Workout mistakes are good things. They give us opportunities to learn and grow. If we’re smart, we come out of the experience more knowledgeable and experienced.
This is especially true with strength training. We use evidence-based principles to develop goal-oriented programs that will hopefully provide a return on investment (moving closer to or achieving our goals). Throughout the process, a number of things probably won’t go exactly as planned. Other things will likely work better than expected. If we can improve the things that didn’t work while maintaining the things that were successful, we will come closer to optimizing our training protocol.
Check out three programming errors that could be hindering the effectiveness of your training efforts.
1. Chasing Fatigue
Fatigue is not a good indicator of the effectiveness of an exercise or workout.
Focus on performance. Higher performance leads to better results. Constantly pushing yourself to muscular failure while not allowing enough time for full recovery is far from optimal. The trick is to learn to vary your intensity based on your performance during each workout.
Feeling especially energized and focused when you get to the gym? That might be a good time to raise the intensity and crush some heavy weights.
Feeling lethargic or sleep-deprived throughout the day? Probably a better idea to take it easy at the gym, or even take a rest day and come back at 100 percent the following day.
Over time, you’ll develop a better understanding of your body and avoid preventable injuries or setbacks. It’s certainly still acceptable to push yourself to the limit occasionally. Just be sure to deload your training from time to time.
2. Focusing on Too Much Exercise Variety
Variety is usually a good thing, but sometimes it can complicate things. You don’t need eight to 10 exercises every workout.
Instead of putting forth a sub-optimal effort on several movements, hone in on one or two primary movements for a day and spend the bulk of your energy on those movements. Add one or two supplemental exercises to round out a solid training session.
This approach allows you to concentrate more on quality technique and a higher number of sets. Use a handful of compound movements that hit the greatest number of muscle groups. Forget the weak isolation movements. You can do them at the end of the workout if time and energy permit.
3. Neglecting The Value of Absolute Strength
Absolute strength is the maximum force a muscle can produce in a single voluntary effort.
Increasing your absolute strength will increase the effectiveness of your conditioning, speed and agility training. As your potential to apply maximum force into the ground expands, your ability to cut quickly and sprint faster expands with it. Getting stronger can only benefit you!
Start performing sets under five reps for primary movements such as the Squat, Deadlift, Clean and Overhead Press. Work up to heavy singles, doubles and triples that come close to or even exceed 90 percent of your 1RM (one rep max). Take longer rest periods to allow complete recovery between sets. And don’t accumulate too much volume during your warm-up sets. Save your energy for the most physically and neurologically demanding sets.
Remember, we’re looking for performance. Every repetition should demonstrate technical proficiency. Quality form together with conscious muscle contraction will always be more important than the amount of weight lifted.