Thou shalt not forsake your upper back.
Don’t neglect to train your ‘pulling’ muscles of your upper back. Particularly the ones responsible for holding your shoulder girdle in place and retracting and depressing your scapula. This means plenty of face-pulls and rows. A 2-1 ratio of upper body pulling to pressing is ideal for keeping your shoulders happy. That means for every set of bench press, do 2 sets of rows. It’s a commandment.
Thou shalt show your glutes and hamstrings much volume.
Much like the upper back, many people neglect to train their hamstrings and glutes sufficiently. This is a problem as they’re key players in keeping your hips well aligned and healthy and therefore your lumbar spine happy. We also have a habit of sitting on our hamstrings and glutes a lot which turns them off- making them slow and sluggish. You must therefore work hard to activate these sleeping giants and make them as strong and sexy as possible!
Thou shalt not train arms more than abs.
Imagine how much stronger the world might be if all those sets of curls were instead planks? Your core is literally engaged in everything you do, so don’t neglect to train it in the way it deserves! If you’re fond of arm training, then earn those sets of curls by doing core-work first. At the very least, you’re weekly core training should be as many sets as you’re doing for arms. You’ll be much stronger, with a much happier spine if you follow this commandment. Arms might fill out a t-shirt and make you look strong, but strong abs will actually make you strong.
Thou shalt carry.
Whatever is heavy, carry that- dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, medicine balls, whatever you can lay your hands on then carry that. Carry them at your side, overhead, held in front of you, hugging them, in the front rack. Just make sure you’re doing carries every week.
Thou shalt prioritise movement before muscles.
I’m not saying don’t aim to train muscles for specific hypertrophy and strength- but you should be making sure that you’re getting good at the fundamental human movements and building sufficient intermuscular co-ordination in them. This means you should be trying to get better at squats, hinges, rows, pulls and carries, all the time.
Thou shalt not deface the gyn.
Put your stuff away. Don’t leave a mess. Simple. But it seems a lot of people find this one the hardest commandment to keep.
Thou shalt treat others with deference and respect.
This doesn’t just apply to the gym, but to life. But it seems like it gets worse in weight rooms sometimes. You don’t need to walk around the gym like someone just woke you up with an air horn, had left a nasty surprise in your cornflakes and insulted your mother- there’s not need to be that angry and aggressive and there’s no need to abandon your manners in favour of grunting at people.
We get it, you’re serious about training. We are too. But that doesn’t mean you need to leave manners and common courtesy at the door. Everyone is at the gym for the same purpose, so be friendly to each other! Respect that their training is just as important as yours. Offer to let people work in on equipment. Just be nice!
Thou shalt respect and care for your body.
If you’ve got pain or injury, you won’t ignore it. Your body deserves to be treated with more care than that- you only have one after-all. You should be doing work daily to ensure your joints, muscles and tendons stay as healthy as possible. Mobility work is the most crucial aspect of training that’s most often ignored.
Thou shalt spread the good word.
If you see someone in need of help, help them. We all started somewhere and we all needed help. Don’t laugh, don’t film them making mistakes to put on social media. If you can, then find a way to offer them some advice. We need more people to be exercising and improving their health for the sake of the western world! So letting people hurt themselves for a cheap laugh really isn’t a smart move. You got help to get to where you were, so pay it forward and help someone else if you’re in a position to.
Thou shalt remain consistent.
Patience is the truest virtue you can possess if you’re serious about lifting weights for the long run. Real results will take time to achieve after you’ve passed the newbie stage of lifting. Frustrations will be common and the speed that improvements come at will slow right down. It’s then that consistency becomes the most important aspect of training. You need to just stick at it!
Dan Mennell is a Personal Trainer and Strength Coach working in Staffordshire and Shropshire.
He writes regular fitness articles and creates other informative free-content.
If you're interested in learning more, subscribe to the mailing list below-