Tuesday, October 3, 2023

5 Lifting Mistakes I Regret Making

I have made quite a number of mistakes since I first began lifting weights seriously about 2 years ago. Today I'd like to share 5 of them with you. Actually, I was quite naive when I started this journey, so I made many mistakes I should not have made. Maybe you've made the same ones. I will use some pics I took during my workout today as illustrations.

In the first place, I failed to know and respect my body's limitations. I often pushed myself a lot harder than I probably should have. Since then I have dialed things back. I'm trying to remember that I have a 71-year old human frame and, while I should expect much from it, I can't expect everything from it that I would like. The ancient Greeks wisely said, "Know thyself." 

Secondly, when I first started lifting I failed to keep my shoulder blades back and my sternum forward while doing bench presses. This put tremendous pressure on my shoulder joints and once even led to a temporary shoulder injury. Since then I've learned to focus on ensuring that my shoulders are rolled back and down. If I fail to do this, then my front delts take on most of the work, not my pecs. By keeping my shoulder blades retracted, my shoulders and elbows aren't stressed as much. 

Thirdly, I have learned to maintain a high level of intensity while working out. It's not the amount of work you perform that is the primary driver of hypertrophy (muscle growth). You have to perform an exercise right up close to or beyond the existing capability of the muscle. Intensity, not volume or even amount of weight, is the ultimate baseline factor. You have to train hard while training smart. 

Fourthly, when I first started out, I had never heard of "muscle contraction." In order to build a muscle you have to contract that muscle. You can't just move a weight from one place to another. You must move the weight while mentally focusing on the targeted muscle as hard as you can. This slight adjustment (often called the "mind-muscle connection") can make a huge difference in the results you see in the long run.

Finally, I think I made the mistake of ignoring the eccentric (or lowering) phase of the exercise I was doing, particularly on pulling exercises. Since pulling exercises (like a biceps curl) involve the weight falling away from you, it's easy to forget about lowering it slowly. When you do that you are foregoing one of the greatest stimuli for muscle growth and gains. Even while doing a pull up I have learned to slow down the eccentric (lowering) portion of the exercise considerably.

I'm sure I've made other mistakes while lifting, but these are the 5 that come to mind as I type. If you simply take the time to think through what you are doing in the gym, it could truly make a significant difference to your muscle growth and strength gains. 

Happy training!