Unrecognized Benefits of a Commercial Gym

TAGS: Benefits of a Commercial Gym, powerlifting training, Marshall Johnson, powerlifting gear, assistance work, commercial gym, cardio, recovery, powerlifting

Despite much common thought among die-hard powerlifters, there are many benefits to training at a commercial gym. It is engrained in our heads from the beginning that the commercial gym is the devil. According to belief, at a commercial gym, you're surrounded by people who don't share the same training beliefs as you and aren't as educated when it comes to being a powerlifter. However, when you stop and think about it, the commercial gym presents many opportunities that your powerlifting gym doesn’t.

My purpose isn't to get everyone to abandon powerlifting gyms and head to 24-Hour Fitness. That gym will never provide you with the necessities of your powerlifting gym, but it will present you with some opportunities not available at your home gym.

I'm extremely fortunate to have a training facility. Edgar’s House of Pain has the best powerlifting equipment that money can buy and plenty of it. Any need you could possibly have with regards to powerlifting is available in spades. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have accomplished what I have in this sport without Edgar's House of Pain and the owner Ed May. However, as powerlifters, we tend to neglect things like cardio, assistance lifts, motivation, showmanship, confidence and recovery. It's extremely easy to fall into the pattern of hitting your main lift and maybe a secondary movement and rarely hitting abs or cardio. This isn't necessarily because your powerlifting gym doesn't provide these things. It's just that the convenience of these other elements isn’t exactly there. A commercial gym helps present extra elements with a little more convenience. As we all know, we are only human beings, and if something is easier to do, we do it. If something is more inconvenient, we're less likely to do it.

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Cardio

From my own personal experiences, I know that the best way to get into prime cardiovascular shape is by using the good old-fashioned sled or Prowler®. But this is hard and it requires a pretty high level of motivation to even consider doing it. You have to drag the apparatus outside, take the weights outside, complete your cardio and then lug the shit back in. It's a pain in the ass for the majority of powerlifters. This makes it extremely easy for 75 percent of lifters to skip this part of training, which just happens to lend tremendous carryover to your performance. Of course, there is the saying that “to accomplish what others can’t, you must do what others won't.” I believe in this 100 percent, but sometimes most people just need it to be a little easier at first.

I get all gung ho about something like cardio and the Prowler® and dive in head first. However, I usually burn out quicker with tasks like this when I dive in head first. If only I took baby steps, I would be more likely to stick it out.

Doing cardio at the commercial gym provides you with convenience. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside. There are 13 different types of cardio equipment to choose from. There are televisions to watch and, of course, people to watch. You just made the task of cardio ten times easier, thus making it more likely that you'll do it and on a more consistent basis. I'm not advocating laziness, but if you provide yourself with a little more convenience when you first start to add cardio to your training schedule, you'll be more likely to stick with it and more likely to advance in the difficulty of your cardio in the future. So go to that commercial gym and hop on the elliptical or stair trainer and get started.

Recovery and Assistance

Most of your powerlifting gyms only have the bare necessities—a basic squat rack, a deadlift platform, a bench and maybe, if you're lucky, a lat pull-down or glute ham raise machine. Yes, some powerlifting gyms are very well equipped, but most aren’t. This makes it extremely easy for most of us to fall into the pattern of just hitting that main lift and possibly a secondary lift and then calling it a day. Your creativity and motivation need to be operating at a higher level to find ways around this at your own gym. This usually leaves you training just three times a week with a bench day, a squat day and a deadlift day. This doesn't leave much room for recovery and assistance priorities. Unfortunately, these priorities are lost on many powerlifters. But neglecting these responsibilities can mean the difference between elite and professional.

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The commercial gym provides you with over ten times the amount of opportunities. You have numerous machines, swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs and sometimes daycare. You can go from training three days a week to training five or six days a week. You have the chance to really focus on those areas like your back, triceps, shoulders, core and biceps, the muscles that are usually neglected because of a lack of opportunities to train them. You need to train your whole body and not just focus on the big three lifts if you want to be the best possible powerlifter that you can be.

Having an Audience

I don’t care who you are. Everyone out there has a small piece of himself that likes to have an audience when he trains. You know you love it when you can see people out of the corner of your eye stop and stare when you walk in with your head down and your hood up. You love that they're thinking, "Who the hell is that monster and what the hell is he gonna do today?"

Because of my conflicting schedule, I train 50 percent of the time with my team and 50 percent of the time alone. I'm more likely to hammer out a difficult workout among a group of people than I am all alone in my powerlifting gym. Having a crowd increases your motivation to train hard. It's like this with everyone in some capacity. Some people thrive on training in front of others and some people don’t care much, but it is there for everyone whether or not they want to admit it. Why not take the help when you can get it?

A powerlifting facility with powerlifters and powerlifting equipment are absolutely vital components to becoming a great powerlifter, but it does leave some of the aspects of being a well-rounded powerlifter a little inconvenient. A membership at most commercial gyms is fairly inexpensive. In addition, most health insurance plans will help you pay for your monthly gym membership. Take advantage of the conveniences of a commercial gym including cardio equipment, assistance and recovery work and the extra motivation of training in front of the public. Become a more well-rounded athlete and your accomplishments in the sport will speak for themselves.

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