Being in the gym trenches for over 30 years and training clients for over 13 is plenty of time for me to make many mistakes. And I have, but that’s okay because making mistakes is one way to learn. Now, my pain can be your gain.
Making mistakes is part of the learning process; if you make the same mistake more than once, that is on you. Well, that’s what my wife tells me. The point is that this article is about reducing them to keep you safe, keep you making gains, and minimize your medical bills. Here, I’ll dive into the top four mistakes I’ve seen or experienced so you will do better.
Learning from your mistakes is good; learning from mine is better.
Stop Program Hopping
It’s natural to think the grass is always greener on the other side — especially since you’ve been on the same program for a bit and your friend is telling you about this wonderful new diet or workout program. After all, we’re saturated with the latest trends, exercises, and diets that look great, especially if what you are doing doesn’t SEEM to be working.
Sometimes, you change what you are doing, and when people change too much to know whether the program is working. That’s not to say you shouldn’t change because it is needed when you’ve plateaued or your routine has become stale.
But too much program hopping doesn’t allow your body to adapt to your current program because results take time. It’s a fine line.
What You Should Do: My rule is to finish the program and evaluate whether it worked. Then, determine if you lost body fat, tightened your tummy, built bigger muscles, or got stronger. If you haven’t seen any changes in the six weeks since you have been doing the program, it might be acceptable to try a new one.
You Are Not Measuring Progress
How do you know if a program works when you’re not tracking your progress? If you don’t keep track of your sets, reps, weight lifted, or body fat levels during and after your program, you’re guessing and not measuring. Going by what you see in the mirror and the scale shouldn’t be your only sign of progress.
What You Should Do: Record this in a journal or make your own Google sheet to see if you’re progressing from week to week. Invest in a tape measure or a body fat tester and record your results.
You Go It Alone
The adage of the lawyer representing him or herself has a fool for a client. Now, it is great to be self-sufficient and go alone because you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. But if you are stuck, unsure why an exercise hurts. Or if you think you’re doing an exercise wrong, YouTube and Bro’s advice can only take you so far. It may be time to ask for a trained professional help (like me) who has been there before. It is okay to ask for help.
What You Should Do: Politely ask a trainer or training buddy to watch your form for glitches or advice about what’s got you stuck. If you’re unsure about a lift, ask a professional for help. It will save you from trouble.
You Are Not Training For Strength
No matter what your goals are, all those goals you have are more manageable by being stronger in lifts like
Hinges Or Deadlifts
When you’re stronger or in the process of getting stronger, you’ll have more gas in the tank and the ability to train (and do more fun stuff in general) without burning yourself out. If you’re training for fat loss, strength training will help you retain muscle while in a calorie deficit.
While there are a bunch of strength standards on the internet, all you really need to worry about is adding weight to the bar or doing more reps with the same weight.
What You Should Do: No matter what resistance training program you’re doing, you must include lifts in the three to six-rep range for four to six weeks.
You (and I) all make mistakes, but some mistakes hold back your progress that you don’t realize you’re making. But learning from and limiting them will help you progress safely without ending up on the physical therapist’s table or looking at the scale or mirror in disappointment.