Five Mistakes You Might Be Making With Your Workout Program
1. You can’t out work bad eating habits.
A very big part of how you look is linked to how you eat. In my 20’s, I always thought my lack of gains was linked to not working out hard enough. I went to the gym and warmed up with 15 min of abs hoping to get a six pack, but the reality is you need to have 6 servings of stop eating so much crap! You can’t out run bad eating habits. You may be able to get away with it better when you’re in your 20’s, but trust me, learn to eat like an adult. Prepare your meals ahead of time, stop eating out, drink plenty of water, and limit your consumptions of junk food and alcohol.
2. Stick to the big movements.
The simple movements have the greatest rewards. Bench presses, overhead presses, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts are all the cornerstone of building a strong, athletic, and good-looking physique. You can spend your time in the gym doing “curls for the girls” but you will get more results and have a better looking physique if you spend your time on a weighted chin-up. Get good at the basics, they change the body and will continue to develop muscle. As you develop that muscle and simultaneously work on your nutrition, the fruits of your labor will come shining through. I am not saying doing extra sets to develop size or shape of a particular area is a waste of time. If you like it, do it. I get a lot of guys ask me about adding size to their arms but still struggle to lift their bodyweight on bench or do a decent set of pull-ups. Women will ask about developing their glutes through the use of hip bridges but they can’t deadlift their bodyweight. The small isolated movements are great for refining, but stick to the big movements to get the results you want.
3. Less is more.
I spent most of my late teens and early 20’s training with a very high volume. Following routines that professional bodybuilders claimed to do. German high volume training, popularized by Arnold, has some merit, but most natural individuals won’t recover from the high volume and end up overtrained and underdeveloped. Instead focus on 3-4 movements per workout done at moderate intensity with great technique and you will get amazing results. I have had success improving strength, in myself and others, with as little as one exercise a day at about 70% intensity. The time you spend in the gym is important, but the more important element is the time spent recovering. So back off of the volume and recover better for more gains.
4. Strong people don’t rush.
Everybody walking into a gym should be working for strength in order to give them a body that can move, play, and looks good. If your goal is simply to look skinny, just stop eating and lay on the couch. If you’re running around the gym like a chicken with your head cut off, like with a HITT workout, you’re working at burning excessive calories, but if you don’t have a significant base of strength you’re wasting your time. When building your base, take your time between sets by resting or working on some mobility. I will always choose to give a client a few more seconds of rest in exchange for a rep or 5 extra pounds on the bar. So take your time, execute, and learn to lift with technique at greater loads to continue to develop the body you want.
5. Keep a workout log.
This is extremely old fashion, but tracking your workouts is a sure way to know if your getting better. Truly the best use of the log is to notice tendencies. I use it to let me know if I haven’t recovered. If your not able to lift something you might normally be able to lift then you might be overtrained or under rested. Track your big lifts and if you miss a lift on two consecutive days you’re overtrained. Take a day off or drop your weights by 10%. A few simple notes on a iPhone go a long way to making sure you avoid the perils of overtraining.