We all want to get the most out of our training, am I right? And just like everything else in life worth doing, I’m sure you’re going about your training with the best intentions. But what if I told you that some of the things you’re currently doing might actually be holding you back, or even worse, causing you to regress?
Well fear not fellow enthusiast of physical fitness, today I’m going to cover some of the mistakes I’ve seen (cough and done myself) that might be preventing you from becoming a complete and total badass.
Being Married to a Certain Rep/Set Scheme
We’ve all had our starting points. 3×10. 5×5. And I’m sure they all worked for a decent amount of time. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? While this is true, after a while you’re going to need to branch out and try different things to continuing seeing results. Different rep ranges elicit different physical qualities and varying what you do in your training program can help you break through plateaus. Think about all the different qualities you can train for. There’s power, absolute strength, speed strength, strength speed, functional hypertrophy, structural hypertrophy, endurance, and reactive qualities like those trained through plyometrics. When you attach a ball and chain to yourself in the form of ONLY one rep scheme, you’re limiting your potential gains (or losses if fat loss is your thang).
So let’s say your goal is to get crazy strong. Now, of course certain rep ranges are associated with certain physical qualities (ex: absolute strength = very low reps with very heavy weight). So your first thought might be to ONLY lift heavy weights, ALL the time. But including other types of rep ranges into your program might actually help you see strength gains. Including rep ranges geared towards hypertrophy might help you gain some lean muscle mass which in turn may increase your strength. Including some work geared towards power might allow you to move weight faster which will lead to similar gains. Don’t allow yourself to be a one trick pony.
Having said that, the next mistake is pretty closely related….
Shitty Program Design
There’s a fine line between varying rep schemes and designing a shitty program. Systematically including high reps that are usually associated with endurance in your hypertrophy program is one thing, but don’t expect to see results when you do deadlifts with 95% of your 1RM and then immediately do 30+ squats for multiple sets. Your body won’t know how the hell to adapt to the type of stimulus you’re introducing to it. While certain rep schemes can complement each other quite nicely to help you achieve a goal, combining others is a pretty good way to not ever see results. You can’t train explosive Olympic lifts and endurance type activities in the same workout and expect to have both of those qualities improve. Sure, it can be a great way to get in shape in a general sense, but don’t expect to be elite at any specific physical quality. You want to be powerful? Lift heavy weights and then lift lighter weights fast. Want to be the biggest man in the room? Design a program with a high amount of volume and spend some time under tension. Don’t combine power, strength, endurance, and hypertrophy in one program and expect to see great results SPECIFIC to one physical quality.
Going off of this point, I feel this following point may strike a nerve with a certain group of people.
Variety Just for the Sake of Variety
This means going into a gym and just winging it. Or participating in the ‘WOD’ that was thrown together in less than 2 minutes (at least at some facilities. Keep calm Crossfitters, I’m aware not all WOD’s are haphazardly thrown together.) But this point can go in a bunch of different directions. However, just like I said before, you will not see tremendous results by randomly throwing together a training program with randomized rep schemes, rest periods, and intensities. Literally anyone can make a workout with the goal being ‘to make someone tired’.
But good programs and good coaches don’t just make you tired.
They make you better.
To be honest, most people do not need a crazy amount of variety in their training programs to see results. Simplicity is the usually the best thing.
A lot of people, especially beginners, think that you need to constantly change the types of exercises you do to ‘confuse’ the muscle, or whatever people are saying these days.
Can changing exercises every 3-4 weeks be beneficial? Abso-friggin-lutely. But is changing your program on a weekly basis necessary? Heeeeeeeeeell no. I promise you that if you get really, really good at the basics and fundamentals, you will see plenty of results going forward. And you won’t even need to include a crazy amount of exercises. I’ll even tell you how I design my client’s training programs. Get a pen and calculator because it’s pretty complex.
- Hip dominant lift
- Knee dominant lift
- Weighted carry
Aaaaaand that’s about it. And here is the crazy part. My clients see success! No crazy exercises that you see on YouTube or in Under Armour commercials.
Neglecting Movement Quality and Mobility
So you can’t quite do a squat without letting your heels come off the ground just a little bit. Or your shoulders are a bit tight. No biggie right? WRONG. It might not seem like a huge deal right now, but neglecting these little things can potentially cause big issues down the road one day. Just ask Ashton Kutcher.
Your knees might be saying this one day.
By the way that was a Butterfly Effect joke. Anyone…no?
Training with impaired movement quality is like driving a car with one flat tire. You can get to your destination, but it’s a really dumb thing to do because of the risk of causing even further damage in the long run. Pushing through your training when there is a lack of mobility can cause all sorts of issues (knee pain, aching low back, neck pain, etc). Definitely look to include some form of soft tissue work, stretching, breathing and/or mobility drills into your program. Your body will thank you.
Something as simple as using a foam roller on a daily basis can be the one thing that keeps you moving well, training hard, and feeling great for years to come. Including some form of warmup prior to a training session is always a great idea as well. Make sure to take your joints through a full range of motion, activate important muscles like the ones at your hips, core, and shoulder, and get a little bit of a sweat going to get the most out of your warmup.
Now, combine all of these past point and you get the next mistake that may be holding you back…
Square Peg, Round Hole
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Just because your buddy’s super awesome mass gaining program helped him put on 15lbs of lean mass in 3 months, DOES NOT mean it will work just as effectively for you, me, or the next guy that tries it. Different people will respond to different training variables in different ways. You might put on mass easily with lower reps and heavier weights. I may respond well to very high training volumes. Each person is different. If something is not working effectively like you think it should, don’t continue to jam a square peg into a round hole.
This point doesn’t even have to stop with solely training. The same can be applied to diet. High carb diets may work for some and not others. Eating for your body type can be a great way to help you see success. Read this to learn more about this.
I saved the biggest one for last…
Not Prioritizing Recovery
You want to get cut for summer and put off sleep every night?
I want a mini pony that talks like Rick Ross.
You want to deadlift 500lbs and get 4-5 hours of sleep every night?
I want an on call sushi chef that pays me to eat.
See where I’m going with this?
Don’t get me wrong, training hard is awesome and important. But you absolutely need to make recovery from exercise a priority if you want to see results. If you have a Lamborghini, you can’t keep the pedal to floor nonstop and expect the engine to never wear out. Same thing goes for your body. Including off days, active rest, and learning how to relax will pay huge dividends for you.
Aim to get 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night, eat lots of protein and vegetables (how much? A ton, that’s how much… protein and veggies at EVERY meal), start taking a multivitamin and a fish oil, drink lots of water, and go for a daily walk. Click here or here to learn a little bit more about this stuff.
These are just some of the things that might be holding you back in terms of seeing success. Not sure how to fix them? Seek out a qualified professional to help you then! “Chris I’ve been lifting for 5 years, I don’t need no help.” That line of thinking is such a crappy way to go about training. Even Tiger Woods has a swing coach. So you my friend can definitely benefit from a coach of your own!
Some of this stuff may be somewhat vague and general, so feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss any of this in more detail so you can take your training to the next level.