Fitness expert Ronald Abvajee offers advice on some of the workout mistakes many of us could be making. He outlines six things to be on the lookout for during exercise sessions:
Too much cardio
Adding extensive cardio to an already demanding resistance-training programme can cause overtraining. If your goal is to maximise muscle gain, keep cardio at moderate levels. A general guideline is to limit steady-state cardio to no more than about three or four weekly bouts lasting 30 to 40 minutes.
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Training to failure with every set
It doesn’t make sense to take your first set of any exercise to failure (repeating an exercise to the point of inadequate muscle capacity). Your muscle strength will be diminished if you spend all your energy capital at the start of each set, which is why you should save failure for the final sets of an exercise. By training to failure during the last set – and only the last set – of an exercise, you give yourself the best chance for growth.
Doing the same exercises every day
Changing up your selection of exercises has a couple of important benefits from a mass-building standpoint. It helps to prevent the so-called “plateau effect”, whereby muscles become accustomed to the continual use of the same movements, making them increasingly resistant to trauma and growth. Broadening your range of exercises (which can be accomplished by switching around modalities, training angles, planes of movement, and even your hand and foot spacing) provides your muscles with the variety it needs for optimal growth.
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Using light weights with too many reps
Doing eight to 12 reps – the numbers so many of us have come to associate with proper weight training – is an aerobic exercise that builds mostly endurance. To gain strength and push your body hard enough to burn fat, you need to lift heavier weights and perform fewer reps.
Avoiding the things you’re bad at
Can’t do pull-ups? Don’t avoid them as that could cause body asymmetry which could lead to injury.
Not only is it hard to motivate yourself to train alone and push yourself during workouts, it’s also dangerous to lift heavy weights without a spotter.