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The Seven Deadly Vices of Training

By Jamie Lloyd

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London…
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Getting real results in the gym involves hard work. It's definitely a lot harder if your form isn't right, nutrition is out of alignment or your sleep is out of sync. But there's a lot more you have to do to help support your training and recover properly.

So the next time you use that TRX, Kettlebell or hit the treadmill think about these training vices that fitness expert Jamie Lloyd has come up with…  Fix these and you'll see some massive gains in your training!

the vices of training

Vice #1 – You’re addicted to quantity

Look, we've all been there and wanted to do an extra set, an extra interval on the treadmill or lift another rep, but this isn't always going to be beneficial to you especially if you've not been to the gym in a while.

In this case, the temptation will be to spend an hour in the gym trying to make up for lost time and cane your body. As great as that seems on paper, the reality is you will increase your risk of injury due to over use and may even hinder your training long term.

Virtue #1 – Train for quality

Instead of trying to beast yourself off the bat, keep your sessions down to 45-60 minutes and make sure you have a plan to follow rather walking around trying to do a bit of everything.  Walking into the gym with a clear understanding of what you want to do and achieve will mean success – trust me!

Vice #2 - You just LOVE bicep curls

It's too easy to stick with one piece of equipment, fall in love with it and do the same exercise week in week out. Yes, you will see initial results, but your body is very smart and will soon figure out the most efficient, but less effective, way to perform that exercise.

And you know what this means… fewer gains.

Virtue #2 – Switch it up

Man lifting weights

If you really want to challenge your central nervous system and make a difference to your physique - vary your training every 4-8 weeks, or when you begin to notice your muscles adapting to a certain training style.

This doesn't mean switching out your supersets for just bodyweight exercises rather small variations will make big differences.

Take a pull up for example, by simply changing your grip or even reducing the tempo you'll stimulate your body and give yourself a new challenge too.

Or even why don't you pick up the Olympic bar instead of using dumbbells to do those curls you love?  Yes,even trying out a different piece of equipment you haven’t touched in a while can have a huge impact!  So don't be afraid to test yourself… the results will be worth it.

Vice #3 – You focus on the wrong strength

Head into any gym and you'll see loads of people pumping iron like there's no tomorrow.  What you don't often see, however – probably because it doesn't really get talked about much - are those gym bunniestraining their grip strength.

This has a massive carry over into contact sports like rugby or martial arts and also has a huge impact on your Olympic Lifts and everyday strength and conditioning. 


man exercising his arms

Having outstanding grip strength will naturally help your other lifts go up having a knock on effect of increasing the amount of weight you can lift and, thus, your gains. Makes sense, right?!

Virtue #3 - Train your grip

Personally, I often vary my grip training again to challenge my body and create a new stimulus.  Ideally you shouldaim to train your grip 1-2 times a week and doing so really couldn't be easier…

For starters why don't you try hanging from a chin up bar for 30 - 60 secs at the end of your workout, or even try holding two weight plates using pinch grip in between sets?

You could even hold two heavy kettlebells weighing 32kgs plus for as long as possible – all of these things will help increase your overall grip strength, and boy, will you feel the arm pump!  Then, the next time you go to lift, you will notice a massive difference in your overall strength gains…

Vice #4 – Your recovery is an afterthought

OK, so you've probably got your post-workout nutrition on point which will help with recovery.  You might even be one of the few who spend a few minutes warming down at the end of a session. 

But what I really don't understand how people can spend a fortune on gym gear, supplements, fitness gadgets, gym memberships and still they don't factor a regular massage into their training and recovery. 

The benefits of doing so are incredible, and should definitely become a regular fixture of your recovery programme.

Virtue #4 - Get a weekly massage

Having regular massage will not only help increase blood flow to the working muscles, but it will help lower cortisol levels by relaxing those aching limbs.  A recent study (1) also found that just a 10 minutes massage post workout can actually manipulate two specific genes in the muscle cells.

  • Gene 1 – decreases the inflammation caused by exercise, negating, or at leastreducing the onset of DOMS.
  • Gene 2 – ramps up the production of mitochondria in the muscles, your cells inner power stations, so the cells themselves can absorb any post workout nutrition more rapidly.

So if your goal is to strip body fat and get lean then try getting a massage in every 1-2 weeks. You will feel so much better, and notice a difference in your posture, sleep, energy and recovery rate.

Vice #5 – You feel guilty for having a rest day

Again we have all been there and smashed the gym 5/6 days in the row. The result… massive aches and pains, stiff joints and not being able to walk for days!

Your body NEEDS to rest for recovery.  This is when it has time to grow and, as a result, you'll make better gains.

man swimming

Virtue #5 - Take a break, have a… rest day

Or even multiple rest days per week!

Remember our body's need more time to recover after brutal sessions, so focus on doing 3-4 decent sessions a week with rest days in between.

Of course, if the thought of sitting on your sofa catching up on Netflix makes you feel itchy, you could always try active recovery.  Try some light swimming, do some mobility and stretch work or do a light yoga session or even some meditation so switch the mind off things. 

Vice #6 – You rely on chicken, broccoli and rice

It may be the easy option to eat the same thing day in day out – especially if you’ve spent your Sunday prepping, but don't always go for the same meat or vegetables.

For starters, it's boring. 

healthy muscle foods

Secondly, much like your training, your body gets used to what you're eating and you might inadvertently find yourself deficient in some mineral or vitamin – not good. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, it's BORING (again!) and you'll probably fall off the healthy wagon.

Virtue #6 - Vary Your Diet.

Mix up what you eat a bit like your training… At Muscle Food, they have a huge selection of high quality food to choose from, so there's really no excuse to not try new things.

Try not to eat the same thing twice a week and use different oils in your cooking like coconut oil or avocado oil.

This will change up your cooking and also taste better too let alone add a huge significance to your health. It will also transform your kitchen, and your body!

Vice #7 – You avoid exercises you don’t “like”

If there is an exercise you absolutely hate in the gym, it’s likely this is the one you really should be working on. 

The reason why you don't like it is probably rooted in the fact that that muscle or group of muscles just aren't up to scratch and by working on them, you'll have a better all-round physique and outlook on training.

woman working out

Virtue #7 - Practice makes perfect.

It's true, practice really does make perfect.  So if there's an exercise you don't like – be sure to incorporate it into your daily routine to reap the benefits.

Better yet, why don't you go and learn something new and be awesome at it?!  Not only will it give you a confidence boost in the gym but will give your body a new stimulus.

If you are a little scared about something, however, do it at the beginning of your session while you have better motor control and proprioception. 

For example, if you want to learn how to squat better, then do them first after a proper warm up with a decent coach who can help you with technique and form rather than try and do them on your own at the end of the session when you're likely to make mistakes.

Aim to do 3-5 sessions a week, do them well and keep practising.  Soon you'll be squatting like a pro!

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 [email protected] for personal training, group fitness training and nutrition coaching

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


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