to train the muscle in isolation, and then get your nutrition game on point to satisfy your goals.

Complete Line of BSN Supplements!

6. Increase the Weight for Progressions

In truth, “progress” can and should be measured in a less black-and-white fashion. Immediately lifters and gym rats often revert to adding more weight to quantify progress in any given exercise.

Don’t get me wrong – progressive overload is important and even essential - but it doesn’t work quite as effectively when you’re doing unilateral movements or corrective exercises to supplement your big lifts.

Instead, view progression with a more open mind:

  • Increasing weight
  • Increasing range of motion
  • Increasing rep range
  • Increasing time under tension via tempo changes
  • Decreasing rest interval

Especially when you’re looking to gain size, it’s important to manipulate the system and find ways to make light weight feel heavy. Applying the above tactics will do just that.

7. The Weight's Too Heavy if you have to Move your Torso

Many training textbooks and schools will recommend any row variation be completed with a completely rigid torso. Nothing’s wrong with this, until the weight gets heavy and you’ve graduated from complete beginner level instruction.

Holding an isometric contraction through the spinal erectors while retracting the shoulder blades and pulling (in any direction) will place a ceiling on how much your arms can lift. You won’t get additional back stimulation from keeping this technique.

With that said, it’s not “cheating” if you use a properly timed toprock with good form. That means keeping the back flat and performing a small hinge from the hip joint to start each rep.

This is difficult to articulate in writing, so without further adieu, here’s a video to explain.

Takeaway

For some reason, many people neglect to ask the simple question “why?” when blanket cues are so freely thrown around the training world. It’s important that you do, because it could mean the difference between a broken, skinny body, and one that’s healthy and strong.

On top of this, it’s essential to help you learn your own body, rather than be confined to the strictures of someone’s random cookie-cutter directions. Make like Spike Lee and do the right thing.

3 Comments
Kirk Latimer
Posted on: Sun, 01/31/2016 - 15:40

Overall, good article. I am an experienced bodybuilder, and I have one disagreement. Squatting PAST 90 degrees does not stimulate more muscle fibers as scientific testin has shown. It doesn't mean I won't alter my ranges of motion to change up routines, but the truth of the matter is that squatting beyond paralell is very hard on the knees and actually takes emphasis of the bearing weight off of target leg muscles.

M&S Team Badge
MikeWines
Posted on: Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:07

Kirk,
Actually squatting below 90 degrees most definitely does increase muscular recruitment if you've read any of the research on the topic: http://www.apec-s.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/forces-with-the-deep-sq...

Shearing forces on the knees actually peak at around 90 degrees and then decrease as you go into higher levels of knee and hip flexion. The "myth" that squatting is bad or hard on your knees is just that, a myth. Now, if you biomechanics are poor or you're lacking activation within specific stabilizing musculature than sure, you might wind up with some knee pain. However, that has nothing to do with the movement, it has to do with you personal anatomy and movement patterns.

No exercise is inherently bad if you understand how to manipulate it for the desired effect. Yes, there will be a larger contribution from the stretch shortening cycle curing a deep squat but that is certainly not going to limit to amount of time under tension or decrease the hypertrophy stimulus.

When reading articles or examining research, you must keep your personal biases out of the argument. As I mentioned in one of my own articles: "Remember, if you let the fear of complexity or personal biases influence your influx of knowledge, you’ll never be able to reach your true potential due to the self-limiting factor of your own beliefs."

Dean
Posted on: Sun, 01/31/2016 - 13:36

Good training advice but then you go and sell out advertising the worst supplement s like no explode and all the other crap for profit you seem to know your stuff but I know you know these products are a load of shite but you let them on your page cause you make money shame on you.