Trying to get stronger this year? Strength training is key. Whether you’re using free weights, body weights, bands, or machines, if done correctly you’ll build muscle and get stronger.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid on your strength training journey (and what to do instead to get your gains).
Mistake 1: Going too heavy, too fast. You do have to challenge yourself if you want to build muscle, but within reason. Going too heavy or too fast can lead to serious injuries and keep you out of the gym for a while. Start with lighter weights while you master your form, and progress to heavier weights once you know your form is solid.
Mistake 2: Skipping your rest days. There’s often an attitude of “more is better” when it comes to fitness—but this isn’t the case with strength training. When you lift weights and challenge yourself with resistance against your body, you cause small tears in your muscle fibers. When you rest, your muscles repair and grow back stronger. Skipping your rest days can interfere with this process and put a damper on your muscle growth.
Mistake 3: Lifting too light a weight (not implementing progressive overload). In order to get stronger, you have to challenge yourself: Your body will adapt to the resistance placed on it, and will get stronger over time. This process is called progressive overload. If your weight is too light, it won’t create enough stimulus to induce adaptation. Use a weight where you can do 10 to 12 reps with good form, and find it challenging at the end.
Mistake 4: Mixing up your workouts all the time. Your muscles need consistency and progressive overload to grow. If you’re constantly changing your workouts, you’re not giving your body the opportunity to adapt and get better at each routine. Aim to stick to a structured strength training plan for 4 to 6 weeks, and focus on increasing the weights you’re using over time before changing up the moves.
Mistake 5: Not eating enough to fuel your goals. You need enough protein and enough calories in your diet to build muscle tissue. If you eat too few calories or too little protein, your body may break down muscle tissue for energy—not what you want when you’re trying to build muscle. Aim to have a serving of protein at each meal and snack, and consider tracking your calories or macros to build awareness of how much you’re eating.
Strength training can be an excellent way to improve your health, stamina, and fitness levels—but it must be done intentionally and correctly to be effective. Pay attention to your form, eat enough, and make sure you have a structured plan that implements progressive overload for the best results.
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