Strength training is an important aspect of fitness that can help you build muscle, improve your posture, and increase your overall strength. However, there are common mistakes that people make when strength training that can lead to injury, overtraining, and slow progress. In this blog, we will discuss five common mistakes in strength training and provide some tips on how to avoid them.

How to Strength Train: 5 Mistakes

Strength training is an excellent way to gain muscle and burn fat. Be sure to exercise with the guidance of a personal trainer for the best results.

Mistake one: skipping the warm-up

Whether you are lifting heavy or light, or you are a beginner or advanced, a proper warm-up is essential to prevent injury and prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. This can include a passive warm-up like a warm shower, or a dynamic warm-up which can include stretches, mobility exercises, and light cardio to get your heart rate up.

Top tip: Never forget to warm up! This will prevent injury and prepare your body to build muscle.

Mistake two: locking out your joints

Locking out your joints means fully extending them to the point where they become full extended or even hyperextended. This can put excess strain on your joint structure and connective tissues, leading to injury. To avoid this mistake, focus on maintaining a slight bend in your joints throughout your strength training exercises. By doing so, you will engage your muscles more effectively and reduce the strain (and reduce the aging process) on your joints.

When performing exercises such as squats, and push-ups (even wall push-ups), always keep a slight bend in your knees and elbows. This will ensure that your muscles are doing the work rather than your joints. Additionally, focus on engaging the muscles around your joints will provide more long-lasting stability and support.

Keeping a slight bend in your knees and elbows lets your muscles do the work. Your joints will thank you!

Mistake three: doing too much

Doing too many reps or lifting too much weight in a single workout can lead to overtraining and injury. To avoid this mistake, focus on progressively overloading your strength training exercises. This means gradually increasing the weight or reps over time to challenge your muscles without overloading them. Using an exercise diary to plan (we can help you with this) and track what you do is one way to ensure you don’t go overboard.

In general, we recommend our clients start with a weight that is challenging but manageable for 15-20 reps. Once you can complete 20 reps with good form, increase the weight by a small amount (2.5-5lbs for example) and start over. The same goes for reps- once you can complete 15 reps with ease, add one more rep to the set. Another way to strengthen your muscles further is by pausing at the bottom of a rep. These gradual progressions will ensure that your muscles are challenged without being overloaded.

Hiring a personal trainer is the best way to ensure you don't overdo yourself with strength training.

Mistake four: overtraining

Not giving yourself enough time to recover in between workouts can lead to fatigue, injury, and slow progress. It is important to give your muscles time to rest and recover before challenging them again. Personal trainers will watch your output to ensure you avoid Overtraining Syndrome (OTS).

Incorporate lighter strength training days into your routine, where you focus on lightening the weight and/or doing fewer reps. Doing so will give your body a break, while still giving it the cue to become stronger. You can also choose to take a day off or try different forms of exercise. Choosing to go on a challenging hike, or taking a yoga class can give your muscles a break from the repetitive movements of strength training.

Incorporating some lighter strength training days in your routine will give your body time to recover.

Mistake five – neglecting to recover right

Proper recovery is just as important as the workout itself. This means getting enough sleep, eating a healthy well balanced and nutritious diet, staying hydrated, and listening to your body’s cues. For example, using an apple watch to track your HRV, or using your own senses to dial in if you feel tired or sore, take a rest day or do a lighter workout.

Tracking your heart rate or other metrics can help you know when you need more rest.

Final thoughts

By avoiding common mistakes and following a progressive strength training program, you can achieve your fitness goals safely and efficiently. Remember to focus on proper form, gradually increase the weight or reps over time, and give yourself adequate time to rest and recover. And as always with the help from us, you can ensure that you are exercising safely and effectively

We are here to help and are ready to hear more about your goals. From there we’ll team you up with a Nielsen Fitness personal trainer that’s right for you and create a program that is tailored to your specific goals and abilities, to ensure you are exercising safely and correctly. Contact us today to get started strength training – the smart way.

Personal Training Toronto
Nielsen Fitness in-home personal training.