3 Common Pitfalls in the Gym

None of us set out to get injured.

Then why is it that everyone knows someone who has had a workout related injury?

We are at the gym to be healthy for goodness sake!

Adjusting these three things can help you and your friends have awesome workout sessions.

Maybe even save you a future trip to a healthcare professional!

Disclaimer: We LOVE gyms. We love our gym, we love our gym people. They are amazing places and so much good truth and positive energy is found there. This blog is about a micro slice of gym culture that we’d like to see change.

Stop giving 100%, yup you heard us right!

Is this exhausted person you? Or maybe the person you want to be after your workouts?

Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s ok to dial it back a little bit in the gym.


Because you can get just as strong without doing so! And you can get injured if you push yourself too hard all the time.

We see the professionals laying on the floor, pools of sweat, everything left on the field of battle.

What most people don’t have is the same time and ability to manage their recovery like these individuals, remember it is their job! Their full time job.

Too often we feel that unless the tank is empty like them we are leaving results on the table.

But is that true?

A review of 15 studies encompassing 394 individuals using resistance training (from untrained individuals to semi-pro players) found that those training to near failure had similar results to those training to complete failure.

This was for both strength development as well as muscle size.

In fact, those who trained to “near” got just a tiny bit more strength benefits. Yup, more.

Training too often to failure can affect your body’s ability to recover and can easily lead to injury or overtraining, taking away all those gains you’ve worked so hard for.

How hard should you work?

We recommend taking the time to understand Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) or Reps in Reserve (RIR below)

Make sure you get a good workout.

But just like your car, don’t run your body to empty.

No Pain, No Gain…right?

For far too often this leads gym goers into very sticky situations.

Pain is a very important signal, we wrote a little bit about it HERE.

Quite simply it should not be ignored nor pushed through!


Because pain puts you in situations you CANNOT control.

When you step onto a nail, you do not have to take the time to consider how painful it is going to be before your body responds.

Your body recognizes the danger, pulls the foot up, and in the same moment stamps the other leg down so you can balance.

This is called the “Withdrawal Response”

This happens everywhere in the body.

By pushing into pain your body is changing how you are accomplishing things, whether you know it or not.

You are then putting pressures on other portions of your body that could lead to even more problems.

Knee pain becomes hip pain becomes low back pain and soon you have cheated yourself out of a good workout by not addressing the area sooner.

It will never catch on, but when you hear ‘No Pain, No Gain’ tell yourself ‘No Challenge, No Change’ If you are challenging yourself, there is positive change.

When that challenge starts to turn to pain, it’s time for you to respond to that pain by finding a professional who can guide you out of it.

Don’t cheat yourself in the long term by suffering through it.

Skipping or Devaluing the Basics

We will be the first to say it is really really fun to do a complex movement with high intensity.

Ripping a loaded barbell off the floor, popping those hips, and catching it in the front rack for a clean is one of the coolest feeling in the world.

Are kettlebell swings or cleans up for your workout today?

How is your leg drive in a more basic hinge pattern like deadlifts?

For many who walk through our doors they have pain with high intensity activities.

By slowing them down and focusing on the basics we find the movement problems. By decreasing the intensity/challenge of the situations we are able to make meaningful differences and then ramp back up.

Plain and simple you likely learned addition and subtraction prior to multiplication and division.

In fact better understanding of addition and subtraction only improves your understanding of multiplication and division.

Advancing too early can lead to some injuries.

Please, take the time to master the basics.

Our clients hate that we always bring them back to the basics, until their pain goes away and they set new personal bests in the more complex and more intense activities.

A great way to find out where you may be missing some technique is by comparing lifts to one another to find if there is a technique deficit. These comparisons are referred to as ‘lift ratios’.

Using our the favorite movements, the strict press, the back squat, and the deadlift, can help you find if you may need to go back and work on one of these prior to moving forward.

This is actually how CrossFit is designed to be given to individuals in the Foundational Movements, only moving forward once mastered, as seen in the Level 1 handbook.

Air Squat -> Front squat -> Overhead Squat

Deadlift -> Deadlift with High Pull -> Med Ball Clean

Strict Press -> Push Press -> Push Jerk

Get a Guide

Unlike many healthcare professionals out there at Gray Duck we don’t “fix you” we help YOU fix yourself.

We help people find the border between challenge and exhaustion, find an entry point for movement without pain, and master the basics that then translate into higher intensity movements.

Every single one of our patients who commits to this process gets better and sets personal bests in their activity without pain.

We don’t promise that it will be easy, or quick, because it won’t.

If its easy, quick, or done to you it’s going to be temporary.

But we do promise that it will be worth it!

Click HERE to set up your 15 minute phone consultation with a specialist to see how we can help!

🚫The content in this is NOT medical or health advice and is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. See a healthcare professional if you have any questions about your individual healthcare needs.🚫


  • Davies T, Orr R, Halaki M, Hackett D. Effect of Training Leading to Repetition Failure on Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2016 Apr;46(4):487-502.