Mistakes are a part of life. They're how we learn, how we grow, and how we become the best versions of ourselves.
But when it comes to strength training, mistakes can set us back, cause injuries, and prevent us from achieving our goals. So, let's talk about the top four mistakes people make when they first start strength training, and more importantly, how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Skipping Muscle Groups
The first mistake people make is skipping muscle groups. In my experience, guys will typically focus on the muscle groups they can see in the mirror, like the chest, abs, and arms and will totally neglect legs. For women, it's almost the opposite - lots of lower body, glutes, and abs with a neglect of their upper body muscles.
In either case, neglecting any muscle group is a mistake because it creates strength imbalances in the body and can you set you up for future injuries. Remember, strong things are harder to break. So the stronger we are all around, the better!
How to avoid this mistake? Make sure to include exercises that target all muscle groups in your workout routine. This includes chest, back, legs, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. You don't need to spend an equal amount of time on each muscle group, but make sure to give them all some attention, hitting each group at least once per week.
Mistake #2: Cheating Your Form
The second mistake people make is cheating their form. This can happen when people use weights that are too heavy or when they try to rush through their exercises. Cheating your form puts unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles, leading to injury and decreased progress.
How to avoid this mistake? Focus on using proper form during every exercise, even if it means using lighter weights or taking some more time to rest between sets. Take the time to learn how to perform each exercise correctly. If you aren't at a place like Stoked Athletics where a coach is watching you, you can set up your phone to videotape yourself and watch it back to look for any errors.
Mistake #3: Changing Your Program Up Too Often
The third mistake people make is changing their program up too often. While it's important to switch up your routine every once in a while, doing it too often can hinder your progress. Your body needs time to adapt to a new routine and see results. Also, we must remember that strength is a SKILL that takes time. By changing the exercise selection too often, you'll be leaving a lot of gains on the table.
How to avoid this mistake? Stick to a program for at least four weeks before making any changes - and when you do, keep them small. This will give your body time to adjust and see results. If you do want to switch up your routine, make small changes, like changing the number of sets and reps you're doing, or adding in tempos/pauses, rather than changing the movements themselves.
Mistake #4: Starving Yourself to Lose Weight Quickly
The fourth mistake people make is starving themselves to lose weight quickly. While it's important to eat a healthy diet to support your fitness goals, extreme calorie restriction can actually harm your progress. When you don't eat enough, you'll tend to feel more fatigued and your body will move less by default. This drop in activity makes it harder to lose weight which can cause frustration, or worse, a binge-restrict cycle.
How to avoid this mistake? Focus on eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Don't cut your calories too drastically and aim for a slow and steady weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. For more information about Nutrition, you can start with this blog post.
And there you have it, folks. By avoiding these four common mistakes, you'll set yourself up for success in your strength training journey. Remember, progress takes time and consistency, so don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Keep pushing yourself, keep learning, and keep making gains. You got this!