We often talk about To-Do lists. I wrote a piece on how to train optimally HERE if that’s what you’re searching for.
We tend to focus on things that need to be done instead of mistakes to be avoided. Today, you are going to find out what the 6 things are you should avoid if you want to get better after in the gym.
To make any progress, you have to walk a narrow path between opposing concepts.
Bear with me and read to the end. Once again the theme here is to stay in the OPTIMAL range of things.
1) Lifting too heavy
This is usually targeted towards men, but not systematically. More often than not we are lured towards heavy weights.
What makes matters worse is the social media trap that leads to showing off rather than doing what is needed. Performing technically perfect sets of 10 reps with 30% of a 1 rep max isn’t internet friendly, unless you’re already beautiful, huge, muscular, or shredded.
Lifting too heavy too fast will do a few things. You are going to lift with bad form, you are going to injure yourself, you are going to overtrain and stall your progress.
Start light, and never go under 5 reps before 1 year of lifting.
2) Lifting too light
Maybe you are comfortable with your 3 sets of 10 at 100lbs. Every week… For the past 15 years.
Maybe it’s time for a change. If you haven’t made any noticeable progress, it might be because you’ve injured yourself and you’re scared, you’re satisfied with what you have, or the program you’re doing says it’s 3×10 at 100lbs, and it worked in the past so you’re just going to that over and over and over.
Something should be increasing every week. It can be the weight, it can be the reps, the sets, it can be lifting faster, it can be lifting slower (for more time under tension), but something has to increase. And by SOMETHING I mean ONE thing. Don’t increase everything at the same time or you’ll be running into a wall very fast. And that hurts.
3) Doing the same program all the time
Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Curls, Lat pulls, Latereal raises. If most of your training only includes these lifts you are missing out on 99,999% of training.
Yes they are bang for your buck exercises, but if you don’t address weaknesses, or can’t see weaknesses because you only do lifts you are good at, then you will stall, and injure yourself.
Why? because if you only train the same ranges of motion over and over again, yes you’ll be goo din those, but the lagging muscles that don’t get the needed attention won’t keep up, and sooner or later, they are going to scream.
Yes, start with a solid base of classical lifts, but change widths, angles, grips, rhythm, bar girth, barbells, dumbbell, add chains, add elastic bands, but change something.
4) Changing your program all the time
Annoying isn’t it?
Everything I say, I immediately throw the opposite idea in your face. If you change lifts every week you won’t be able to know if you’ve made any progress. You should do the same lift and increase something about it for about 3 weeks, or 6 workouts. That is enough time to push progress to it’s limit, and enough to stop before you stall.
People that change program every workout usually don’t have a plan to start. They kind of show up in the gym, wander around, do something with a random amount of weight for as many reps as they can muster. They do this for as much as 2 to 3 hours just doing everything and anything. Not a great way to start.
You should be able to see you are making progress.
5) Not resting enough
This applies to the micro and the macro aspects of training.
In the micro ( during a training session) if you rest less than 2:30mins between lifts you have to understand why you are doing so.
If you aren’t timing your rest and doing it “from feel”, I suggest you compare your feelings to what the clock says. Maybe you’re delusional and resting not enough / too much.
In the macro (outside of training sessions) you should have at least 72 hours between 2 sessions on the same muscle group unless you are taking recovery drugs like steroids. If you don’t let your muscle recover enough between sessions, you’ll just be breaking muscle down, and not letting is overcompensate. And you should be sleeping accordingly. 6 hours minimum, 7h hours is ok, 8 to 9 hours a night is the best.
Whether you are training for strength or for muscle growth, resting enough is key.
6) Resting too much
This is a different kind of beast.
If you go off and chat with your friends for 12 minutes between sets, you won’t be achieving the results you expect in the gym. Then again, maybe going to the gym is your social break from work, and that is what you do there. Fine by me. But don’t tell me you « train » for 3 hours.
If your session is 3 or 4 hours longs, and you lifted less in total than someone who is putting in an efficient and wee planned 45minutes, the hormonal window that is triggered by exercice will shut down within that 45 minute timeframe, and you will be missing out on gains in the long run.
Spend time researching how to do quality work in the gym. If you are lost at the beginning and don’t have time to do it, hire a personal trainer for 2 or 3 sessions, then order some online programs.
Programs need to include :
- Timed Rest
Exercise should be done in pursuit of a goal, planned, and adapted weekly.
So have fun out there, and be sure not to do any of these mistakes.
Take it easy.