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Bicep Curls are Useless and Smith Machine Squats Pointless - How Many of These Fitness Myths Do You Believe?

By Jamie Lloyd

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London…
Read more.

If you’re a super busy person and want to squeeze in a quick workout, you’ll want your training to be as efficient as possible. Avoid these seven common mistakes and train smarter.

Remember even with a decent warm-up and cool-down, you can be in and out of the gym in less than 45 minutes so there’s no time for useless exercises.

Check out Jamie Lloyd’s top seven training myths…

7 Training Mistakes YOU’RE Making in the Gym! By Jamie Lloyd

1. Bicep curls

You rarely lift anything with just your biceps. I see it all the time, most guys in the gym are still doing back and bi-s and chest and tricep days and leg and shoulder days. Get a grip!

Let's learn how to move first not train muscles. You see the guys doing chest and arm days end up with bad backs anyway and look like a possessed silverback with skinny legs.

Ok it's good to look muscular and big, but my idea of a gym session is dynamic movement, lots of joint mobility and functional movements like push, pull, squat, lunge, twist, jump, and curl. Not to mention training grip.

Bicep curls

Most of the time these days it's all about the selfie and having a 6 pack and massive arms. So the next time you go and do 5 sets of pull-ups go ask yourself if you are working your biceps?

You will definitely work your guns. Doing bicep curls just provide a little extra pump. In terms of performance, they don’t help much at all and in most cases, people over compensate and pull their backs out anyway to jerk the weight up.

So stick to pull-ups, cleans and bent over rows if you want strong guns.

2. Doing Power Walking On The Treadmill

Look unless you've broken your femur or going through rehab there's no point in power walking on the treadmill.

I really don't understand why people pay out for expensive gym memberships just to walk on a treadmill when they could do the same outside and get better results.

In fact it's so boring anyway there’s no fresh air to breath – plus you don't burn that many calories. If you love walking go find some hills and get outside as close to nature as possible along a beach or a canal or a forest.

3. Loads of ab crunches

Well where do we start? As there are a lot of great exercises that tax the neuromuscular system.

It depends on what you want really… all over conditioning? Strength? Core Strength? Rehabilitation…

Ab crunches

The goal of this exercise is to strengthen your core and lose the love handles and most people do them because they’re under the false assumption that doing them will give you a flat tummy – but this is not true.

Most people will also need to do high intensity weight training 3-4 times a week alongside a combination of proper sleep, hydration and following a daily regime of clean nutrition in order to lose some belly fat, so make sure you keep a close eye on your nutrition, too – in fact why don't you start by getting yours from Muscle Food.

4. Smith machine squats

An old school exercise that's pointless. Although the fixed path of the machine allows you to move more weight and removes the need for a spotter as you can lock the bar at any point.

Unfortunately the fixed path doesn’t allow for a natural plane of movement in the squat. This coupled with the fact that you’ll be tempted to use more weight than normal (because it feels easier) means that the smith machine is pretty terrible for your joints and carries a high risk of injury to the shoulders and lower back.

Most people load the plates onto the bar and can’t even put the plates back let alone squat properly. It doesn’t make sense.

Woman Using Kettlebells

5. Avoid The Disco

Every time I go to the gym I see people performing exercises as if they are in a disco or a circus. Don't get me wrong I love suspension training and trying new things, but if your main goal is fat loss or strength, try some late afternoon HIIT training.

Why afternoon?

Because your cortisol levels are at their lowest point between 4-6pm, therefore you increase the rate of growth hormone and speed up your fat loss. Basically, there is no reason to try an overly complicated combination of moves – like standing on a Swiss ball or doing a kettlebell snatches on a BOSU, for example – just for the sake of it.

You could get injured, then your training will take a back seat in the long term.

6. Leaning On Cardio Machines

Gym bikes

Okay, most of you have done it. But this isn't really an "exercise," but it definitely needs a mention. I know go on admit you've done it a few times.

Leaning (or clinging for dear life) to the treadmill and cross trainer is NOT beneficial; it does not make you lose weight of make you stronger. You're much better off decreasing the speed or incline and letting your legs do the work.

Putting unneeded stress on the wrists and shoulders doesn't help matters. And don't try and do push-ups off the bike either. Keep strength on your strength days and cardio on your cardio days and do it properly.

Think about it, the reason you're leaning/holding yourself up in the first place is to "make it easier."

You work hard to use proper form when lifting and cardio shouldn't be any different. So next time you feel the need to lean, just drop the speed or resistance down and save your energy for your strength session.

7. Behind The Neck Lat Pull Downs

If you have awesome shoulder flexibility that allows for full range of motion, behind-the-neck exercises are a waste of time, and at worst a shoulder injury waiting to happen.

They were popularized by powerlifters in the 70s, but that doesn’t mean we should all be doing them now.You need to have incredible shoulder flexibility to even hope to do them right, and even then they put the shoulders in very unnatural positions, and can put a lot of strain on the neck too.


group exercising with kettlebells

Play it safe and just stick to the traditional pulldowns and presses and pull the bar to down in front of you to your collar bone. Better still do some pull-ups with eccentric training. So up for 1 second and down for 4 seconds.

Jamie Lloyd

About Jamie

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London.

He can be contacted on contact@jamielloydfitness.com for personal training, group fitness training and nutrition coaching www.jamielloydfitness.com.

Alternatively, you can connect with Jamie via his Social Media Channels – FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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