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Handy tips for the self-trainer

In today’s society not everybody has the benefit of a personal trainer. The majority of gym users tend to train themselves through trial and error often resulting in injury or poor technique. Therefore, I have listed a few key exercises with coaching points to help you reduce the risk of injury and improve muscle gain. Most exercises when performed correctly will give increases in strength and physical appearance. Be as strict with your exercises as you are with your attendance.


Bench Press (chest, shoulders, triceps)

  • Lie on bench back and head supported
  • Grip the bar with hands outside shoulder width
  • Keep wrists straight
  • Lower back against the bench
  • Lower bar an inch short of the chest
  • Extend the arms, do not lock and breath out

Dumbbell Shoulder press (shoulders & triceps)

  • Feet roughly shoulder width apart
  • Knees soft, neutral spine
  • Position dumbbells to each side of shoulders with elbows below the wrists
  • Press dumbbells until arms are extended overhead, do not lock out
  • Breath out on the press


Back Squat (quads, hamstrings & glutes)

  • Bar placed across fleshy part of upper back
  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Brace abdominals and back muscles
  • Start movement by flexing from the knees and hips
  • Lower to a comfortable position under control
  • From the bottom push through the heels keeping chest up with a neutral spine back to the start
  • Breath out through the upward phase of the movement
  • Keep knees in line with toes and heels throughout the exercise

Deadlift (quads, hamstrings, glutes, neck & upper back)

  • With barbell resting on the floor, toes first, place feet under the bar so shins are lightly touching
  • Flex the knees, bend the hips and grasp the bar with an alternate grip, slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Head up, chest out and neutral spine
  • Begin to lift the bar from the floor by raising the hips and shoulders
  • As the bar begins to pass the knees drive the hips forward to stand up straight
  • Keep shoulders pinched back throughout
  • To return to the start position use a forward tilt from the hip and drive the hips backward
  • As the bar drops passed the knees allow them to flex until reaching the start position
  • Ensure a neutral spine is maintained throughout (most common mistake)

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