Weight lifting or resistance training is an essential part of any fitness routine.
Lifting weights will not only help you build muscle, but also improve your metabolism, preserve bone health as you age, and provide countless other health benefits.
In order to reap these benefits, make sure you’re spending your time both in and out of the gym wisely, maximizing your effort.
Here are a few mistakes you may be making when it comes to lifting weights, and how to remedy them for optimal results.
5 Weight Lifting Mistakes You’re Probably Making
1. You’re Lifting Too Light
You may not realize it, but you “lift weights” every day when you carry a basket of laundry, pick up your purse or backpack (I know mine weighed at least 10lbs in high school), and perform daily life tasks.
When you head into the gym, you need to challenge your muscles. If the weight you choose in the gym isn’t heavy enough, your muscles will not grow.
So what does it mean to lift “heavy?” Choose a weight where the last 1-2 repetitions of your set are difficult to complete.
Whether you are performing sets of 6 or 12, the last few reps should be a real challenge.
Even if you are following the “light weight, high repetitions” mentality, the weight should still be challenging enough that those last few repetitions cause a bit of a struggle.
This struggle is the overload of effort that actually causes your muscles to grow.
However, you never want to lift so heavy that your form breaks down, which leads me to my next point.
2. You’re Lifting Too Heavy
Just as you don’t want to lift insignificantly light weight, you also never want to lift such a heavy weight that you cannot keep proper form.
Perfecting your form before adding more weight to an exercise is not only key in preventing injury, but also in getting the best results.
When your form breaks down from lifting too heavy, other muscles and body parts overcompensate for what the main muscles cannot do.
For instance, if your knees cave in while you’re squatting, it can indicate weak glutes.
Instead of adding weight to your squat while your knees continue to cave in (a form flaw), work on squatting with a lighter weight to strengthen your glutes and keep your knees in line with your toes.
3. You’re Neglecting the Little Things
The best part about lifting weights is well, lifting the weights. However, there are a few important steps of the weight lifting process that are often neglected when we’re in a rush to get to “the good stuff.”
Warming up properly before every weight lifting session is crucial for injury prevention.
When your muscles are “cold,” they are tight and thus prone to pulling more easily. In order to ensure a great workout, injury free, make sure to warm-up for at least 5 minutes before every workout.
A good warm-up will include stretching, foam rolling, and a dynamic warm-up to get blood flowing to your muscles.
Recovering and resting are also key steps in a long and healthy weight lifting career.
Taking a day or two off to allow your muscles to recover will actually help them to perform better each time you return to the gym.
Stretching and foam rolling aren’t limited to your warm-up only, they should be incorporated on rest days as well.
4. You’re Not Using The Mind-Muscle Connection
You’ve got e-mails to answer, a text message to reply to, dinner to cook, a call to make, and 800 other things on the to-do list.
But if you aren’t focusing on your muscles and your effort in the gym, you might as well not be there.
To learn more about the mind-muscle connection and why it is so important to weight lifting success, check out this article: 3 Tips to Master the Mind-Muscle Connection
5. You Don’t Have a Plan
Lifting the same weight every week for the same amount of sets and reps will eventually cause your progress to stall.
As your muscles get stronger, they need to be “overloaded” with more volume, either by adding weight, sets, or reps to your workout.
The best way to ensure your progress is to plan your progress.
If you squatted 50lbs for 4 sets of 10 reps last week, try to squat 60lbs for 4 sets of 10 this week.
If you did bicep curls with 10’s for 3 sets of 8 last week, try 3 sets of 12 this week.
Push yourself to lift more each time that you workout. Without increasing the intensity of your workout, you will never progress.
In order to see a change, you need to make a change!
Write down your workouts so that you know exactly how to progress each week. Then you can look back in a few months and see just how far you’ve come!