Starting up a new routine at the gym can be like traveling through a jungle. If you don’t know where your going, it can be easy to get lost. Thats why you need a map. In this case, your map is a program. It provides structure to your training, and guides you to your goals. Follow it, and you should reach your destination.
The problem is, some maps have mistakes. Just as some programs have mistakes. They can lead you down the wrong path and in some cases injury and diminished results. To be clear, there is no perfect program. But there are also some common programming pitfalls that people fall into. Here are some common programming error that you can avoid on your way to achieving your fitness goals.
1) Lack of Dynamic Warmup
We’ll start with the one that should be the first thing you do before you ever touch a weight. I you’ve read my previous blog post on the subject, than you already know how how I feel. Too many times I have seen people walk right into the gym, put 135 on a bench. and start pressing. Definitely not the way you want to jump into your workout.
A dynamic warmup is a series of movements that should properly prepare you for the demands of the tasks you will perform. Basically, prep your body for what your going to do. The benefits include decrease risk of injury, increased flexibility, and increased performance. Walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes isn’t enough. Skipping the dynamic warmup will ultimately limit what your capable of.
Tip: Spend the first 5-10 minutes of your workout on your warm-up. Here’s a list of easy ones you can do.
2) Not Enough Compound Movements
The benefits of compound movements are many. (I go into more in depth explanation of compound movements in a previous post). Despite that, many people still base their workouts on Isolating body parts. Such as the classic Bi’s and Tri’s split. There are several problems with this style of workouts. The most practical of which is, it simply doesn’t fit the time constraints of most gym goers.
In addition, isolated movements are less efficient for burning calories and gaining lean mean mass. In a world where our time and attention is limited, we need to the exercises that give us the best results, the fastest. Focus your training on learning the basic human movements (pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging, etc) and base the rest of your program off of that.
Tip: Break your exercises up into movements instead of body parts. Instead of and exercise for chest, do a “push” exercise. Ex: Push ups, Bench Press
3) Neglecting Mobility
How many of you actually dedicate time to mobility exercises during your workouts?..I’m going to guess not very many. I get it, mobility isn’t sexy. You can’t look into the mirror and stare at how mobile you are. But mobility is extremely important to any sustainable program.
As we lift weights, we get stronger, and we create more mass. But one of the byproducts of this, is that we often become more “stiff” and less mobile. This is especially true as people get older. A decrease in mobility can lead to increased risk of injury, and a decrease in performance with such lifts as squats, and deadlifts. Mobility isn’t always fun, but it’s something that we should make time for every time we hit the gym.
Tip: Try these t-spine mobility drills before your next upper body workout.
4) Not Starting With The BIG lifts
This one is probably one of the more dangerous mistakes you can make in the gym. Its not just about WHAT you do at the gym, its about WHEN you do it. You should be programming your workouts to start with your “Big lifts”.
Now when I say big lifts, I am referring to any of the following:
- Any Olympic lift variation or Power movement
These lifts are some of the most metabolically demanding exercises you can do, and should be performed earlier in the workout rather than later. In addition, because of the amount of weight used for these lifts, they are also inherently more risky than other lifts. As you get tired, your form is more likely to break down. So when done near the end of a workout, the likelihood of injury doing lifts goes WAYYY up.
From a strength standpoint, performing your big lifts later, will decrease the amount of weight you can lift. If your goal is to increase your deadlift, then make it a priority and get it done early.
Tip: If you want to use one of these lifts as a “finisher”, keep the weight light, or even use body weight. For example, end your workout w/ body weight squats for 3 x 20.
Programming for fitness isn’t easy. It takes time, intuition, and practice. Experienced trainers such as myself, still make mistakes. But if you can avoid the 4 mistakes we just covered, then you will be one step closer to your destination.