Gymtards #1

1 09 2010

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, but I kept getting hung up on wanting to make it as comprehensive as possible. Then it occurred to me that I can just make this a recurring theme, so here’s the first.

I’ve been working out on and off (more on, lately) since I was about 12. I’ve done a lot of different things, lost (and then regained) a lot of weight, and I like to think I’ve learned quite a bit, especially over the past 5-6 years as the Internet has made access to reliable training and nutritional information readily available.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of other people, especially at commercial gyms, that I tend to think of as “gymtards.” This term is probably a little harsh, but it does drive the point home: many, and perhaps most, people working out these days are making major mistakes. This may just mean that they’re not progressing as well as they could, but it could mean that they are doing things that are entirely contrary to their goals. I probably wouldn’t care if they didn’t frequently prevent me from using equipment I want to use.

I’m not claiming to be any kind of authority on training, but I have spent a lot of time reading information and research from leading trainers and coaches, and applying those things to myself, so I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. My intention here is to draw attention to many of the common mistakes that people make, and in so doing hopefully encourage some of them to better educate themselves.

So with that introduction out of the way, I want to get to what inspired me to finally get this posted: the leg press.

The leg press is not a useless exercise. The biggest problem with it is that people use it instead of squatting and deadlifting, rather than as a support exercise, which is what it should be. What’s worse is that many of the people I see doing it aren’t even doing it properly. Lately, I’ve witnessed a number of people who load the leg press up with as many plates as possible, and then move it through a tiny range of motion, as illustrated in this video I captured last night:

If this guy were to actually attempt to go though a full range of motion, the ridiculous amount of weight that he’s using would drive his knees through his chest and into the pad behind him. He may feel like he’s accomplishing something, but the truth is, he’s probably getting more out of loading the weight onto the leg press machine than he is out of the tiny movements he’s doing.

There is a time and place for using a partial range of motion, but this is an advanced technique, used by people who are legitimately moving massive amounts of weight and trying to overcome weak points. Most people should be using a full range of motion, and if you can’t do that with the weight you’re using, check your ego at the door and reduce the weight. You’ll benefit more in the long run.




One response

4 09 2010

Nice one. Perhaps that video should be submitted to FAIL Blog.

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