Do you consider yourself an advanced exerciser? You’ve seen great progress, you’ve been training for many years, and as such, you might consider yourself a bit of an expert. If so, you may think that you’ve got everything figured out, which is often when small errors can start sneaking into your training.
It may be surprising to know that even advanced exercisers make mistakes now and then. Sometimes we just need to take a step back and really evaluate the approach and program we’re using to discover those mistakes. But once we know them, we can easily address the errors to continue making progress.
Let’s go over six workout sins that you may be making. Take a good, hard look at these, then reflect on your own behaviors to ensure they’re not a factor in your training practices.
1. Neglecting Form Checks
Ask yourself this: when was the last time you stopped and really assessed your form? Has it been a while?
It’s easy to just assume that if you aren’t in pain, you’re doing things correctly, but remember, bad habits can be built over time. While your form may not be completely off today, even slight errors in technique could find you sidelined a few months from now.
Every few months, designate a session as a technique workshop and film yourself performing your exercises – especially major compound lifts. Then, watch them back and honestly assess if there is room for improvement. Sometimes what you think you’re doing and what you’re actually doing are don’t match up. You might feel like your form is spot on, but seeing it may tell a totally different story.
2. Forgetting to Deload
Next, don’t forget to schedule deload periods in from time to time. A deload is a week or so where you back off the heavy weight and give your body some lighter work to do.
This is a great way to avoid having to take an entire break every so often by giving your CNS some rest and recovery. Many advanced trainees figure they can keep pushing because they’re more experienced.
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, stress on the body is still stress on the body. You can’t cope with that forever. Lighter weeks are a must to keep you feeling fresh and making progress.
A good sign you’ve been letting things go on too long without a deload period is failing to make strength progress. While it may seem counterintuitive to lift lighter weight when you aren’t gaining strength, try it for a week and see if you don’t come back stronger.
Following this “down time”, super-compensation will occur and you have the potential to make some of your best progress during this week of light lifting.
3. Letting Rest Periods Drag On
Another common error that even advanced exercisers make is letting rest periods drag on. Chances are, by this point, you’ve become a gym regular. You hit the gym five to six days a week and have made a good number of friends in the process.
How often are these friends chatting you up when you should be doing your sets? Asking for training advice or about your weekend plans during your rest breaks? Don’t let the gym become social hour! You need to get in, stay focused to get the work done and get out.
If you want to catch up with your gym buddies, meet them for a protein shake post-workout. Otherwise, you’re just essentially letting them steal your gym gains.
4. Relying on the ‘Tried and True’
When you find something that works, it would only make sense to stick with it, right? This is the thought process behind the next mistake that many advanced exercisers make. While it’s great to find what works, you can’t be afraid to branch out from time to time. This could include switching up exercises, your training split, or your set and rep ranges – there are numerous options you can alter to provide new stimulus to your body.
Many people are scared to do this. Since they’re already seeing results, why change a good thing?
The reason is that you might be able to see even better results if you do. Get over the fear of the unknown and mix it up from time to time. You never know what will become of it if you do.
5. Neglecting to Learn
Many advanced trainees stop learning once they feel like they’ve hit a point where they’re seeing good progress and ‘know how to do it’.
Never stop learning! There are always things that you can be working on whether it’s learning new exercises, learning mental techniques to make the exercises you are doing better, or even just learning about new advancements in equipment that may help you take your progress further.
Don’t let your ego prevent you from seeing better results – no one knows everything. Even the best of the best continue to learn and experiment. Learning should be an ongoing process throughout your lifting career if you hope to see ongoing results.
6. Forgoing Prehab Work
Finally, the last mistake you want to ensure you avoid as an advanced lifter is overlooking prehab work. Many lifters do this because they’re at the point in their career where they have a good level of strength built and think that their body is relatively injury proof.
Don’t fool yourself. The minute you get lazy with prehab work or stop doing proper warm-ups (even worse!), is the minute you’ll find yourself seriously injured and sidelined for weeks or even months to come.
Remember that you’re likely lifting more and more loads over time as you continue to gain strength, meaning the ligaments and tendons that connect your bones and muscles need to be even stronger than they were before. Keeping up your prehab work will help strengthen them. You don’t want them to be your weakest link.
It may help to view prehab work as a way of actually boosting your strength in your main lifts, as that will make you view it as an essential part of your workout routine.
And in reality, it is. By strengthening those ligaments and tendons, you’ll be able to progress to lift heavier loads when doing compound exercises – which will improve your strength and decrease your risk of injury. Each and every workout should always begin with a proper warm-up and in many cases, a few prehab sets as well.
As you go about your training over the next week or two, keep these mistakes in mind and honestly assess yourself. How many of them are you making? Do you see any changes you could be making in your current workout routine? The good news is that the solutions are easy to employ and don’t take a lot of time, allowing you to stay on track and make more progress.