Most Common Mistakes - Trying to follow complicated programs
Whilst it looks sexy to be doing some crazy, funky exercises, with the newest gimmick piece of kit, you’ll get the best results from the basics.
The plain, old, boring, tried and tested, fundamental exercises.
Yes, there’s room for some accessory movements.
Yes, activation exercises and structural rebalancing exercises are beneficial.
...but the nuts and bolts of your workouts, barring any injuries or specific reasons not to do an exercise, should be the big, compound exercises.
Squats, Deadlifts, Push-ups, Pull-ups, Lunges, Carries, Sled pushes and pulls etc.
Obviously this list isn’t extensive - there are literally thousands of exercises and variations of exercises that can be done, but if you hit these main lifts, you’re covering most of your bases.
Using 6 different machines to work your chest isn't necessary.
Performing your bicep curls on something wobbly, or using dumbbells, barbells, EZ-curl bars, preacher curls, cables, and a few biceps machines all to bend and straighten your arm is inefficient.
If someone sends you a training plan, if they know what they’re doing, chances are it’ll be the basic exercises programmed well.
If they’re sending you 16 different variations to work your shoulders, they’re trying to fill it out with “fluff” to make the program look fancy and advanced.
There are some great tools out there - machines, cables, kettlebells, clubbells… I could go on.
Just remember that whilst you can use any of these effectively, using ALL of them, or too many of them will likely prove less effective in the long run.
At least program them into phases, and ensure you have specific goals for each phase and that the exercises you’re using are suited to those goals.
Hitting your chest at every angle for a set each isn’t going to have the same effect as choosing one or two exercises and performing multiple sets. And 3 sets of 6 different chest exercises is overkill.
You’re not going to be able to do every exercise for every muscle group! Pick the ones you feel are the most important/effective (this could be different for everyone), and stick with them for as long as you’re making progress.
A program that changes too often will yield slower results than continual improvement in one program.
The truth is, the basic workouts don’t sell magazines. People like to see something new, because they’re always looking for something better, or quicker results.
The magazines know this.
Instagram and Youtube Trainers know this.
That’s why you’ll see more videos of people doing crazy shit, than a boring video of someone putting the work in on some squats. It’s not fun to watch. It’s not that fun to do.
People have always looked at the “different” stuff thinking it’s some more advanced way of training that will get them better results, but it’s not. It’s just bait for “likes” and views.
I’ve seen many PT’s using gimmick exercises with clients because either the Trainer is scared the client will go somewhere else if they just give them the basics, or because the client thinks they need to be doing the “functional” stuff they’ve seen on the internet (or maybe the Trainers think they need that too?!).
All training will come down to what you want to get out of it.
Doing exercises or following workouts that look impressive, but don’t move you towards your goals might be fun, but you have to be aware that they’re NOT what you need.
The average trainee, and even the athletes and bodybuilders, would benefit from working on the basics more. There’s no magic exercise or training plan, just well-programmed workouts and training cycles.
So, please stop chasing the next exciting exercise and the disruptive set and rep schemes - they have a place, but you’ll almost certainly be better off sticking to the basics.
If you want to try some of the other stuff to mix things up a bit, I recommend doing what I do - program a day into your training routine where you can play around a bit.
I have a few set workouts for the week, plus a “free day” where I can pick up the clubbells, get on the gymnastic rings, practice some skills, blast my abs, test myself with some timed workouts, or whatever takes my fancy that day.
But the 80/20 rule suggests that you’ll get 80% of your results from 20% of the exercises. So figure out what those 20% exercises are, and focus on them. Forget the rest - at least for now.
Pick fewer exercises.
Do them better.
Do them often.
When they stop being fun, choose different ones.
(because training should also be fun to some extent - just remember you’re there for results, not entertainment)