3 Results Killers in the Gym

I was going to hit up the boxing gym on Tuesday night but the all-day grey sky and rain sapped my motivation to make the 30 minute streetcar ride over.

Rain, rain. Go away…

So I decided to stop in to Toronto Kickboxing and Muay Thai (TKMT) for a drop-in class instead, which is a quick 7 minute walk from my place.

I’ve never been there before but it turned out to be a good call. I had a great workout, met a dude who’s on my email list (what’s up Mark), ran into a friend from Uni (hey Lisa) and gave my body something different, as I haven’t kicked or thrown a knee in a long-time since I’ve been focusing on being a pugilist.

In fact, I’ve shied away from Kickboxing/MT because my hips *were* in really rough shape and kicking irritated the hell out of them.

But I got some deep myofascial work done that ended in February this year (about $1600 worth… ouch) and now they’re feeling a heck of a lot better and the kicking didn’t irritate them like it used to.

So it looks like I may have to start training Kickboxing/MT more now. Yeeee-haw!

Over this past week, I’ve noticed some terrible things happening in the gym…

One of my biggest pet peeves is trainers that do nothing more than count reps.

Is it really worth $60 per hour to have someone count from 1 to 10 out loud?


I actually witnessed a trainer count a set of horrible-form pushups from one to TWENTY, without uttering a single coaching cue.

One. Two. Three. Four...

Shoulders were going up into the ears, hips and stomach were sagging, the client was holding their breath – all basic form cues but none of that was passed on to this paying client.


So sad.

Anyway, there are 3 things that I’m about to share with your right now that I’ve seen people do to KILL their workouts.

Do these 3 things and you’re guaranteed to be in the same shape, year after year.

Here they are, avoid them like the plague, then leave some of your tips/suggestions that sap the effectiveness of workouts in the Comments section.

Results KILLER #1 – Answering/Talking/Texting On Your Cell Phone

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule:

  • Your wife is pregnant and you’re waiting for ‘the call’
  • There was a birth control failure and you’re waiting for the other ‘call’

Other than these 2 reasons, I can’t think of anything else that would warrant answering, talking or texting on your cell phone.

Sometimes I picture ripping the phone out of their hand and beating them with it.

It’s for their own good. I would get no pleasure out of it.

Leave the damn thing in your locker, or if you use it to listen to music, put it on Airplane mode and your workout will be 100x more effective.

It’s not only the time interruption, but the mental interruption.

Studies have shown that focusing and visualizing during training improves strength by helping you recruit more muscle fibres.

It’s just common sense too – you’re always better at something when you’re focused. Training, work, sex…

But if your mind is somewhere else, you lose this power.

Here’s another common thing I see that absolutely murders results…

Results KILLER #2 – Talking During a Set

If you’re talking in the middle of a set, that means:

  • You’re training at an intensity level that’s way too low
  • The exercise you’re doing offers you absolutely no challenge, either physically or mentally

I overheard a girl tell her trainer all about her date the night before.

They should both be spanked.

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16 and I still don’t have the capacity to perform exercises properly while having a conversation.

Sometimes, people (newbies) will ask me a question or say something to me in the middle of a set:

“How long are you going to be?” Billy asks while I’m squatting 275 lbs.

After my set is finished I reply politely, “Please don’t talk to anyone when they’re in the middle of a set.”

No need to be rude. Politely educate and the world will be a much better place. I recommend you do the same.

The first two are just general advice to all gym-goers… But the last one is a mistake I see MMA guys making that may be counter-intuitive but is very, very important.

Results KILLER #3 – Not Taking Enough Rest Between Sets

Circuit training is one of the most popular methods for fighters these days.

It’s a super effective method when used properly and at the right time in a fight prep plan.

But I’ve been seeing a lot of people applying this concept to every type of training including 2 places where it absolutely does not belong: max strength and power.

If you’re not taking sufficient rest between max strength or true power sets, your nervous system will not be recovered enough to get the most out of the set.

Your muscles will likely feel fine, but your nervous system takes longer to recover.

By starting the next set before your nervous system is recovered, your output will be lower and you won’t get the adaptation you need to improve your max strength or power.

By definition, working in a fatigued state trains endurance.

So if you’re training max strength or power, make sure you’re taking enough rest between sets and you’re focusing more on quality, not quantity.

You can do a bit of light joint mobility stuff in between, but I prefer to just chill out and wait for my next set.


There you have it, 3 Results KILLERS to avoid…

Now, it’s your turn – what do you see happening in the gym that’s keeping people stuck?

Share your advice below and hit ‘Like’ to increase your Karma points or ‘Send’ it to anyone you think needs some help:


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busterDaniel Galluccironald parraColleenKeith Recent comment authors
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hay dude agree with you about your three things ,but what grips me is people who just rush in and out no warm up no cool down that to me is a injury in the waiting

Daniel Gallucci

hey bud, great post, its drives me nuts when I see people talking on the phone in the gym. And the thought that someone should talk while performing an exercise is just beyond me, its crazy! Funny that you mention my favourite oxymoron right now : MMA and REST!
cheers bud

ronald parra
ronald parra

hey eric, my name is ron i train in mma and have bin doing judo for about 3 years i way about 210 and would like to have my first fight at 185, a friend recommened no xplode for a better workout. i have bin taking it for about a month i think it works great but i am maintaining my wait even due i am working out twice as hard he also says i should take cellmass for a post workout. i don t want to gain wait just lose fat gain muscle and get rid of my man boobs. ne way i was wondering what u would recommend


Eric, I enjoyed the “easy” but often overlooked gym etiquette suggestions, my peev is when the gym is busy someone monopolizes a piece of equipment ignoring my hints that i’d like to work-in a set while they rest. Very Annoying..



Hey eric,

You mentioned that you had some therapy done on your hips…can I ask where and with whom? My hips are pretty messed up too and are really limiting my kicks. I live in T.O. too…thx

Scrappy D
Scrappy D

Another thing that really gets me is if I don’t get enough sleep the night before. If I am well rested I can go to the gym right after work but if I have not had my 8 hours I am exhausted by the end of my shift and just want to go take a nap. So not only are you depriving your body of recovery time, you also drain your motivation because you are too tired. Many people wonder why they are tired all the time yet average around 6 hours of sleep a night. Also making the most of your sleep by having a comfortable bed, as little noise as possible, and throwing a dark blanket over your blinds to block out all light all help you get deeper and more effective sleep.

Tim martin
Tim martin

Aaaaaah! People on there phones drives me crazy. Like you said, I just want to rip the phone out of there hands and beet them with it. Every time I train my brother he can’t help but pick up his damn phone in between sets. I can yell at him a million times. He is finally starting to get it. Thank god, lol. And as for talking during sets, wow. My girlfriend drives me crazy. I try to visualize and bring to mind a scence of ferociousness to my workout. Because, from experience, it helps use 120% of my potential. When I am working out with her, she laughs at some of the things I do. For example, I was doing foot work yesterday and she was laughing because she said I looked like a dog chasing my tail. I was circling. She tries to get me to pay attention… Read more »

john l

Eric great funny stuff. What about at the gym those trainers who are fat training someone else?? Does not work. I no longer work out at the gym but prefer the garage and the mountains.
Proper form is key! Wrong form hurt yourself waste your workout.


Recommend you check out this book, the author has provided some hip strengthening exercises,
Im using his books for my kicks, and it’s a great detailed book

Link: http://www.elasticsteel.net/Strength_Flexibility_Training_Book_p/estm.htm


Thanks Nindz!

Ken Gack
Ken Gack

Agree whole-heartedly with your points. If my training partners are talking during a set (even to gasp ‘it’s too heavy, I can’t do it…), they’re just not working hard enough. And, I have seen so many lousy trainers, many really give the occupation a bad name.
My pet peeve, jumping from fad workout to fad workout. I think this is just as bad as not pushing yourself year after year. Too many people, at the first sign of a slowing in progress trash their program and start something completely different. In nearly all cases I can just about assure you the program is not the issue.

Ken Gack ‘The Ripper’


Awesome tip from ‘The Ripper’!

How’d you get that name?


Correct, good thing I don’t do any of these. Currently I am increasing my pull-up/chin-up strenght (working towards OAC), so I might rest up to 7 or 8minutes just for 1rep. But boy, when you put the weights down, and you know you’ve been above the bar, haha, the relief and self-satisfaction.

Edd Abasol
Edd Abasol

Another results killer is going to the gym (or any training session) without a written plan. You should know what you want to accomplish, what specifically you are going to do and how long it will take.


HUGE tip!


hey eric, i have three things that i think gym goers need to be more aware of.
1/ if you are sick stay home , coughing and sneezing and blowing your nose all over the gym is not cool
2/ don’t show up to the gym with stank clothes that u forgot to take out of your gym bag, that odour will definately throw off other peoples workouts.
3/ if you are a heave sweater bring a towel, equipment soaked in another persons sweat is also not cool.


Agree with all 3!

The worst is grappling with someone who stinks. I refuse.


Good post Eric, I don’t normally comment on anything on the internet lol but this type of stuff is also my pet peeve as well so I felt compelled to chime in.

I’ve fallen victim to this myself, but I think it’s terrible when people jump straight into the bulk of their sets with no warm up or stretching. Great way to get injured, and even if you don’t hurt yourself I feel like the first set or two is wasted because your muscles weren’t properly ready to start firing on all cylinders.


Heh yeah no doubt… Warming up should be seen as part of the workout, not something optional.

Don Heatrick

Another results killer in my opinion (specifically for fighters) is the desire to train flat out using the lactic energy system EVERY day at every training session. Without alternating energy systems used on consecutive days, inadequate recovery will kill progress and can quickly lead to overtraining. The fighter mindset is a difficult thing to override – we all tend to want to feel “beasted” by the time we leave the gym 😉


Yeah, no doubt Don, the old mentality “If it burns and makes me want to puke, it MUST be good!”

It’s a tough one to change but I’m trying my best… 🙂


Sadly, my job requires that I keep my phone at my side at all times (small business owner in a 24 hour service-based environment) but I can vouch for #1. When my phone rings, it absolutely kills me. It takes my mind off of the workout, adds stress and I lose focus. Even the fear that the phone is going to ring at any given time results in less of a focused workout. I get nervous, angry and it just throws the whole workout off. What’s even more frustrating is that I have told everyone I know on a personal, not work, level not to call during the hours of 5-8, but yet they still call. Grrrrrrr….


Hi, just had a tip for you. If you can get google voice on your phone you can block certain callers during certain hours. Then you could totally immerse yourself into your work out. Its free so there isn’t much to lose.



I don’t know your business, but really challenge your mindset of needing to be on call 24/7…

Maybe you can delegate? Maybe hire an answering service? Maybe you need to train your clients that you’re not available 24/7?

Please don’t get defensive or take it personally, just trying to help, as I know what it’s like as a small-biz owner.


You’re absolutely right man! I’m always seeing people talking to each other, on the phone, or just wasting time. I think if you’re in the gym for 2 hours at a time then you are there for way to long (i might be there for an hour and 30 min if my routine consists of weight training and then a 15 min HIIT workout right after; i like to do aerobic exercise round my neighborhood). When I step foot in the gym my mind set switches to Get Sh*t Done! I don’t talk to anyone ( and hate when people try to talk to me while I am working out, especially during a set, ugh!!!). I focus on the exercises I am performing (not so much on the reps but on the concentric and eccentric of the exercise itself) , not giving thought to anyone else, and making some weird… Read more »

jeff mann

I always see a lot of bad form. People trying to do too much or moves they are not ready 4. I feel like it would be better to get the technique down first, then start making gains.


How many rest time do you recommend in advice number 3?


Depends on the individual…

If you’re squatting 200 lbs for a 3RM, then you only need 2-3 minutes…

But if you’re squatting 400 lbs for a 3RM, you likely need 4-5 minutes, maybe even up to 6 or 7…

General rules:

– exercises that use lots of muscles increase rest
– the stronger you are, the more rest you need


Great points, all of them. If I’m working in some heavy weight/low reps into my workouts, I usually take a longish break between sets. EG. handling heavy squats or deadlifts, I’ll do 4×5 reps and take 3-4 minutes between sets. Its a long time to stand there, so sometimes I read a little while waiting for the rest to be over. I stop reading about 45 seconds before the rest period is over to start visualizing and focussing on the lift. Haven’t noticed any problems increasing my poundages… Any thoughts on the best use of time for those longer rest periods on the strength days?


For the first minute, chill out, then for 2-3 minutes, you can do some stretching of muscle groups you’re NOT working, or some joint mobility stuff, postural stuff, foam rolling, etc…

Then for the minute before you start, focus on killing the next set.


i see it day in and day out. a person will come to the gym and do the same, easy exercises every day for as long as i can remember. Talking while doing their sets (just as you mentioned), never changing reps, weight, intensity, etc. It frustrates me to see someone come into the gym on a daily basis for such a long time and not get any results. I think the gym is more of a social zone for them. “if your not ganna BE here, then dont BE here”


Great advice Eric ,
people need to be able to differentiate between strength and power work , and work that will increase your endurance . Power work requires adequate recovery between sets , and a limit as to the volume of work you do
Be well