As a high school strength and conditioning coach I have worked extensively with young, inexperienced lifters. Through my experience I have seen numerous young athletes and lifters make the same mistakes over and over again in the weight room. These mistakes slow their progress, produce meager results and potentially lead to injury. The following are five tips to emphasize to young and novice lifters and athletes to help them avoid injuries and set them on a path to improve strength gains and improve performance.
1. Build strength don't test it
The weight room is for building and improving strength. One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced lifters make is trying to max out and see how strong they are during their workout. Instead, trust that lower percentage weights and leaving some energy in the tank for the next workout will get you stronger.
Constantly maxing out does not allow for proper recovery and supercompensation to occur. As a result you will experience diminished results. Focus on setting and breaking rep records. Increases in strength using sub-maximal weights have been proven time and again. If your bench goes from 225x6 to 225x9 you have grown stronger.2. Less is more
Another common mistake beginners make is doing too much. They often do too many sets, too many reps or too many exercises. Instead, focus should be on the big multi-joint movements such as the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and hang or power cleans. These movements are the foundation of experienced lifters training. Learn how to perform these lifts correctly and don’t add too many assistance lifts. Stick to the big multi-joint movements, which are where all the gains are made. Make sure to focus on form and big weights will follow.
3. Slow cook it
Strength development isn’t an eight or twelve week pursuit. Gains from strength training are not seen overnight. They take hard work, consistency and time. Inexperienced lifters are in a hurry and want to make huge gains instantly. This is nothing more than ego. Check your ego; focus on consistent progress and getting those extra five pounds not fifty. If you bench press 225 pounds and your goal is 275, you have to bench 230 first.
4. Be a balanced lifter
Far in a way the biggest mistake I see in inexperience lifters is over emphasis of a particular lift. Often that lift is the bench press. Even though exercises, like the bench press, may be a good selection it is usually at the expense of training other important muscle groups. The upper back, hamstrings, abs and lower back usually are ignored.
The entire body must be trained. This does not mean do one exercise for each muscle but make yourself a complete and balanced lifter. Make sure to train the muscles that will improve performance and not just the muscles you can see in the mirror. Put training emphasis on hamstrings, lats, glutes, abs, and spinal erectors.
5. Prioritize rest & nutrition
Adequate rest and nutrition are the most neglected aspects of training. More often than not, when having a bad workout, lack of rest or poor nutrition is the culprit. You will not make great gains if you are tired and have not fueled your body properly. What you put in your body and what you do between workouts can positively or negatively affect you and your performance.
Nutrition provides the energy, fuel, and hydration that the body needs to perform. Recovery is central to improved performance and proper sleep is essential to recovery. Be sure to give your body time to repair itself during sleep. What you do between workouts can enhance or diminish your ability to recover. Focus on getting your diet and training in order and reap the benefits.
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