Summer is approaching at last, temperature is starting to rise and hopefully the last of the ice and snow is out of the way but in Scotland you never know.

Now from the end of March through April I had noticed a massive reduction in the amount of gym goers, early risers and regular trainers. Not just the end of New Years resolutions but I think more we had hit that point where people become worn out!

Winter moved into spring, but the weather felt much the same. It was still pretty dark and grey in the mornings and that Winter slump had finally taken it’s toll on folks ability to continue….


Well we’ve finally broken out of that spell and the mornings are brightening up fast. With june approaching gym numbers are back on the rise and motivation is slowly returning to those sluggish feet.

You may be tempted to jump straight back in to a routine you were doing weeks or months back but sometimes it’s better off to start back in gradually and adjust before you smash it into overdrive for summer!

So this week I will betaking things back to basics and discussing how your current programme may be causing you more pain than gain.

New to the gym?

It can be daunting, it may seem everyone knows what they’re doing and judging you for not, but let me assure you that’s not the case! There is nothing wrong with being new to the gym and not knowing where to start. Even if you’ve been going to the gym for years and hitting all kinds of programme you may still have been making some really costly mistakes to progress and your body’s health.


If you revise every copy of Muscle and Fitness or Men’s/Women’s Health for the best tips on getting a six pack or 21″ arms you will probably become dis-heartened by your results. You can trudge through every youtube video on techniques and will probably end up confused by conflicting advice and information.

Don’t worry. There is a lot of good infomation out there and it doesn’t have to come from an expensive source.

A start should be your gym, they should be able to offer you advice and keep you on the path to fitness you are looking for. Not the case? May be time to move gyms and find one that can help support you rather than just take your money each month.

A personal trainer can be great although this will cost more money than a gym membership. that said you should be in good hands if you have done your homework and chosen a good trainer. Again your gym should be able to keep you on track.

You may even have a friend who knows how to lift. If they actually know how to lift then that’s great and you’re off to a good start. But if they just think they know it could spell disaster down the line.This is often the case from well meaning (but big mouthed) members who love to offer all kinds of advice tips and may even come across like they know their stuff. But this is not always the case and they may just be full of hot air ( to put it nicely). Start with the basics and build, if you are in your first year of training you do not need to worry about all the different moves, how to hit every angle, how to maximise contractions or what negatives, super sets or zottman curls are.

Start with the basics and build from there.

By basics I mean basics.

Simple, straight forward workouts.

Nothing mind blowing, nothing with crazy movements or fancy names, just back to the bare necessities.  That doesn’t mean it wont shake up your normal routine, in fact it may be what you need to get you back on track to good form and redeveloping your movements.

I have heard it from gym newbies, people returning from injuries or time away from the gym. Even those who are not getting the results they wish and becoming down hearted.

Start at the beginning. If you’ve already started and missed the beginning then it’s time to re-start.

Basic movement patterns are key for a strong foundation.

If you don’t have a good foundation you will not progress as well as you otherwise could and you will be more prone to injuries and poor form or technique.





Loaded carry.

If you cover these in your training programme then you should be on the correct path to a strong foundation.

SQUATS: You can use your body alone or add resistance with kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells or any other form of weight you can get a hold of. Try variations such as back squat, goblet Squat or front squat.


HINGE: The hip hinge is fundemental to most programmes and is involved in the squat and deadlift among other exercises. Many people struggle with this movement without flexing their lower back as you see often in both the squat and deadlift.Kettlebell swings can be a great exercise to practice this movement.


PUSH: Some of the most popular exercises in the gym belong under this category, in fact if you breakdown most guys programme they will most likely be overdoing it with this motion and neglecting the others. What exercises come under push? Well the old faithful bench press is the standard followed closely by shoulder press.


PULL: Most likely this will be next up in the numbers of times performed in a programme, but still usually many repetitions behine push. If you have been guilty of overdoing it on the push exercises it may be time to make up on the pulling side of things (really you want a balance but you may have some catch up to do!) Any of the row categories fall into this category, so you have your seated row, bent over row, lat pulldown and lets not forget the pull-up.

LOADED CARRY: This really should be in more people programmes. We do it when we have to carry dummbells from the rack (well I see many roll them, come on!) One of the most common benefits of weight training is that we become stronger and everyday tasks such as moving things become easier. The most simple? Walking with a load, so why are you not practicing this since it is fundemental in everday life? Try adding some farmers walks or waiters carries to your training and see how they help. They work nearly every muscle in your body, improving strength, stability, and conditioning, all at once.

A basic programme will look something like the following:

BENCH PRESS                                  4 x 10

DEADLIFT                                          5 x 5

FRONT SQUAT                                  4 x 8

LAT PULLDOWN                              4 x 10

FARMERS WALK                              3 x walk for 60 seconds

AB WHEEL ROLL OUT                    2 x 5

From this basic template you can advance, but get the basics done before you do!


Euan MacNeil



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