It’s that time of year ladies and gentlemen. The leaves are changing colors, the temperatures are dropping, and everyone is dressing up and partaking in spooky shenanigans for Halloween, like wearing as little clothes as possible coupled with a pair of cat ears and calling it a ‘costume’.
Luckily me for I make a sexy cat. Meeeee-ow.
Turn on the TV this month and all you see is horror. Freddy Kruger is slicing up people in their dreams. Jigsaw is systemically murdering people in elaborate traps. And Jason Voorhees is killing a bunch horny teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake. Scary stuff.
But the horror isn’t just limited to the movies. There’s plenty to be afraid of in real life.
There’s plenty to be afraid of…at the gym.
Here are the six scariest training horrors any poor soul can witness.
1. Neglecting Strength Training
MY EYES OH GOD DON’T MAKE ME TYPE IT AGAIN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOOOOO.
Talk to any competent personal trainer or strength coach and tell them you have clients that skip strength training because it’s unsafe and watch the sheer terror engulf their soul.
Anyone who knows me knows I place strength training as the first and foremost thing that absolutely needs to be included in a training program regardless of your goal because of all the wonderful benefits that comes along with it. Neglecting it in favor of solely performing cardio is just…
From improving joint health, enhancing movement quality, shedding fat, adding lean muscle mass… the benefits of partaking in a quality strength training program are too long to list.
2. “Strength Training”
So you lift weights, eh?
Are those weights located in a studio where nothing weighs more than 15lbs?
Do you continue to frequent said studio and perform exercises with said 15lb weights even though you know you can probably handle more weight?
If you answered yes, congrats, you are now the star actor/actress in the new horror flick called “The Lost Results”. And it’s terrifying.
Listen, I’m not putting down anyone who enjoys working out in group fitness classes. It’s a group environment which can push you to exercise harder, hold you accountable, and provide some much needed motivation. These are all great things.
But at some point, you will get stronger from lifting those lighter weights. Soon, 15lbs as a ‘heavy’ option will not cut it anymore and you will plateau. Eventually, you’ll need to venture outside of the studio and work your way towards…the weight room.
I know the weight room can legitimately scare people (no joke here). But in all seriousness, your muscles and body will literally stop responding to a stimulus if that stimulus never changes. This is the principle of progressive overload at work. In order to keep getting stronger or seeing results, you’ll need to continually do juuuuust a little but more than what you did in your previous training session. If not, you’ll just be a hamster on a wheel… always moving but never going anywhere.
You ever see the movie The Sandlot? At the start of the movie, everyone is terrified of the neighborhood dog, Hercules. There’s rumors that he eats people, is a 200lb killing machine, etc. But after Benny successfully outruns the dog to retrieve a baseball from the dogs yard, Hercules turns out to be pretty cool and lovable. All the kids basically adopt him, love him, and live happily ever after. Especially Squints because he married Wendy Peffercorn.
Heavier weights are no different than that big scary dog. Don’t be afraid of them. Be afraid of how jealous you’ll make all your friends once you start lifting them.
3. Lopsided Programs
As scary as those two scenarios are, it can still get worse.
Lots of people are out there lifting weights. High five!
Lots of people are seeing results from it. High five!
But often something else lurks beneath the surface, slowly festering away…until it’s too late.
Bulging pecs and boulder biceps are something every guy wants. Every lady wants a toned midsection and sexy legs. So they work those things. And work them again. And again….and again. Before you know it, your program is pretty uneven and your body starts to hurt and you don’t know why.
You workout all the time, what the hell is the problem?!
Unfortunately lots of training programs out there are very ‘mirror muscle’ dominant, meaning people will tend to overwork the muscles they can see in the mirror (biceps, shoulders, chest, abs, quads) because those are the muscles that they see all the time. Then the ‘non-mirror muscles’ like the back, posterior shoulder, hamstrings, etc. get neglected by comparison.
This unbalanced approach to training can take its toll on the body because those ‘mirror muscles’ can often become very tight due to overuse. This subsequent tightness then pulls on joints which can cause alignment issues or put joints in precarious positions. Then because you’re all out of whack, things start to hurt but you don’t really know why… its like a mystery virus sweeping the nation but no one know where it originated.
As a general guideline, aim to have a 1:1 ratio for your mirror muscles and non mirror muscles in your training program.
Side note: if you have a job that requires you to be seated for hours on end or perhaps you already have shoulder issues, your ratio should be closer to 2:1 or 3:1 in favor of non mirror muscles. Adhering to the general guideline of 1:1 is like doing the bare minimum… like in horror movies when the protagonist “kills” the monster/murderer, but they only stab him in the chest ONE TIME. Then you’re just sitting there like “AW HELL NO GIRL HE AIN’T DEAD STAB HIM AGAIN SHOOT HIM AGAIN WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU’RE SO STUPID”. Aaaand sure enough the murderer comes back and almost kills her again?
Make sure you play it safe and work those non-mirror muscles harder to ensure you stay healthy longer.
4. Going Too Hard Too Often
I’m not a big horror movie fan, much to my wife’s dismay. But I can tolerate the classics if need be. You know, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, etc. And I’m sure you all know the main villain of the classic Halloween, Michael Myers.
No…er.. not that one.
Theeeeeere we go.
This guy never stops. Keeps on coming. He gets stabbed, shot, you name it. He just never stops.
And thats the next scary thing happening with training, seemingly more so nowadays then ever before.
There’s a big trend to go hard every single workout, every single day, every single week. And while pushing yourself is great, never downshifting out of 5th gear is not. Take your car for example. You can’t take sharp turns, accelerate quickly, slam on the brakes, and drive aggressively day in and day out without risking your car starting to wear down pretty quickly. The tread on the tires will wear, the brakes will deteriorate, your alignment will get all out of whack, etc. Hopefully you see my analogy.
Going hard all the time will especially take its toll if you combine it with my 3rd point (lopsided programs). And it will particularly frightening if you combine it with #5…
5. Neglecting Recovery Efforts
This is a graph representing supercompensation. Its quite simple.
You train hard. This results in tears and damage to the muscle fibers.
Your body recovers from training. It repairs itself to become stronger and more resilient to the stimulus that caused the damage in the first place.
Supercompensation occurs. Your body now has a higher performance capacity. You’re stronger.
So where do the actual ‘gains’ occur? During recovery! To backtrack a bit, this is why going hard all the time is not necessarily a good thing. You literally do not give your body a chance to recover and make progress.
Don’t be afraid to listen to your body if you just aren’t feeling it one day. It’s OK to cut volume, lessen intensity, or both on a given day.
So give your body some love in the form of foam rolling, massage, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and proper supplementation.
6. Ignoring Movement Quality
You ever do something you know you shouldn’t be doing, but you do it anyway?
Training is no different. Some people don’t have the mobility to do a squat, but do it anyway. Others have no upper body mobility but still perform endless pressing exercises. This can result in compensatory movements, which can lead to imbalances, which can lead to injuries.
Performing exercises and movements that result in pain is a pretty horrifying thing to do with your training. Pain is not good, despite what ‘hardcore’ fitness enthusiasts might tell you.
Don’t ignore the quality of your movement. How well you move will have a huge impact on your well being and overall health.
But as long as you steer clear of these 6 things, you should be able to enjoy your training even during this spooky time of year 🙂