Here’s what you are doing wrong in the Gym or at your Workouts!
Let’s talk training, today.
More specifically… let’s go over the top 10 things I see done WRONG inside the average person’s training routine (I guarantee you’re doing at least one of these things): At one point I was doing almost all of them- ekk!
1.) TOO MUCH VARIETY (Hey I use to train this way so don’t be offended..)
This is not a shot at CrossFit or HIIT or what many of the franchises out there offer and do on a repeated basis, but it’s the biggest offender of this first rule of thumb. The problem is that the sport of CrossFit does require a lot of variety, so training with that much variety makes sense in order to get good at CrossFit. Same thing with Orangetheory, Beachbody and F45 they are all about the points and burning more calories when in reality you actually burn more from Strength training with some High intensity bursts- it just doesn’t show up on your apple watch or fitbit as you burn at an accelerated rate the rest of the day.
Same goes for HIIT training you need to train High Intensity or circuits to get good at it. BUT is that really your goal to be good at HIIT, Orange Theory or F45 or even Barre for that matter? If it is then awesome you are on your way…and do they work.. Heck yes at least initially you are burning calories after all- especially those that have been a couch potato the past few years…
But what I run into is a lot of people using these things to lose weight, to get stronger or change their physiques. Some CF’s have good strength cycles blended in, so at times that can happen, if you haven’t been moving of course you will lose some weight and fat with any fitness program…they all work to a certain degree and hey if you love it there is that bonus too.
Every fitness program ‘works’.
Circuit Training works.
HIIT Training works.
Body Building works.
Body Weight only works too.
Heck, even Orange Theory works.
It all works if before you weren’t consistently performing a resistance training program but now you are.
It is your new-found consistency that is the ‘secret sauce’ in all of these methods.
Just like a diet works when you first start it because you are almost always restricting calories or consuming less calories but hit plateau as well because our bodies ADAPT!
If you are showing up consistently two or three times a week with any form of progressive resistance training then your strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness will improve.
But there is a catch. If you stick to only one method then you will hit the dreaded plateau. It could be in three weeks, 3 months, one year or even two.
The only way to avoid a plateau is to be able to answer the question ‘what next?’.
But changes are going to be much better in a functional strength training program, because there is LESS variety. You have time to get better at movements and progress. Progression IS the key to physical adaptation, but you cannot progress if you do not repeat or have progression overload ( lift heavy $hit or what atleast the amount your body lets you safely).
2.) NOT ENOUGH VARIETY-On the flip side of too much variety- NOT enough…
On the other side, I see people going to the gym and doing the same thing… day after day, week after week, month after month, and for some people even year after year.
Your body needs novelty, too. So you can’t do the same thing for too long. The sweet spot tends to be between 3-6 weeks, in my experience. Enough time to master a movement and progress with load or volume, but not too much where you run out of steam or psychologically get bored of the program (which will tank motivation and effort). Plus go ahead and feel free to add variety to a few similar movement pattern here and there over the course of the 3-6 weeks.
3.) CHOOSING MUSCLE GROUPS OVER MOVEMENT PATTERNS.
If you program by muscle groups, you’re more likely to have poor posture and bad program sequencing. But when we consider the human bodies alignment, stature, mechanics, and movement capacity… we improve joint health, posture, and athleticism.
So stop thinking chest, arms, back….
Start thinking push, pull, hinge, squat, rotation, carry…
Can you still think “shoulders” and hit some lateral raises? Of course. But after your priority boxes are checked off.
Think you have too bad of knees to perform a lunge? Think again there are a bunch of modifications I have successfully been able to add to clients programs to get them to perform a lunge.
Most people need to Pull more than Push as well as master the HINGE- get those glutes to FIRE BABY..you would be surprised at how many especially older clients do not know how to engage their BOOTY!
4.) ZERO PERIODIZATION- THIS IS THE MAIN REASON WE SWITCH OUR FITNESS MODEL TO MORE SMALL GROUP PERSONAL TRAINING along with #6.
Failing to have a plan, is planning to fail. Cheesy old quote, but damn is it true.
Periodization is simply a methodical way to structure your training over the week, month and year. But even if you just have it in place for the week and ideally 1-3 months, you’re doing better than most.
You need to know what’s coming and how you’re progressively improving your exercises, strength, and abilities. If you don’t, you simply will not progress.
It’s REAL TOUGH TO up your weights in classes when you don’t know how long the intervals will be or if you are doing a circuit to actually get in a heavy enough weight if the person before you could only lift 20 pounds and you had to add 40 which took the entire interval to get changed and you missed that exercise completely…Not to mention this leads back to Form #5 and Range of motion(see #8 below)
On the flip side… are you doing too much cardio- hey if you are training for a marathon then you have to run I get that BUT you don’t have to do as much cardio as everyone thinks…I hate it and would rather lift some heavier weights and then do some burpees than run..but when a program has you running, rowing and then doing some TRX or light weights you WILL HIT a plateau.
5.) HORRIBLE FORM OR STARTING OFF TOO HEAVY WITHOUT PROPERLY MASTERING THE MOVE WITHOUT LOAD- come on guys you know I am talking to you!!
Training is a skill. Squatting, hip hinging, pressing… all skills that need to be developed before true overload can happen. Yet so many people skip the practice of the movements and jump right into increasing intensity, volume, etc…
If you can’t do it right, you won’t do it for long.
Find programming that shows you the movements done well, so you can mimic and master them, too.
FUNCTIONAL AGING INSTITUTE (which is one of my certifications breaks down being able to perform squats, hinges, lunges pushes and pulls for almost anyone and where they are currently starting from- we have modifications for all levels so if you think you can’t do because you couldn’t find a youtube video or a trainer couldn’t think of a modification- think again its what I specialize in- Corrective Exercise and Active Aging there is a modification for almost everything!
Calling out circuit training & Barre here… sorry/not sorry. Hey I use to ONLY train this way and recently changed our business model to Tailored Strength Sessions (small group personal training) with circuit, Barre and metabolic conditioning still offered just not as frequently. We still have Barre and Mobility for our active recovery days and Circuits/ Metabolic Conditioning for our conditioning days in between our Strength days.
This can work to lose weight, at first. And if this is what gets you moving at all, then I’m all about it – honestly. I think that’s the biggest key, really. So if you love Barre or Yoga- keep doing those things just incorporate at least 2 preferably 3 days of lifting something heavier (see below as to why).
However, at some point your results will plateau because training in a circuit fashion with lighter weights and short rest intervals, just so you can get your HR up and sweat a bunch, doesn’t allow progression to happen. In order to build strength, you need to add load or reps to your training. You can’t do that if you’re taking short rest periods that don’t allow full recovery to happen.
This is why when we get people coming to us from circuit only style programs, they see an insane change in their physiques pretty damn quickly. We put them on a progressive strength plan and pair that with proper nutrition – the transformation starts immediately and always provides the most impressive results.
To piggy-back off the last one, going into a group setting takes away the individuality inside training. Your goals may not be the same as the other 10 people in the group so why train the same?
Not everyone is the same and that means not everyone should be doing the exact same program.
Can some individuals run the same things? Absolutely. Many people are similar and can easily get away with that.
But 15-30 people doing the same thing? In the same class? Multiplied by 5-10 because the class happens all day at different times?
I just can’t see how that’s going to create the best results for one individual.
Programming is an art and there are SO many different ways to approach it, therefore as an individual you should aim to explore what works for you personally and progress within THAT. Not within what the local class is doing.
[P.S. there are some functional fitness centers who run group programs that allow individualization to occur, but it’s rare]
8.) INCOMPLETE RANGE OF MOTION.
Taking a movement through a full range of motion leads to the best result possible from a single rep (multiple that by all the reps you do and the overall result achieved is changed dramatically).
Partial squats, partial push ups… they can have their place, especially if it’s a 1.5 squat or something. But for the most part, science shows that a full range of motion wins. It takes your body through each cycle of a contraction and allows muscles to do their entire job. So why would we limit that?
Learn the movement. Practice the movement. Improve your range of motion with the movement. THEN add weight to the movement- this piggybacks HORRIBLE FORM too.)
9.) USING ONLY ONE ENERGY SYSTEM.
I see people doing strength training and HIIT intervals… great, both work really well. However they’re both using the anaerobic energy system for the most part.
What about oxidative and aerobic work? Which arguably has more benefit to our health and recovery ability. Which will also arguably translate over even more to our strength training.
Point being, don’t stick to one single intensity. Use different types of training with different types of intensities, throughout the week. And for that matter, the same thing applies to your reps throughout the week – they should vary across the 5-20 spectrum (sometimes in the 1-3).
10.) JUST DOING SOMEONE ELSE’S PROGRAM OR THE EXACT SAME PROGRAM AS YOUR TRAINING PARTNER
Do I need to go into this one?
I guess my question is this… why not choose your own plan? Or if you really want to do something with someone else, mutually decide which to do?
But seeing what your favorite bodybuilder or fitness model does online, isn’t the best route to take (or the dude down the street who seems jacked). Also, it’s not likely what they ACTUALLY do and definitely isn’t what they did when they were in your position.
Having a workout buddy is great. There is nothing better than having a friend who helps keep you accountable and motivated to get to the gym. The mistake comes when you do the exact same workout as that friend. Unless you are both the same age and physical condition, with the same goals, your best workout is going to vary from theirs.
What’s a goal-oriented fitness enthusiast to do to make sure that they are getting the best workout they can? Ideally, hiring a personal trainer to design your workout program will ensure that you are doing the right things at the gym. Even a session or two will help get you started. They can check your form, make sure you are doing the exercise correctly, and create a plan that will help you achieve your goals.
Find your own program, that’s catered to your own goals.
Alright, all that being said… you know I have to leave you with a little pitch…
Join us for Personal training or Tailored Strength sessions.
Smarter programming, better results, period.