Thursday, April 7, 2016

Wasting Time in Kentucky

A sweet lamp at the entrance of the gym
My family and I recently took a short vacation in Kentucky. It's a favorite getaway of ours, close enough to drive in a day and far enough south that we can taste an early spring. This year was no exception. It was a delightful trip.

I'm preparing for a meet in a few weeks, and I had to find a place to train. I found a place not too far away that was kind enough to give me a week's pass. I got two good sessions in. In the process, I got to see what goes on in a commercial gym.

On two beautiful Kentucky spring afternoons, I saw lots of people come to the gym. This is good and shows dedication. These are people who are serious about exercise, at least serious enough to get in the car and come to the gym. Once there, they proceeded to waste all of their time.

I saw the following:

  • Biceps curls
  • Preacher curls
  • Bench presses (partial ROM)
  • Incline bench presses (partial ROM)
  • Lateral dumbbell raises
  • Long, slow cardio
  • Behind the back forearm curls
What I did not see:
  • Squats, deadlifts
(Full disclosure: three people did reasonable attempts at squats, but they were a rare exception.)

All of the lifters were weak. Most of them were skinny. One poor boy had his father instructing him. Dad gave him a series of biceps curl variations to do. For two hours! 

Gym time is precious. Most of us can't spend all day there. Wouldn't you like to get the biggest bang for your buck? You get bigger and stronger faster if you do full-body moves with lots of weight. In other words, squats, deadlifts, presses, bench presses, and power cleans. The curling kid could have done 3x5 on the squat, 3x5 on a press, a set of deadlifts, and then stopped for a gallon of milk on the way home in half the time he spent curling. He would have gotten much more benefit as well. 

They could all have trained more efficiently, gotten more benefit, and then could have enjoyed the rest of what their fair state has to offer:

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