It’s not all ab shots and #transformationtuesdays, there are times when being a fitness addict can leave you speechless and not because you just smashed your PB. Here’s how to cure the most common issues taking over your life, in and out of the gym.
1. Always having to wait for a bench
The problem: Your gym only has one flat bench. Good luck wrestling it from the bros spotting each other on their 12-set workout.
The fix: Rethink your chest routine. According to many trainers, the flat bench isn’t even the best move for chest development. Your pec muscles are really designed for bringing your arms inward, towards your chest. That’s why flyes work so incredibly well. Another alternative: do a press-up, but at the top, ‘squeeze’ your hands towards each other without taking them off the floor, for a three-count.
2. Finding jeans that fit is a nightmare
The problem: XXL legs but a 32in waist? If you’ve ever so much as glanced at a squat machine you may as well shop for unicorn dust.
The fix: “If your glutes aren’t activating properly then your quads will do all the work, which is why they’re getting so big,” says trainer Jessica Wolny. “Activate them with a pause glute bridge. Lie on your back with your heels close to your glutes, press through your heels to raise your hips, and hold for five seconds at the top. Repeat.”
3. Your workout clothes never smell quite right
The problem: 90-minute hot wash? Doesn’t matter. Five minutes into your workout, that ingrained sweat-smell is back. To those nearby, you may as well not have washed at all.
The fix: Lycra and Spandex are part of the problem. They repel water, which is fine when you’re training, but less so when you’re trying to wash them. Wash them as soon as you’re finished and chuck in a bit of lemon juice. Citric acid helps break down the bacteria, then hang them outside to dry.
4. Forgetting your headphones
The problem: The auto-tuned American Idol rejects on the stereo in most gyms will easily take 10kg off your squat. Basically, if you’ve forgotten your Iron Maiden megamix, is it even worth going to the gym?
The fix: “You can’t always expect circumstances to be perfect,” says trainer Dan John. If Olympic athletes can learn to perform under pressure, in front of huge crowds, on unfamiliar turf – you can probably put up with a little Taytay.
5. Trying to say no to office treats
The problem: Croissants for a Monday meeting. Doughnuts on Friday. Cakes for birthdays, drinks when someone leaves and biscuits all of the time.
The fix: Switch “Can’t” for “Don’t,” and try adding a clause, as in, “Thanks, but I don’t eat cake during the week.” That way your colleagues are less likely to try and sway you for their own amusement.
6. Sweating hours after a gym session
The problem: Lunch gym session done, but you’re at your desk and the stains are back!
The fix: Don’t opt for the icy shower. They will mess up your thermoregulation so keep it at body temperature. Instead, hold your wrists under a running cold tap – you’ve got major blood vessels closest to the surface, so you’ll lose heat rapidly.
7. Climbing stairs after leg day
The problem: You train to be physically capable. Yet, every week, you’re hauling yourself up stairs via the handrail.
The fix: Focus on moves that eliminate the ‘down’ part of squats. Jump squats, Olympic lifts and sled pushes all have minimal downward motion.
8. Being so hydrated, it becomes a… problem
The problem: Eight glasses of water a day? HA! Try three liters, or maybe even four. You might not miss out on a PB because of dehydration, but you’re losing an hour’s productivity a day in bathroom breaks.
The fix: Make sure you’re actually taking that water on board, not just tipping it straight through. A pinch of salt – or, if you can’t handle the flavour, sodium citrate – will help your body hydrate better, while replacing electrolytes.
9. Going to bed too early but never feeling rested
The problem: You need eight hours and if that means turning in at 9pm, so be it.
The fix: It’s quality over quantity in this case and it’s all to do with your surroundings. “Make your bedroom as dark as you can by taping over standby lights from TVs and switching off your phone,” says trainer Dan John. This will help up your melatonin which will dramatically improve the quality of Zs.
10. That ungodly smell of a protein shaker
The problem: Left unwashed it might be salvageable, but it won’t be pretty.
The fix: Bacteria feeds off the high density of amino acids, reproducing at high speed and giving off that kill-it-with-fire scent. Get yourself a steel shaker to stop this happening as often as steel is a lot easier to clean.
11. Stopping at service stations
The problem: Already cleaned out the road trip lunch you packed? You can try to find a healthy alternative, or just get a dirty bacon double burger.
The fix: Service stations don’t have to be unhealthy if you really try. “Beef jerky or biltong, a packet of unsalted nuts and a piece of fruit is always a solid option,” says Wolny. And for your tipple? Water, green tea or black coffee are best.
12. Having permanently bruised shins
The problem: Stupid, shin-decorating deadlifts. On the plus side, coming out with scraped legs means you’re doing it right, right?
The fix: Unfortunately it’s kind of unavoidable. However, chalk, soccer shin guards or long socks might mitigate the pain. Alternatively, get your deadlift to a good level, then do it every fortnight and you can reduce the purple spots on your body.
13. Finding the scoop in a new protein container
Sorry, buddy. Nothing you can do about this except get protein covered fingers.
14. Aching calluses
The problem: Up to a point, they’re a badge of honour. Proof that yes, you lift bro, with bars made of metal and not a glove in sight. Leave them unchecked though and there’s a chance they’ll rip, which you really don’t want.
The fix: Fix your grip. If you’re keeping the bar centred in your palm for deadlifts or pull-ups, it’ll tease the skin into a peak as you take the strain, making tears more likely. Instead, hold it at the base of your palm close to your fingers which will minimize skin being trapped. Chalk will also help to fill in those skinfolds.
If you’ve already let things go too far, the only fix is to file your calluses down. After a bath or shower, get a pumice stone and gently rub away any peaks, then moisturise.
15. Poor selfie game
The problem: Smile or duckface? Stick or hand? Background clutter – to make it less narcissistic – or a nice flat wall? These things take time.
The fix: All of the above are personal decisions but, what isn’t open to interpretation, is your lighting, which should come from almost directly above to make your abs pop best. With that sorted, all you need is a filter. FYI, Insta’s Clarendon gets the most likes across the board. Be aware that a Birmingham Business School report found selfies were the most deplorable types of shots, least likely to garner likes, so get your lifting partner to snap it if you’re looking to generate some click bait.
Find tips as well as advice and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.