Four Training Misconceptions to Avoid

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To ensure that you get the most-effective workouts possible—with the best results—we present four training misconceptions that could hinder your weight room gains.

"More time spent in the weight room is always better."
It's easy to believe spending more time in the weight room will result in increased strength gains. In fact, too much time in the weight room can prevent your muscles from rebuilding, and even cause your body to break down muscle. Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 and trainer to LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees, says, "If you want to be strong, fast and athletic, you need to lift no more than four days a week." He recommends working your lower body and core two days a week, and your upper body and speed development the other two days—while always striving to improve flexibility.

"The Bench Press is the best measure of strength."
Every athlete seems to want a big Bench Press, because it's perceived as the ultimate measure of strength. Certainly it's a great barometer of upper body pressing power; however, think about how often you press while lying on your back during a game. Durkin says,  "If you're an athlete, very rarely are you flat on your back pushing weight straight up. If you are, you're not in a good position to win."

Instead of striving to improve a specific exercise just to compete against your friends, perform exercises—such as Olympic lifts and other functional movements—that will produce on-field performance gains and help you beat your opponents.

"Quantity is more important than quality."
Adding plates to the bar may give you a sense of accomplishment and prove your physical prowess. However, lifting more weight does not always result in improved strength gains if your form breaks down.

Durkin: "You have to focus on movement patterns and speed of movement, not just the amount of weight you lift. If you continually lift heavy, you'll overtrain, hurt your performance and increase the risk of injury."

Each exercise has a prescribed technique to accomplish a specific goal, and deviating from this technique may reduce the exercise's effectiveness—or even put your body in danger. Focus on performing your exercises with proper form, and only add weight if it can be maintained. As a guideline, if you can perform two extra reps on your last set, your muscles are prepared for an additional challenge.

"A beautiful beach body makes you an athlete."
Yes, washboard abs, a huge chest and hulking arms look good on the beach, but they in no way define your athletic ability. "Many athletes spend too much time on their upper bodies and arms—the 'mirror' or 'beach' muscles. To be a great athlete, start at your feet and work up," says Durkin.

Athletes are first and foremost measured on the field, so training to improve game performance should always be your primary goal. Between practice, games and training, you will likely develop a mirror-pleasing body; however, you will gain confidence knowing it resulted from hard work and determination to get better—not simply to look better.

Photo:  Getty Images

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