14 common gym mistakes

Training in the correct way can be confusing at first

You’d think that anyone who takes the time to train would like their time to be effectively spent and to get the best results possible. However, many gym-goers make mistakes that can render workouts ineffective, hinder progress or even cause injury.

Of course, anyone new to training or a gym environment will be unsure of what to do, but it’s not uncommon for people who’ve been training for years to make errors.

Below are some of the more common workout mistakes. If you’re new to training or the gym environment the points below will provide a good foundation for a solid and productive workout. If you’ve been training for years you might learn something new, too!

There’s quite a lot to take in here if you’re new to training but the points below should provide a good foundation for progress. If you’re stuck or have any queries please feel free to contact me. If you’re not sure about any of the terms used in this article, please refer to our glossary of fitness terms.

Too much time between sets

People often start daydreaming and take too much time between sets which means they’re not working their muscles hard enough and they’re stretching what could be an effective 30 minute workout into a less-effective 1 hour workout. You especially see this when groups of people are training together and have 5 minute chats between sets.

Giving yourself a set amount of rest time between sets, 1 minute for example, gives your workout structure, keeps your training time down, increases effectiveness and keeps your training consistent between sessions.

If you’re doing 15+ reps (for muscle endurance) then you should take a rest of 30 seconds – 1 minute between sets. 8-12 reps (muscle hypertrophy) should be about 1-2 minutes and for 1-6 reps (muscle strength) about 2-4 minutes.

If you reduce the amount of rest time between your sets, your workout will be harder and more intense. I personally time 1 minute between sets of 8-10 reps.

Lifting excessively heavy weight

This is one you’re guaranteed to see in any gym – guys throwing massive weights around with terrible form as quick as they can. Whether it’s through ignorance or just to show off, lifting weights too heavy for you is counter-productive and dangerous. Build your weight up slowly and focus on avoiding our next common mistake, which is…

Poor Technique

A classic example of an exercise that’s commonly executed with poor technique is the lat pulldown, with guys leaning back and jerking the weight towards them using the momentum. It’s this kind of movement which means the rights muscles aren’t worked and the risk of injury is increased.

A bicep curl performed correctly - many people lean back and lift the elbows which is counter-productive and can be dangerous

My advice would be to put pride to one side and rather than increasing the weight you’re lifting try slowing down the movement to 2 seconds up/out, 2 seconds down/in. Concentrate on good form so that the muscles that are supposed to be working are powering the move. For example, in a bicep curl ensure it’s the bicep that is lifting the weight and it’s only your forearms moving, rather than leaning back and lifting the elbows up or out for extra help. If you’re doing all this and still able to lift the weight in your desired rep range (for me, 8-10 reps), it’s time to progress and up the weight!

Lifting too little weight

You more commonly see this from women who are scared about bulking up and becoming too big, a common misconception. Check out our article on this… but this point is also aimed at anyone who’s not pushing themselves hard enough. To progress and reach your fitness goals you need to push your body beyond what it can comfortably do.

Working out too long

You often hear guys boasting of a 2 hour weight workout in the gym. This simply means they haven’t been pushing themselves hard enough and have probably been watching the gym TV or chatting to their mates between sets. If you follow the above advice by pushing yourself and keeping time between activity to a minimum, a weight training session should not go beyond an hour. If you work hard and are clever you can squeeze a solid chest or arms workout into 20 minutes, which will come as a relief to people who have busy lifestyles or don’t like spending too much time in the gym!

Overtraining, not taking a break

If you work a muscle group to absolute fatigue then it will take about a week before you can effectively work these muscles again. It’s during this week that your muscles are growing stronger and bigger so to train them hard again during this period can stunt growth and be counter productive. Training too often risks Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) which can cause injury, a weakened immune system, tiredness or general fatigue. This doesn’t mean you can only train once a week, but it means you have to structure your training so that your body is getting adequate rest, for example, by splitting your training into different body parts on different days, or by mixing up your types of training.

If you’ve been working out constantly for months without a break, try having a week off with some stretching and healthy eating. You might find that you’ll feel better, more motivated and you can break through your training plateaus on your return.

Just working chest and biceps and neglecting legs and core

Some newcomers to the gym think that being in good shape means having a big chest and biceps. In reality, this leads to an unbalanced look that pulls your posture out of a healthy and natural alignment. Each muscle has an opposite muscle that has to be worked equally, so as you build your chest muscles you must also build and strengthen your back muscles. Not doing this results in your shoulders being pulled forward and so poor posture and strain on the spine, which isn’t good.

Of course, overly focusing on some areas means neglecting others. I’d say most guys rarely work legs, which can lead to ‘Chicken Leg Syndrome’ – having a developed upper body but tiny legs that are out of proportion.

This learning point can be summarised by saying that workouts should be balanced. Whether you’re training for vanity or health there’s no excuse for not balancing out your workout to cover all areas. If you train purely for vanity (and there’s nothing wrong with that) you will look much stronger, healthier and ultimately more attractive if you’re well proportioned. Most people will think you look ridiculous if you have huge biceps but small legs so if you’re training to look good it pretty much defeats the point. If you’re training for health, then having a strong balanced body will help prevent injuries, back pain and will make you a more functional and all-round healthy person!

Always doing the same workout

Some people don’t like change, and so stick to the same workout that they know and love for years on end. By not mixing up your workout your body will get used to working in a certain way and so it will cease to develop and progress. Your muscles need to be ‘shocked’ by hitting them in different ways, so if you find you’ve hit a plateau and you’re not improving then it’s time to try something new. A few ways to mix things up can be: changing your grip, using free weights or cables instead of machines or by using some more advanced methods such as dropsets. It’s generally advised that you vary your routine at least once every 4-6 weeks, but I would encourage more often than this.

Too many isolation exercises

Some guidance when you start can really help

Compound exercises which work more than one muscle group should make up the bulk of your workout. Some people focus on too many isolation exercises which only work one muscle and joint, for example a bicep curl which just works the bicep. By doing more compound exercises (such as a squat which works quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, calves, abductors and abdominals) you’re training your body’s muscles to work well together which is conducive to good growth and development. Isolation exercises do have their place, but you should do compound exercises at the start of a workout before moving onto isolation work.

Not warming/cooling down and not stretching

Another common mistake that many people are aware of but neglect anyway. By warming up the body first by some pulse raising activity and dynamic stretching you’re less likely to injure yourself and your body will be more prepared for the hard work ahead. Cooling down afterwards is also important to bring your heart rate down slowly which prevents blood pooling.

Stretching your muscles after they’ve been working hard is very important for a variety of reasons. Not many people enjoy it but stretching improves flexibility and posture, increases your range of movement which in turn improves sporting performance and day-to-day functionality, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue, aids recovery, decreases your chance of injury and increases definition in your muscles. If one or all of these things are important to you then you need to introduce stretching into your program.

Holding your breath

You should breath out in the positive phase of an exercise (pushing/pulling the weight) and breath in during the negative phase (lowering the weight). There is a tendency amongst newcomers to hold their breath which increases blood pressure and can cause fainting.

Trying to spot reduce certain areas

You cannot work out to reduce weight in a certain area, such as abs or hips. Put another way, doing loads of crunches and ab work alone will not give you a six-pack; a good diet and regular aerobic exercise need to be incorporated into your routine for best results and an overall toned and defined physique.

Not drinking enough water

If you feel thirsty then you’re already dehydrated. Keep well hydrated during your training and you’ll be able to work at optimal levels. Stay well hydrated by drinking 2-3 cups of water in the two hours preceding exercise and roughly a cup of water every 15 minutes during exercise. Hydrate yourself with water or low-sugar sports drinks (less than 8g carbohydrates per 100ml).

Leaving weights out, gym etiquette

This is a personal pet hate of mine and you see this from people who’ve been training for decades. When you’ve finished using your weights or equipment, put it back in its rack. When you’ve finished with a barbell, take the weights off the bar as the next person using it may be unable to do so. Leaving weights lying around is dangerous as other people can trip over them, and it shows no respect for other people or for the gym. Don’t be that person.

Fun, efficient and effective Bangkok workouts – summary

A 20 minute workout done right can be far more effective than a 60 minute workout done poorly. There may seem like a lot to take in here but by following these principles your workouts will be more efficient and effective, and after a while you will habitually and automatically apply them to your training.

I hope this article has helped you and please feel free to contact me if you have any queries about training.

Have fun!

Bangkok Sports Directory @ Bangkok Fitness Blog

I’ve added a directory of everything I could find that’s sports related in Bangkok. The kind of places you’ll find are:

  • Parks
  • Gyms and Health Clubs
  • Yoga and Pilates Studios
  • Health Stores / Supplements / Equipment
  • Sports Shops
  • Things to do (activities, adventure sports etc)

You can access this directory by clicking on the ‘Bangkok Sports Directory’ tag at the top, or by clicking here.

I will add any cool new places I stumble across, or please let me know if you there’s anywhere not included that people should know about.

List of gyms and health clubs in Bangkok and Thailand

Revised April 2017.

The fitness industry in Thailand was in its infancy when I first arrived here 10 years ago, but it has matured into a strong scene now with some first-class fitness training available to expats and locals.

Here’s my guide to the main gym and health club options in Bangkok.

BASE

The vision at BASE was to bring a fitness studio to Bangkok that would rival anything found in top international fitness cities such as New York and London.

BASE combines HIIT and strength training for the best possible results in burning fat and building muscle.

BASE uses a science and data-driven approach to your results that leaves nothing to chance. They have an industry-leading InBody machine which accurately details your body fat and muscle mass percentage. BASE also offer a monthly fitness assessment called BASELINE for all of their group class and personal training clients that shows how your cardio and strength is improving.

base neon banner BF

With this information the coaches at BASE can accurately see how your training and nutrition is affecting your body and we can make adjustments along the way to ensure your making steps towards your goals.

For more information, check out their pages on What is BASE?, their team of fitness coaches or information on how to find the centrally located studio next to Thonglor BTS

For more information, contact BASE.

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BASE uses treadmills, rowing machines and bikes and expert coaching on HIIT – the result? Accelerated and highly efficient fat burning

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The tools of choice at BASE are TRX, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, bodyweight exercise to help build muscle, improve shape and gain strength

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BASE is partnered with adidas and offers exclusive adidas x BASE apparel. Complimentary HARNN product are available in their bathrooms

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Luxe-feel bathrooms and free shower and workout towels complete the training experience

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BASE Coaches are equipped to help all levels improve. The goal at BASE is to help beginners develop a love for exercise and they’ve helped many newcomers see great results

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The team of qualified coaches are friendly, passionate and highly driven to seeing all of our clients get stronger and fitter

WE Fitness Society

This gym chain has replaced California Wow as the loud, brash player on Bangkok’s fitness market. Their marketing strategy has had them driving trucks of young models around the city dancing to pumping house music, screaming for attention. I’m all for a bit of eye candy to liven up Bangkok’s traffic so they get a thumbs up from me on this point alone.

Other than driving models round the city, they also have a network of 3 fitness centres: Esplanade Ratchada, Ekkamai near the BTS and Ratchayotin up near Chatuchak. The machines and free weights are well equipped so if you’re looking to do your own training at a budget price, check them out. They also have classes and personal training available for Powerplate, kickboxing, antigravity yoga, Pilates and Synergy 360. Membership includes access to all branches.

WE Fitness Society Website

True Fitness

True Fitness boast 2 clubs in prime locations in Bangkok – one at Asoke in Exchange Tower, the other at CentralWorld. True Fitness looks and feels like another chain gym – machines, treadmills, free weights, spin classes etc. If this is what you’re looking for then True is a good option. They’ve made an attempt at adding some more progressive pieces of kit such as TRX and Vipr but they are usually left unused.

True Fitness Website

Virgin Active

virgin active bangkokThis fitness chain powerhouse from the UK touched down in Asia with a Singapore branch recently and have just opened their first club in Bangkok at Empire Tower, Sathorn. They have quite a health club vibe with salt rooms, sleep pods (I could do with one of these) and fancy showers. They also have all the latest, expensive machines that even count your reps. This kind of thing isn’t for me but if you want a smart, plush gym where you can chill as well as train then this is definitely worth visiting. The coolest thing I haven’t mentioned? They have a climbing wall!

Virgin Active Thailand Website

Fitness First

The world’s biggest fitness chain have a network of 25 fitness clubs throughout Bangkok. Some of their branches are older gyms with all your standard, traditional gear, whereas the newer gyms such as the one at Siam Paragon and Terminal 21 have a lot of newer equipment and kit such as TRX, kettlebells etc.

Fitness First offer a broad range of high-quality gym equipment imported from abroad. You can also use your international membership (Singapore and UK, to name a few other countries where they have a presence) to access their gyms. They offer a 3-day free pass at reception on enquiry or through their website.

Fitness First Thailand Website

Clark Hatch

On my last update they had 9 branches, now they only have one branch near Silom. You can get a free pass on their website so check them out if you’re round that way.

Clark Hatch Thailand Website

Crossfit

There are now 4 Crossfit boxes in Bangkok: Crossfit Arena, Crossfit BK, Crossfit 10500 and Training Ground.

I would class Training Ground as the premier Crossfit in Bangkok – they’ve a big warehouse walking distance from Phra Khanong BTS.

crossfit bangkok

Olympic lifts make up a big part of Crossfit

A few years ago I completed my Level 1 Crossfit Certification in Seoul, at BASE we implement some Crossfit techniques into our coaching, such as gymnastics, calisthenics, barbell lifting and high intensity interval training with recorded, measured progress. I have mixed feelings about Crossfit overall but I think there are some great things about it. I incorporate the parts of Crossfit that I feel have the most value and would most benefit my suitable clients. Contact BASE for more information on this.

Royal Bangkok Sports Club  (RBSC)

Royal Bangkok Sports Club

Royal Bangkok Sports Club

Spacious, well located and with a retro vibe, RBSC offers a huge array of sports. They have a 50 metre Olympic pool, 16 tennis courts, driving range with golf course and an indoor sports hall with basketball court, to name a few.

RBSC Website

Twist Conditioning

twist bangkokPeter Twist not only has a cool name, but he’s an innovator of the functional fitness scene and founder of Twist Conditioning. This Canada based brand opened their Bangkok branch in October ’13 and offers personal and group training. Their aim is to build ‘Smart Muscle’ using unstable surfaces, BOSU, balance boards, Viprs as well as some more traditional strength equipment such as dumbbells and barbells. They were originally located in Silom but have relocated to Activ Parc, next to Chidlom BTS.

Twist Conditioning Bangkok Facebook

Fitness Innovations Thailand (FIT Thai)

Not a gym, but worth a mention as FIT offer personal training qualifications for fitness professionals in Bangkok. They offer ACE certified courses to be a fitness trainer as well as numerous other courses covering all aspects of fitness.

They also offer group class training at their premises neat Ploenchit BTS. Check their website or contact them for more info on this.

FIT Thai Website

New Moves

Described as an ‘exercise exploration centre’, New Moves is centrally located right next to Chidlom BTS and is more of an open training space for personal and group training, rather than a traditional gym. Their approach aims to break free from restrictive and dated methods of exercise with more experimental and progressive training methods that yield enhanced movement and better results.

Hotel and Apartment Gyms

There are countless, perhaps 100-200+, health clubs and gyms in Bangkok’s hotels, apartments and condos. They are usually quite expensive and not well equipped in terms of fitness equipment, but they are usually quieter and often come with luxury extras such as swimming pools, jacuzzis, saunas etc. Every one of the many 5-star hotels in Bangkok would offer a health club/gym of some kind and will take memberships from outside clients.

Gym at the Radisson Hotel, Bangkok

Other gyms and health clubs worth a mention

The Racquet Club Sukhumvit soi 49

Balance Health Club Sukhumvit soi 30/1

All the gyms and fitness centres detailed here can be viewed on our Bangkok Fitness Map