Long before I was a trainer, I just loved going to the gym. I read books and magazines about training and I tried lots of things out. When I look back, I realize that while many things I did got positive results, I definitely made mistakes along the way. What I’d like to do this week is tell you a few of my mistakes so that you can avoid making them.
1. Don’t use body part splits. For those that don’t know, many people lift weights according to a schedule of body parts (chest and triceps on Monday, back on Tuesday, etc.) usually hitting each body-part once a week. A standard workout will have someone doing three exercises of three or four sets per body-part. There has been a lot of research done on this and it has been shown that hitting a body part with one exercise three times per week yields greater gains in strength and muscle size when compared to three exercises once a week. There are exceptions, but those usually apply to higher level athletes and bodybuilders. For most people, at least initially, a full-body workout is the way to go.
2. Have well-defined goals. A goal is the seed from which everything grows. Without knowing what you want, how do you know what to do? If you want to gain or lose weight, figure out how much. If you want a better bench press, figure out a number. The goal tells you everything you need to know. It tells you how to eat, how much to lift, how much cardio. It gives you purpose. Don’t be one of those vacant-eyed drones shuffling along on the treadmill for no reason.
3. Measure your progress. Once you have a goal, how do you know you are doing the right things to hit it? You’ve got to measure your progress so you can make any necessary adjustments in your program. This doesn’t mean change everything the moment you don’t notice a change, but measuring your progress over time lets you know if you are on the right track much quicker than guessing.
4. Get help. I lifted for far too long by myself and a result developed some bad habits and fell into a bit of a rut. Don’t be afraid to get some help with your exercise program and especially your exercise form. This will help prevent injuries, will help to keep you motivated and will help put you on the fast track to your goals.
While this certainly doesn’t get into all of the mistakes I’ve made in my exercise career, hopefully it will give you an idea of how to avoid at least a few of them. If you have any questions about how to avoid your own mistakes, please drop me a line or give me a call. Also, be sure to see your doctor before beginning any exercise program.