Resistance training is a huge part of getting in shape. It provides the foundations for building muscle and adding a better structure to your body. However, many people start their journey without much knowledge or guidance and make several mistakes as a result.
This not only sets back your progress in terms of fat loss and your body shape, but also puts you at risk of injury, which can put you on the sideline for months. Building up knowledge of how to approach resistance training, either through working with a coach or doing your own research, is going to catapult you forward faster than most.
So, what common training mistakes do I see as a coach? How can avoiding these improve your training and body composition?
Not Mastering Exercise Execution
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their training is not placing enough emphasis on technique. As a result, not only can you not make progress with your body shape, but you also put yourself at a much higher risk of gaining a serious injury, particularly on the heavier, compound lifts. This is why, before you look to increase or even add any weight, your exercise execution needs to be of a high standard.
For some people, this can progress easily, and once it does, only then must resistance be added. For others, it takes weeks to perform an exercise correctly and move to the next level. However, this is a great indicator of progress because it shows improvement in coordination, balance, flexibility, knowledge, and your ability to feel a muscle group working. Make sure that exercise execution is high on your list of priorities when training.
Not Enough Isolation Work On Individual Muscle Groups
Another key part of your training programme when you are a beginner is having exercises that you can progress as you go on. For example, moving from a machine-based exercise where you are locked in and can progress the weight, to a freewight, compound movement that recruits multiple muscles at once and is more metabolically challenging is an excellent sign of improvement. However, if you are initially weak in key muscle groups, make sure that you train muscles in isolation first before moving on to compound exercises that require strength from multiple areas in function.
Lifting Too Much, Too Soon
Another common mistake that is made by many people, particularly males, is lifting more weight than they can handle. In order to gain more muscle, you need to make sure that you are consistently overloading the muscle(s), week by week so that it is working harder, meaning that the breaking down is more intense during the session and therefore new muscle tissue is being developed during the eating and recovery phases.
However, lifting too heavy before exercise execution, stability, flexibility and mobility has improved is only going to the target muscle not being hit properly, poor quality sessions and the potential of an injury. So, make sure that you are comfortable with a certain exercise before you increase the weight over time, both for the benefit of your progress and safety when training.
Changing Things Up Too Quickly
Many people fall into the trap of thinking that they need lots of variety with their workouts when, in fact, you need a simple plan that you can repeat multiple times per week. Full body workouts are great for beginners because you can target upper and lower body muscle groups that need strengthening in one session. Very often, beginners are not strong in key areas of their body, such as the posterior chain (quads, glutes, hamstrings), back, shoulders, and arms and these workouts allow you to make great improvements in these areas. It also makes the sessions uncomplicated and less daunting, meaning you can put all your focus on performing each exercise expertly.
Focusing On Sweat And Calorie Burn
Many people make the mistake of treating resistance training as a way of burning calories. As a result, other mistakes are made, such as doing too many reps with light weights, performing sets with fast tempo, and prioritising quantity over quality. Resistance training is in fact about building muscle, increasing strength, adding structure to your body, and improving the health of your bones and joints, which in turn will result in less pain. Of course, you burn plenty of calories during the session and in the recovery, but the sooner you focus less on that and more on the aforementioned benefits, the more progress you will make.
So, it can be very easy to make mistakes when you are training, and the most common I see as a coach are not mastering exercise execution, not enough isolation work on individual muscle groups, lifting too much, too soon, changing things up too quickly, focusing on sweat and calorie burn. Identifying these mistakes and fixing them will not only progress your training, but will also accelerate progress with your body shape and keep you safe from injuries and niggles.
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