When it comes to training, complicated does not always equate to better results. Too often I see athletes perform crazy exercises or complex routines, yet they fail to adhere to the basics. Your workout may look cool, but it might not seem so great when you aren’t adding weight to the bar or seeing improvements on the field.
I’ve come up with a four-point solution based on my experience in the industry, with a touch of science for good measure. When you start your next training phase—whether you’re training for size and strength, general fitness or for your sport—remember these mistakes and how to correct them. They will help you build an effective routine.
Mistake No. 1: Pushing More Than Pulling
Overworking the muscles on the frontside of your body—which includes the chest, shoulders, quads and abs—may help you look good in a mirror but will leave you slow and weak on the field. The muscles of the posterior chains (i.e., the backside of your body) provide strength, power and stability for sprinting, jumping or performing virtually any sport skill.
That being said, you must focus more on pulling exercises than pressing exercises, such as the the much-celebrated Bench Press. I recommend performing two pulling exercises for every pressing exercise. Give the following exercises a place in your program:
- Glute-Ham Raises
- Inverted Rows
- Face Pulls
Mistake No. 2: Ignoring Compound Movements
To get better as an athlete, you have to train like one. You can’t expect to get better on the field by sitting on a bench and doing a few Bicep Curls. You need to perform compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups in a full range of motion to simulate athletic movements.
As a general rule, if the exercise requires you to move more than one joint, it’s a compound movement. Here are a few examples:
- Standing Shoulder Press
- Barbell Rows
- Lunges or Split Squats
- Power Clean (advanced)
Mistake No. 3: Doing Too Much Cardio
Cardiovascular fitness is essential for endurance and overall health. But this doesn’t mean that you should jog or bike for a long duration at a moderate pace. In fact, too much long-duration cardio can actually stall your training gains and inhibit your performance, because your body may begin to break down muscle for fuel—especially if your nutrition plan is imperfect.
A better approach is to implement interval training. To do this, sprint the straightaway of a track and walk the curves for a total of six laps. You will develop your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning at the same time, giving you the endurance you need for the duration of a game. Also, the high-intensity sprints will kick-start your metabolism, causing your body to burn more calories even after you finish your workout.
Mistake No. 4: Spending Too Little Time Actually Training
It’s important to take care of your body—I’m the first to admit that. However, mobility work, stretching and corrective exercises should not be the focus of your workout. There’s a fine line you don’t want to cross with this aspect of your training. Too little, and you will increase your risk of injury. Too much, and you will limit the amount of strength and size you can achieve from your training.
Take 10 to 15 minutes to perform a dynamic warm-up and five to 10 minutes to cool down. Work out at a high intensity for at least 45 minutes. Your body needs to be challenged to make training gains.
Simple logic and an objective look at the entire situation can highlight weaknesses in your program. Train hard, lift and move explosively, use big moves and frequently pull. If you keep these tips in mind, rest assured: you’ll be on the right track.