The gym's a crazy place, with lots of ways to pump up, slim down, throw out your back, and even decapitate yourself if you hit the bench press just right. The information overload is killer, and it's easy to to get mislead. Here are five ways you might get hustled a bit, and here's why.
1. High reps doesn't equal toned. A lot of guys want to look more toned than bulky (more on that later), and as a result, tend to think that the best way to that look is to go high rep with light weights. That's not exactly the case. Toned equals muscle minus fat, and the easiest way to up the former while dropping the latter is to do high intensity cardio and lift heavy weights. Now, some high intensity cardio basically is just lots of reps with a low weight, but it's still not a necessity to get that Iggy Pop you might be going for. Just make sure you're eating enough but not a lot, lift, eat a lot of lean protein, and do lots of cardio and you'll be well on your way to slimming down without risk of turning into a 98 pound weakling.
2. Even if you want to get bulky, it's going to be harder than you might think. Steroids and other performance enhancing techniques such as insulin injections, HGH, and pro-hormones are very common in the upper echelons of fitness model circles. A normal guy with normal genetics can get pretty big on their own if they really work at it and eat right, but you're probably not going to get much bigger than an NFL quarterback, much less some freak bodybuilder. For better or for worse, people just don't naturally get that huge.
3. Getting big is more than just one exercise. It's easy for guys to focus on one body part and build their workouts around it, but the importance of working the rest of you isn't just about symmetry. The explanation is long, but basically working one muscle puts your body in a state where it's easier to build all muscles. Remember that the next time you don't feel like doing deadlifts because you're more worried about beefing up your chest.
4. Trainers aren't just worried about helping you lose weight. Trainers are helpful, but they're also business people - their goal is to get you to purchase their services and use them as long as possible. The exercises they teach you will be designed to make you feel abnormally sore in your core, avoid dangerous lifts like deadlifts and dumbbell squats, and build around extra-safe plyometric exercises. They have their use, but a gym routine doesn't need to be complicated to be effective.
5. When it comes to lifting, keep it simple, stupid. The only exercise manual you'll need is Starting Strength, a workout program focused on simple, heavy lifts. It's boring and basic, but it works, and most guys use some version of it. You don't need to do a thousand different exercises to get huge, you can do it just focusing on basic lifts.
Good luck, hulk!