7 Workout Mistakes You’re Likely Making If Trying To Gain Strength

Holy moly, have I had some awesome workouts so far this week! And boy is my body tired! Aside from a morning run, today is a rest day! The run serving no other purpose than to shake my legs out!

Last year I focused a lot on my arms but let my legs rest a bit.

This year, I’ve kicked off “Project Legs-n-Booty” in an effort to shape up my lower half. And boy, my legs are having a serious love-hate relationship with me right now. I’m not worried, they’ll love me when Project Legs-n-Booty comes to an end and goals are accomplished!

Split-squat

I’ll share my workouts from the week down below, but first, I am keeping the whole strength talk trend rolling by addressing the most common issues I see as a trainer on a day to day basis when I walk into the gym and take a look around (remember, I love people watching).

Now you likely know that I don’t do much “traditional” strength training. Not because I don’t like it, but because with my training schedule of trail races, hikes, and obstacle course races this year, my focus is geared towards workouts that support them.

But it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten how to train others for pure strength!

Top Workout Mistakes Made When Trying To Gain Strength

7-tips-strengthtraining

  1. Not enough weight.When you lift a weight, how heavy do you go? How many reps are you capable of performing with that weight? I’m not asking how many reps you’re doing, but how many you can do. If the answer is more than 6-7, then you’re lifting too light. You might build some muscle (hypertrophy) and you might add some muscle endurance, but you’re not adding strength.My kettlebell hero, Pavel Tsatsouline, has mastered strength training and is the man responsible for brining my beloved kettlebell to the USA. Not that that is important for this point, but the man knows his stuff. He recommends for strength focused workouts to keep the weight high so that you’re able to accomplish 5 reps with good form. When form breaks that means stop. If you can do more than 5 perfect reps… add weight.
  2. Not enough rest.Of course lifting so much weight is going to be taxing. You’re going to lose a lot of creatine-phosphate (the fuel in your muscles) and it takes roughly 3 minutes to get more in there. For endurance, you want short rests… but with more intensity (weight), you’re going to take longer recovery breaks.That means rests breaks can last up to 5 minutes, but most of the time 3-4 minutes is sufficient. Does that mean that you have to rest between every exercise? Depends on the format of workout you do. If you’re doing a MET CON, then that rest will be at the end of the circuit. If doing traditional weight training, then yes, between each move (or super set), rest.
  3. Not enough upgrades.You get stronger by challenging your muscles. If you’ve been using the same weight every workout, you’re not challenging them to the max, right? If that means only doing one set with a heavier weight before moving back down, that’s okay. The goal is to force your muscles to get stronger, put stress and tension on them that they are not used to. This forces them to adapt and build stronger fibers.
  4. Not enough sets.Three sets. That’s become the norm for most workouts, right? In fact, 3 sets of 10-12 reps is what I hear most often around the gym floor. But when it comes to adding strength, real strength, it’s time to add more. Five is the common strength set range to go for! You can do it!
  5. Not enough exercises.I don’t mean in a single workout (in fact you can have an amazing workout with just 2-3 exercises). I mean over time, not changing up the exercises. Every 4 weeks or so, change up the moves to hit muscles in different directions and challenge the in new ways.Beat the plateau and keep the workouts exciting. Doing the same moves is boring. There is more to a workout than squats and deadlifts.
  6. Thinking you have to do split days.Body builders and fitness competitors have to do split routines. They’re working on creating a specific look that most of us aren’t. And because of that we don’t need to do split workouts… you know, one day legs, another back and biceps. I haven’t done a split workout in years. Really.Why? Because why do a split routine where you only get to workout each part of your body probably just 1x per week when I can do more exciting FULL BODY workouts 3x/week? You’re still getting at least a full day of rest between training but you’re able to hit those muscles more frequently. I would much rather do it this way and enjoy my workouts more than spend a single day working on just my butt and hamstring.Plus you’ll burn more calories!
  7. Not incorporating stretching and mobility training.As you get stronger, muscles often feel tighter. It’s easy to neglect warm-ups and cool-downs but healthy mobility is important for safe and efficient strength training. You’ll decrease your risk of injury, help recovery and feel better overall. Foam rolling, active warm-ups, and bodyweight cool-down moves are awesome. Don’t skip!

Do you ever focus on pure strength workouts? I would love to hear your thoughts…

Is their a mistake you make? What’s your current training goal right now?

Oh yea… my workouts!

Sunday: Rest Day (I was SO sore from 100 pull-ups the day before!)
Monday: This Kettlebell/Barbell Workout along with 6 70 M sprints.
Tuesday: Boot Camp
Wednesday: Stadium Workout

Comments:

  • Oui In France

    Hi there, really enjoyed this post. I am going to add weight the next time I’m in the weight room and add a set to switch things up. I’ve fallen into the 3 sets for 10 reps trap and I think I need to sock my muscles a bit. Also, it seems like sometimes people don’t really eat enough to build strength. I’ll see what I ate Wednesday posts from other HLB and sometimes it seems like the calorie count barely hits 1000 for the day — and these are people who are pretty active. I’m not a dietician or anything but I might add “not enough food” to your list. Especially if no strength gains are being made;-)

    • Very true about the food! But for muscle building, food is essential but pure strength not as much. It is possible to build strength without building muscle mass. Weird, I know. I love that “sock my muscles!” awesome.

      • Oui In France

        Oh man, totally didn’t notice my typo there. That was SHOCK lol

  • My main training goal is strength so this post is pretty much the rule book of most of my workouts. I’m great at everything but #7, got to get back on the foam roller!

  • Misszippy

    I’d add in not using the right form. I know my PT has drilled this into me for all of my stability work. Just being a little off can lead to lower results. But YES to mobility work and it’s importance as we age, especially for runners.

    • For sure! Great one. I see that all the time! ugh, bad form makes me cringe.

  • Rebecca P.

    Ah this is good! I never understood why people did split-days. It doesn’t make sense. How could you possibly build strength that way?
    I know I need to work on going heavier. I do a lot of reps and sets, but I need to change that and just lift heavier.

    • Haha, right there with you! So boring too! Definitely try to challenge yourself a bit more soon.

  • Kim

    It has been awhile since I focused on serious strength work. I try to always do some but I haven’t done anything hardcore in awhile. I’m not great about stretching either – working on it!!

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  • Katie Mitchell

    Every time I do upper body exercises, I get headaches. Even if I use light weights. Should I even lift weights then? Can’t figure out what I am doing wrong.

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