1- Exercising too long
Try to keep your workouts under the hour. If you’re currently going way over the hour it could be because you’re doing too many exercises, or maybe your rest periods between sets is too long.
If you’ve got more than 6 movements in your workout routine, think about cutting down on volume. When you’re pruning your routine always remove isolation exercises first. If you have favourite exercises where you can really move a lot of weight, then hang onto those. Be reluctant to cut out movements like the dead lift, squat or bench press, these are your major muscle builders.
Important side note on volume – just imagine if your training consisted of one day doing the squat or dead lift only and one day doing just the bench press. I’d be willing to bet nobody reading this will try it, but if you did just those two movements for several months, building the weights up as you go, you’d really transform your body.
2- Not doing cardio work
Some folks shy away from cardio thinking it will cause overtraining, but this is really a myth. It’s an old cliché, but the most important muscle in your body is your heart. And cardio exercise is a great way to keep the old ticker in shape.
The other benefit of cardio exercise is that it makes the body more efficient at eliminating waste products, ie lactic acid, so doing cardio will help you to recover more quickly after the weights workout, and muscle soreness will go away sooner.
What type of cardio? Well it should be something that holds your interest, so that you stick at it. It should also not be bad for the joints, which is why I don’t recommend running. I favour a cross trainer, with an MP3 player so you can listen to Mozart, Metallica or whatever your choice is.
3- Not resting properly
Ideally aim to get eight hours sleep a night. This may not always be possible, but at least aim for it. Rest is when your muscles recover and grow, and if you’re training hard but not seeing much in the way of results, something as simple as adding half an hours sleep a night may be the x factor you’ve been missing.
4- Not eating enough
Most would-be bodybuilders don’t eat nearly enough quality food. Aim to get 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. It’s worth finding a way of tracking your body fat percentage, in case it starts to go up too high. Try to eat 5 or better still 6 small meals a day, which is a lot less trying on the gut than 3 huge feasts.
Invest in a decent calorie counter and build your calories up gradually so your body gets used to the extra food.
5- Not cycling routines
A weight training cycle is simply the number of weeks you’re doing your weight training routine. You may plan to workout for a certain number of weeks, for example 10, 12 or whatever. Each week you try and increase the weights you lift. In theory you keep doing this until you get to your limit where you can’t lift any more weight, or until you reach a target poundage in one or more exercises.
Then you have say one week off, then start another cycle of weight training, where you begin with lighter weights and gradually build up again. In an ideal world, at the end of each cycle you end up at new personal best levels in your lifts.
The point is that most of us cannot just lift heavier week after week after week. If you find you can lift more each week for say a whole year then good luck and go to it. Most of us find that shorter cycles work better. Splitting the year up this way helps keep enthusiasm levels up, because there will be days where you get home from the daily drudge and you just don’t feel like hitting the weights.
6- Thinking too much
A lot of amateur weight trainers get bogged down in too much theory, mostly I think from the terrible advice from the mainstream magazines.
– Stick to compound movements
– Perform them with immaculate form
– Build the weights up
– No more than three workouts per week, better still two.
Use this formula and watch your body respond!