Weight training is a great choice for anyone who wants to improve their strength. But many people either get minimal results to show for their work, or even injured as they make common mistakes.
So arm yourself with the best weapon – knowledge – and be mindful of avoiding the biggest weight training mistakes we all make:
10. NO GOALS
Without a goal you can’t measure your progress and may get disheartened. If you want to get good results you need something to aim for. It could be general, like getting a more athletic physique, or quantifiable, like being able to perform 20 pull-ups, 3 days a week. Try setting SMART goals to help you accomplish your desires.
2. NOT KEEPING A TRAINING LOG
Keeping a training log, whether in journal form or on your smartphone, allows you to preplan your workouts and work towards your goals. Include the date, bodyweight, exercises, rest, how you felt and diet information. Competing against yourself will motivate you and improve your workouts.
3. SWITCHING PROGRAMS TOO MUCH
There are a lot of fitness programs which may promise to deliver amazing results. It’s tempting to keep trying different ones to find the miracle one. Variety can be good, but be strong and stick to a program you enjoy for at least a month before opting to try another.
4. FAILING TO FAIL
Failure is when you cannot physically complete another rep in a set with good form. While beginners should focus on good technique and stick to recommended reps, experienced people will benefit greatly from training to failure, or doing AMAP (as many as possible).
5. NOT INCREASING WORKLOAD
If you don’t make things a little harder each time you visit the gym, you won’t progress. Push yourself towards progressive overload by using heavier loads, doing more reps, doing the same reps with increased range of motion, or doing the same reps in less time.
6. TOO MUCH/TOO LITTLE REST
Studies show our muscles need 24 – 48 hours rest after a workout, depending on the intensity. Muscle growth only takes place when we are resting. You will also have more energy for the next workout. Conversely, resting too long means your hard work loses its effect. The solution? Go for gentle activity on rest days.
All credit for trying to work hard, but too much training leaves lifters weak, discouraged and sometimes injured. At most, aim to spend 45 – 60 minutes at the gym. Not forgetting to warm up properly. If you’re not sure how much training you should be doing, find a decent personal trainer for some advice.
8. NO SPOTTER
It’s dangerous to lift heavy weights without a spotter. It’s also hard to motivate yourself to push harder when working alone. Tell your gym you’re looking for a workout partner and they should be able to hook you up with someone.
9. WEIGHT OVER TECHNIQUE
It might be tempting to exercise with more weight whilst sacrificing technique, but this is a sure way to injury yourself. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to lift heavy weights to add bulk. Proper technique often recruits more muscle, and you can add intensity by performing the move more slowly.
10. WORKING OUT DURING ILLNESS OR INJURY
It sounds obvious, but working out when you’re feeling unwell will lead to weakness. Any energy you have should be used to help you recover from your illness. Do not use the energy to build more muscle tissue. If you are injured, ample rest is advised to help you recover sooner.
Trevor, I would think train to failure refers to doing reps with a weight until you can't do another rep, meaning you've done enough on that arm. I suspect overtraining refers to doing this twice a day, 7 days a week!!
finding the right point is very tricky when it comes to heavy training. I think the difference between 'train to failure' and 'don't overtrain' is the same as learning the difference between good pain (from effort) and bad pain (from injury). Sadly it may only come from experience!
So train to failure but also don't over train - isn't this more or less contradictory?
I made the mistake of going to the gym once when I felt the beginning of a cold . But I was obsessed with sticking to my routine, and felt very 'noble# still going. I felt so dreadful after and think I made the cold worse and so I even had a couple of days off work - unheard of for me.
the point about rest days is very important. I've tried to rush it in the past and the penalty is injury.
I definitely fell into the camp of not increasing my workload. I probably did the same workout for 5 years or so! it was only when I started to get bored that I realised this, then upped my training and saw a noticeable difference in physique.