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Weight Room Advice and What To Do With It

I was training former Tiger (and good Canadian kid) Stefan Meyer a couple weeks ago at the college weight room when in the middle of his set a fairly intense young man interjected to tell him he was doing it wrong!  The same well meaning lad also offered squat form advice to a student in my strength training activity class.  The info he provided in both cases was not 100% wrong but for the given situation it was extraneous, off base and far from welcomed.  I politely convinced the young lad to refrain from stealing my clients.  But the situation brought to light something that happens all the time in gyms across the globe.


Weight Room Experts are everywhere, and I would be lying if I said I did not value many of the lessons I learned through various versions of same.  I would suggest that we have all had many mentors in the ways of training the body.  Passing on your hard earned knowledge is a good thing and I encourage it.


That said, go to any weight room anywhere, to see at best, a short posture crazed health caring professional, and at worst the blind leading the blind.


The cat with the biggest pipes or the gal with the narrowest waist may be a genius when it comes to the complex workings of the human body, on the other hand they may not have a clue.


I would like to offer a checklist of sorts so that we can ensure more people enjoy the full benefits of physical training rather than the opposite.


Top 5 things that you should know before giving or taking advice in the weight room:


1. Goals what goals?  You and the person helping need to know what are you hoping to achieve: fat loss, increasing muscle size, increasing strength, run farther, faster, avoid/prevent/ rehabilitate an injury? Programs and exercises will vary significantly toward these ends.


2. Match the training to your present physical state?  I see this all the time where a guy that has a good base of training helps his newby buddy by showing him all the latest moves that he does, a day later the other poor guy is looking for the license of the truck that hit him.  Build a base first then implement small challenges rather than all at once.


3. There are certain exercises that go against the natural functioning of a healthy body.  Even though they have been around for years, even though you saw it in a magazine, some moves simply set you up for injury down the line.  Lock knee dead lifts, upright rows, behind the neck military press, indeed any move that sacrifices posture.


4. Posture is the key to building a strong, supple, injury resistant body! Not just the way the spine is held but the positions from which all the joints are normally loaded.  Ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and forearm all have general “best fit positions” or postures from which they function best.  An informed advice giver would not knowingly sacrifice these postures under load.


5. At some point the conversation always steers toward nutrition, and often the elusive magic bullet.  Before you spend a ton on all the latest supplements realize that many strong and healthy bodies have been built using the moderation diet.


If you enjoy helping others in the weight room welcome to the club.  But before you force your opinion on others I strongly encourage you to educate yourself with reputable resources: read books, go online, there is an array varied info that you can apply to your own and your victims/ training.  Be aware that opinions and information will vary significantly depending on the perspective of the author.



Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologist is a member of the Alberta Sport Development Center’s Performance Enhancement Team and operates Peak Performance Fitness Services. He can be reached via email at asdc@mhc.ab.ca or at peakperform@hotmail.com