Ready to build some muscle? If you avoid these eight strength training mistakes your progress will be faster and your workouts much more satisfying!
1. Starting With The Wrong Plan
How often do you see beginners do biceps curls? That’s an isolation exercise designed to train that one muscle. What do they do for their triceps, brachioradialis, brachialis and all the other arm muscles?
A beginner only needs to do exercises that train many muscles at the same time, so-called “compound exercises.” An experienced trainee still builds his plan around them. Do push-ups and pull-ups and you train your chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and your forearms. All with two exercises.
2. Using Momentum, AKA Cheating
Practical example: grab one of your dumbbells, stand up, hold it by your side, then swing it backwards and use the momentum to do a curl. Now hold the dumbbell by your side and do a curl from a standstill. When was getting the dumbbell up more difficult?
Using momentum has its moments when your muscles are too exhausted to do another regular rep. But for maximum muscle growth you have to do as many reps as possible with good form before you start cheating.
3. Not Minding Your Nutrition
The raw material your body uses to build muscle mass is protein. If you train but don’t give your muscles that protein, the growth can’t happen. You give your muscles the incentive to grow, but not the building blocks. When guys ask me about why they aren’t making further gains, one of the first questions I ask is: how is your nutrition?
Aim for about 1 g of protein per lb of body weight and you are on the safe side.
4. Never Adjusting The Weights
If you always use the same weights for the same number of reps, you are going nowhere. Your muscles need challenge and that only happens when the last repetition on the last set really is the last you can do.
The right weight is the one you can do at least six reps per set with and no more than twelve.
5. Not Training Your Lower Body
I have been harping about this for so long, a friend of mine gets great fun out of sending me pictures of guys with humongous upper bodies and spindly skinny legs, knowing it makes me grind my teeth.
Your leg muscles are the largest in your body and every day do tremendous amounts of work: getting you from A to B, while carrying the weight of your entire trunk. Not training them is a long-term health risk and looks ridiculous.
6. Neglecting Rest
You ask your body to start growing its muscles when you train, but the actual growth happens when you rest. Not resting your muscles enough also means they won’t be fully recovered when your next training session comes around. That makes your performance worse.
A good rule of thumb is giving a muscle group two days of rest before you tackle it again.
7. Training While Sick Or Injured
I know how guilt nags at me when I can’t train due to illness, but over the years I also learnt that serious sickness means I shouldn’t ask my body to handle even more stress. It just makes recuperation longer and the workout sessions worthless. In case of injury, it can even cause devastating further damage.
My personal guideline is: when a joint or muscles aches, it gets to do nothing until the pain is gone. And a slight cold is ok, but when I have fever, I take the day off. If, in both cases, things haven’t changed for the better within a week, I see a doctor.
8. Using Weight Training For Weight Loss
I see a lot of women do this: use small weights and do lots of repetitions with it, believing it will aid fat loss. But it’ll neither make your muscles grow, nor does it burn a lot of calories.
When you want to lose weight through exercise, do real cardio.
Pictures courtesy of “cumi & ciki“.