Lifting weights changed my life. I used to be flabby and self-conscious. Today, I’m strong and confident. I believe proper strength training programming can help anyone accomplish the same goal. Unfortunately, most people go about it the wrong way, and waste tons of valuable time in the process. It breaks my heart to see so much potential go to waste. That’s why I want to help you avoid these strength training programming mistakes. Make every second count!
Your ego is not your friend, and here’s why. Let’s say you’re a beginner. At this stage, you should be concerned with learning proper technique, not lifting heavy weights. There’s no point in adding plates to the bar if you can’t perform the exercise correctly!
So there you are, doing squats with an empty bar (hey, we all have to start somewhere). Just then, a ripped vixen walks up to the squat rack next to you. You know it’s not polite to stare, but you can’t help it. She’s doing squats with three big plates on either end! Who is she, Wonder Woman?
Now you feel like a wimp. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” That’s why you’re suddenly adding a 45-pound plate to each end of your bar making strength training programming mistake #1. And that’s also why you’ll end up in the emergency room within the hour. Horrific injuries happen when you try to lift weights you’re not ready for!
Be patient with yourself. You may have to practice squats with an empty bar (or even without a bar!) for a while, but once you can execute the movements with good form, you’ll be moving up to the heavier weights before you know it!
“Uh, Jay, you just spent four whole paragraphs telling me not to push too hard!” Yep, that’s true. Welcome to Opposite Day! Seriously though, you need to find a good middle ground.
A lot of celebrity trainers (*cough* Tracy Anderson *cough*) tell women they shouldn’t lift dumbbells that weigh more than five or ten pounds because they’ll get “bulky”.
Nonsense! Another strength training programming myth!
For this to happen you’d have to lift heavy weights for years, eat like it’s your job, and take steroids to look like a bodybuilder. Women don’t have enough testosterone to gain muscle mass as fast as men do. It’s a non-issue.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If either of the following cases is true, you aren’t working hard enough:
A – You can do more than 15 repetitions without getting tired.
B – You can do the last two repetitions with perfect technique.
A lot of trainers act like there’s an “absolute best” repetition range. There isn’t. It depends on your fitness goals and experience level. If you’ve never done squats in your life, I recommend five repetitions. The more reps you do, the harder it is to maintain good form.
If you’ve been practicing squats for a few months and want to lose weight or improve your endurance, it’s okay to increase your repetitions. In this case, I recommend a range of 12 to 15 repetitions. This is something I help my online coaching clients figure out more in-depth.
Lifting weights literally tears your muscles apart. Sounds violent, doesn’t it? Here’s the good news: After your body has time to recover, your muscles come back stronger!
You don’t get fit while lifting weights; you get fit while recovering after lifting weights. If you train every day, your body won’t have the chance to heal. Then what? No progress! Which is strength training programming mistake #3!
It’s easy to tell when you’re not recovering enough. Watch out for these two warning signs:
A – You aren’t able to lift a heavier weight.
B – You can’t do more repetitions with the same weight.
Note: As you gain experience, it gets harder to gain strength. Thus, this doesn’t apply to advanced lifters, only beginners.
Lift weights three alternate days per week (for example, Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thurs/Sat).
Regardless of what days you exercise, always take a day to rest in between. That doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Walk your dog. Take a hike with friends. Spend 20–30 minutes on a stationary bike. These activities aren’t strenuous enough to interfere with your strength training programming, so go for it!
You are more than a number! Don’t define yourself by the scale, especially because it can be misleading.
It’s smart to measure your waist and take photos to monitor your progress while on your strength training programming. These measurements will give you a more accurate reading of your results. Check your progress on the first or last day of every month.
If your results are lacking, don’t beat yourself up, but do be real with yourself. Take an honest look at your eating habits. Do they support your goals or detract from them? Make the necessary adjustments and try again. Repeat until you reach your weight-loss goal!
I’m curious: Have you made any of these strength training programming mistakes? How have they affected your training? Share your experience in the comments! And if you found this post helpful, be sure to share it with your friends! You don’t want them to make the same strength training programming mistakes, do you?