You put in a lot of work in the gym, but weight lifting involves more than just grabbing a weight and lifting it. If you aren’t getting the desired results from your training, note whether the following habits sound familiar.
1. A lack of mobility
Are you building strength on top of dysfunction? Our increasingly sedentary lives are limiting our ankle, hip & thoracic mobility which affect our range of motion and loading patterns during exercise. A poor range of motion has an impact on the ability to effectively stretch and contract muscles, and is a recipe for both acute and chronic injuries. Consider beginning your workouts with 5-10 minutes of a mobility routine. Consistency here will pay dividends in future with your training as well as daily activities.
2. Overestimating your strength
Lifting heavy might be great for the ego, but are you getting the most out of every rep? If a weight is too heavy, you will need to recruit muscles which aren’t intended for the exercise, move through a shorter range of motion, or complete the set with a shorter time under muscle tension. These sins will reduce the benefit of the exercise. Use a weight that allows you to perform the movement with the correct technique.
3. Not knowing when to train to failure
Studies show that training your muscles to failure will increase protein synthesis so it is a requirement if you want your muscles to grow and change the shape of your body. However, training to failure on every set will affect the number of reps you can complete on subsequent sets and the total weight you can lift each session. Keep this in mind and save failure for the last sets of an exercise.
4. Workouts are very familiar
Consistency with regard to coming to the gym is great, but consistency of weights used, and sets and reps completed can slow down progress. To change the shape of your body, you need to make your muscles work harder than they are used to. The concept that underpins this is progressive overload. So if you’ve been lifting the same weight on an exercise at 3 sets of 10 for a while, it is time to vary this combination to stimulate your muscles.
5. Too much cardio
Cardio is good for your cardiovascular health and a handy tool for working through stubborn areas of body fat, but as a cyclist, I’m proof that ‘too much’ cardio will limit muscle growth! Engaging in too many or long cardio sessions requires energy in the form of calories – energy your muscles need to grow. Furthermore, long exercise sessions of any kind will significantly raise the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which has a negative effect on muscle building and fat loss. If muscle building is your goal, you should keep your exercise sessions between 30 – 60 minutes in duration. 6. Not making recovery a priority
Although not necessarily something you do in the gym, recovery from exercise is essential to realise all the benefits of your training efforts. Training provides the stimulus for change, but adaptations occur outside of the gym. It is important to sleep, schedule adequate rest between exercise sessions, be aware of posture throughout the day, and ensure your nutrition are all contributing to your muscle building goals.