Even the best intentions could keep you from reaching your fitness goals, so use this guide to double-check that you aren’t sabotaging your own success.
July 27 2021
You probably know by now that strength training isn’t just for athletes. In fact, everybody can benefit from strength training, no matter their age or fitness goals.
Not only will strength training decrease risk of injury and improve bone density and joint health, but it also can increase functional strength for better performance in daily activities as well as muscle mass and metabolic efficiency. The more muscle tissue you carry, the higher your resting metabolic rate.
Trouble is, it’s easy to make mistakes when you strength train, especially if you’re not doing it under a trainer’s guidance. Below, trainers identify 10 of these mistakes to help avoid injury and keep your fitness program on track.
Mistake No. 1: Using Weights That Are Too Heavy
Weights that are too heavy could injure you, which could defeat the purpose of exercising, especially if you have to take time off.
The fix: Lighten your load. Pick a weight that challenges you but doesn’t cause you to use improper form.
Mistake No. 2: Adding Weights Before You Have the Initial Movement Perfected
Think of a squat or lunge. Adding weights to these moves is a wise idea, but if you don’t have your form on these two exercises nailed down, you risk injury.
The fix: Before you add weights to any bodyweight movement, practice the move first. Once you’ve mastered that, add weights.
Mistake No. 3: Not Considering Modifications
Almost every move has an easier and harder version, and while your ego might tell you to go hard, if your body isn’t ready for that harder move, you could hurt yourself. Plus, by not making modifications, you may not ever know what it’s like to do the full movement.
The fix: Know that there’s no shame in modifying a move. In modified positions, you can learn the basics of the exercise. Once you get stronger or fitter, you can move to more advanced versions.
Mistake No. 4: Falling Victim to Unnecessary Distraction
Between counting reps, racing to 100 squats in spite of what the squat looks like or focusing on your smartwatch, it’s easy to get distracted. The problem? “This is often when form and technique break down,
The fix: Make sure you’re committed to executing every movement with proper form. you also might consider matching your strength training with intervals and time so you’re less focused on reps and more focused on moving well with proper form for a certain amount of time.
Mistake No. 5: Not Eating Enough to Support Your Strength Training
If you’re following a low-calorie diet (like 1,200 calories a day), your strength training will suffer. “Without enough calories, you’ll be hard-pressed to sustain the results you’re looking for,
The fix: Identify your total daily energy expenditure to understand how many calories your body needs.
Mistake No. 6: Using Weights That Are Too Light
Your body needs to be challenged to grow stronger, and if you’ve been stuck in a rut or you’re not seeing changes in strength or muscle definition, you may not be using heavy enough weights.
The fix: If you can do 15 to 20 reps easily, increase that weight. You’ll know you’ve hit the right weight for where you are now if you can do eight to 12 reps and could potentially do one or two more but are “feeling it” or fatigued at the end of a set.
Mistake No. 7: Doing Repetitions Too Quickly
Moving through strength exercises quickly, especially with heavy weights, can increase your risk for injury. Plus, if you move too quickly, you may not be recruiting and engaging the correct muscles or using the full range of motion, which will decrease the gains you’re hoping to make, Rowand explains.
The fix: Use slow and controlled movements by focusing on your breath. “Take a deep breath through the nose and exhale strongly as you explode out of the motion,” Rowand says.
Mistake No. 8: Skipping Your Rest Days
If you’re operating under the “more is better” mentality and skipping rest days, that’s a dangerous habit. “Many people incorrectly assume that muscle growth, personal records and weight loss (or whatever your goal) occurs during the act of exercise,” Funsten says. “On the contrary, strength training breaks down muscle tissue, and muscles repair and grow when they’re not expending intense bouts of energy.”
The fix: Take about two recovery days from strength training every week.