Lesson 2-Finding a Gym

Look Around! Is Your Gym Maximizing Your Bodybuilding Gains by Scott Jameson

I bet you are thinking that my gym has all the equipment I need. Well, it is true that having the right equipment is an essential of bodybuilding. BUT there are many other factors that play a LARGER role.

First of all let me say this article is going to focus on training at a gym. If you have chosen to train at your home, basement or garage or buddy’s private gym, you really need to really need to read this article, perhaps even more than the reader that goes to a gym.

Over my bodybuilding career, I have trained just about every place imaginable but my workouts pound for pound and push for push were best achieved in a public gym.

I can’t begin to tell you how many seriously minded people I know have bought the home gym equipment and never stuck with it. Or if they do they often get lackluster workouts that at BEST produce mediocre gains. The home (usually the basement) is so full of distractions that training is gets bombarded into oblivion. The phone rings, the doorbell chimes, the wife interrupts, the TV distracts or that home projects begs attention are all deterrents to a superior workout.

I have a very close friend that moved his training from the local gym to his basement about 10 years ago. This guy had a spectacular physique and was on the road to greater contest wins. He had the money and created a really sweet personal gym in his basement. He had all the goodies. The gym was loaded with the equipment, mirrors and posters. But it might as well be museum because a year after he created the gym, he chucked working out all together!

I know you say you may be different. If you are, you are in the minority. I’d say 99% can’t do it on their own.

I can't say it stong enough, find a good gym because the environment is essential to mind blowing workouts that produce extraordinary gains.

Okay enough preaching. What makes a truly great gym?

Basic Free Weight: Yes, the starting point is about right equipment. A good gym should have plenty of free weights, dumbbells and benches. It should also have plenty of machines that will provide isolated muscle training. Spend some time evaluating what equipment the gym has for each muscle group. For example, if you are checking the gym for the chest workout, then does the gym have flat benches, incline benches, decline benches and heavy enough dumbbells? You should do this for each muscle group.

Machine Essentials: Machines isolate muscle groups better than free weights and are central if you going to pump the muscle to the max. Nautilus, Icarian and Hammer Strength are recognizable brands that have traditionally produced high quality machines for bodybuilding. The gym should also have a decent selection of cardio equipment. Again determine what is available for each muscle group.

By the way, if you don’t know which muscle group a piece of equipment works, most machine will generally have a label describing what it does. Some equipment is more generic and if you don't know it use, you need to read an article in Bodybuilding Basics- Which Muscles-Which Equipment.

Okay so what’s beyond the weights and equipment?

While you cannot have a gym without the weights and equipment, the following gym qualities will detonate your routine to be nuclear!

Clientele: What kind of persons are training at the gym. Go to the gym during the time that you will normally attend and CHECK THIS OUT. If you see primarily geriatrics (old farts) recovering from a heart attack or knee replacement, it is not likely they are going to stimulate you to intense workouts.

Look for gym jocks! Those are the guys that are obviously serious about their training. Observe the:
The intensity of their workouts. How much sweating is going on?
Their words of motivation during training. Do you hear anyone saying, “get it up” push it out, you can do it or one more rep”
Their present level of muscular development. It helps to have some that are significantly superior bodybuiders that motivate you to excel, some that are similar to your physique to create competition and yes some less than your physique, so you can help them to improve. If some newbie asks your for advice, figure you just received a compliment to your physique. Now don't you feel like working harder!

Other qualities to look:
Does the staff look like they practice what they sell? At least a portion of the staff should be into bodybuilding, fitness or other sports that the gym can prepare them for. They should be able to teach you about the equipment and also offer a spot to you during an exercise.
Mirrors and equipment placement: This may sound silly but mirrors are important to your training. This is not about narcissism. It is about feedback. When you exercise it is important to see if you are maintaining good form. Properly placed equipment will allow this to happen. Mirrors can help you lock out those triceps, keep you back straight and prevent excessive cheating during the movements. Also seeing the muscle work will provide positive feedback push out that last rep.
Juice Bar: Can you get a protein shake or energizing drink before a workout? Also this is location for chit chat and small talk….not the gym floor.

If you are working at home, find a gym. If you are working out at a gym, determine if its the best. There was a time in my training that the best gym was 30 miles round trip, while the lesser gym was a mere 4 miles away. You can guess what I did….and it made a difference.

Why do you think the best bodybuilding in the world all train in a handful of gyms in California? Location, location, location; it makes the difference in their training.