Many strength training mistakes are made by both beginner and advanced lifters alike. Here’s your go-to list of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Taking Advantage of Momentum When You Shouldn’t
Certain power movements require some momentum to accomplish. However, the average person uses way too much momentum and swinging when they lift.
Momentum doesn’t work a muscle through the full range of motion. Instead, it works toward improving your reversal strength. When you lower a weight down and immediately reverse it, there is a large amount of stored kinetic energy. This energy acts like a spring and ends up neglecting the beginning of the concentric phase of the movement.
Training Your Ego Instead of Your Muscles
A lot of people are afraid to use the amount of weight they should be using. That’s because it’s typically much less than what they work out with.
Afraid to be thought of as weak, they proceed to load up a bar with weight they can’t lift correctly. In essence, they are exercising their ego instead of their muscles. Use the right amount of weight and don’t worry what others think.
Using a Reduced Range of Motion
There are times when partial reps have a benefit – like when you’re trying to train your sticking points. For most people though, they should be lowering the weight and raising it through the full range of motion.
Unless you want to get really good at doing quarter squats or partial pull-ups, you must carry the load from beginning to end as much distance as safely possible.
Not Paying as Much Attention to Your Lower Body
It seems men are more guilty of this than women are. It’s the beach body mentality – arms and chest get priority. Unless you want to look like Mr Potato Head, you need to be training your lower body with the same intensity as your upper.
Your quads, hamstrings, hips, and glutes are huge muscles – much bigger than your chest, biceps, and triceps. Adding muscle to these areas will do amazing things for your physique.
Not Including a Form of Periodization or Progressive Overload
Do you keep track of your workouts? If you’re going into the gym and doing the same thing each time, you’re never going to make any real progress.
You must plan your workouts so that you’re continually getting stronger over a period of time. You might have to push forward with weight and then back off some before pushing forward again, but the overall trend should be up if your goal is to get stronger.
Unknowingly Creating Muscle Imbalances
Antagonistic muscles, the muscles that are opposite the muscles getting worked, need to be trained in balance. In addition, stabilizer muscles often get neglected, which keeps them weak and leads to injury when lifting heavy weight. Make sure all muscles in your body, however small or unnoticed, are being training equally.
Trying to Spot Reduce Fat With Exercise
Using the leg extension, leg curl, abductor/adductor, or glute machines aren’t going to help you tone up your butt and legs any better than any other exercise. That’s because fat loss cannot be targeted with exercise.
Fat loss is systemic, not localized. Use strength training to work your entire body and to create a metabolic environment that’s conducive to fat loss. Your diet will take care of the fat loss.
Attempting to Train Through Sickness or Injury
I’m guilty of this one. Getting sick or injured always seems to happen when I’m at the height of motivation. Let’s be real though – you’re doing more harm than good by trying to tough it out.
Give your body time to recover from an injury before you hurt yourself even more. Same with being sick – let your body use its energy resources to get you feeling better instead of using them to rebuild muscle tissue.
Not Giving Yourself Enough Rest Before Your Next Workout
You stimulate growth when you train, but you grow when you rest. Training and recovery are equally important. Your muscles must be recovered if they are to work at their max capacity. Depending on the intensity of your workout, the amount of work you did, and your diet, you may need 48 hours or more to fully recover.
Overdoing the Isolation Exercises
Isolation exercises are fun, but they are the long route to results. Compound movements, exercises that use multiple muscle groups at once, are much more effective at building muscle and strength. Make the core of your strength training program composed of compound exercises, and then use the isolation movements to work on weak points.
Keeping Your Intensity Levels Too Low
Simply going through the motions isn’t going to do much for your physique. Ladies, it’s time to put the colored dumbbells aside unless they’re difficult for you to use. Men, being able to squat as much as you bench is a sign you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough on lower body days.
Using High Reps Thinking it Will Burn More Fat
Higher reps don’t burn any more fat than lower reps. The goal of strength training isn’t to burn fat, it is to get stronger and add muscle. Use a mixture of rep schemes and then focus on your diet if you want to lose body fat.
Not Doing a Proper Warm Up
Warm ups don’t get the attention they should. Nearly every one of my injuries can be attributed to not fully warming up.
You must get your heart rate up and blood to the muscles before using maximal loads. Doing some dynamic stretching before a workout can help prevent injury and even improve performance.