Starting your fitness journey when everything is shiny, and the gains are coming thick and fast is exciting. You feel like you can’t do anything wrong because every weight you touch turns to muscle.
You’ve been in this game a while and you still enjoy working out, but the gains have slowed, and you’re frustrated by your lack of progress.
Any errors made at the start are covered up by newbie gains and these slip ups become more magnified the longer you’re in the lifting game. How do I know this? I’ve been there.
After training clients for 10 years and training in gyms for longer than I care to remember, I’ve witnessed or experienced these blunders myself that can hold back progress.
And while making mistakes is all part of the learning process, minimizing them while you’re under the bar will help keep you safe, keep you making gains and keep the doctor away.
Think of this as all gain and no pain.
1. Program hopping
It’s natural to think the grass is always greener on the other side. After all, you’re saturated with new exercise fads and their results look incredible and besides, your program isn’t doing squat.
Change is not a bad thing. Change is required when you plateau and or when your routine has become stale. However, too much change doesn’t give your body a chance to adapt to your current program because not everything in the weight room happens straight away.
It’s a fine line.
My general rule of thumb is finishing the program first and then evaluating whether it worked or not. For example, loss of body fat, smaller waist or bigger muscles.
Or if you see no changes after 6 weeks, then it’s okay to try something new. Which brings me to the next point.
2. Not tracking progress
How do you know if a program working when you’re not tracking progress? That’s a rhetorical question. Look that up, if you don’t know what it means.
If you’re not recording your sets, reps, weight lifted or taking measurements of your waist, hips, arms and legs before, during and after your program, you’re guessing and not assessing.
Because going by what you see in the mirror and the scale shouldn’t be your only measurement of progress. And occasionally testing yourself to see if you can lift more weight than before, never goes astray either.
3. Not working on strength
No matter what your goals are in the weight room, whether it’s muscle building or fat loss, all goals are easier by being stronger in the core lifts. Which are
By getting stronger, you’ll have more gas in the tank, and the ability to more work without constantly burning yourself out. And while there’s a whole bunch of strength standards in cyberspace, concentrating on adding more weight to the bar or performing more reps with the same weight is all you need to worry about.
Working in the 2-6 rep range in the core lifts for cycles of 4-6 weeks will get you where you want to go sooner.
4. Not asking for help
There’s no such thing as perfect form in the weight room because we’re all put together differently. You can take a deep dive into cyberspace and find out how to do certain lifts, but nothing beats a trained professional (like me) to pick up on any major technique issues
For instance, I deadlifted incorrectly for years and ended up herniating 3 disks. If I’d asked for help sooner, I would have saved myself a lot of pain and money. So please, if you’re unsure about a lift, please ask for help.
I wish I did.
5. Ignoring pain
Common complaints heard in gyms around the world.
“ My shoulder hurts. ” Then he goes straight to the bench press without a warm up.
“Squats hurt my knees.” Goes back to the point 4.
“ My back hurts.” Then they go straight into their crunch routine.
There are times when stuff hurts, and you feel the need to push through it because you feel you’ll be left behind, or you need to work off the hamburger you ate last night. However, ignoring pain and exercising through it over a long period never leads to anything good.
Please remember the adage ‘if it hurts, don’t do it’. It will save you from a ton of pain and your wallet from despair.
6. Ground hog day
Have you seen this movie? If you haven’t, check out the clip below.
Doing the same routine over and over, for weeks on end when you’re starting out is okay if you’re still making progress. However, if you’re experience, doing the same program repeatedly and not making gains, then you need your head read.
This goes back to point 1 and 2. Finish the program and track your progress. If what you’re doing isn’t doing it for you, it’s time for a change.
Yes, mistakes happen along the way but learning from them and limiting them will help you progress in the safest possible manner. Because lying on a Physical Therapist table wrapped in resistance bands is not the definition of a good time.