If you’re just starting a new fitness program that includes more weight bearing activities, you want to make sure you’re choosing the right set of weights and going at a pace that keeps your body healthy and strong. If you don’t start off slow, you run the risk of taxing your body too heavily and getting injured from overuse.
Plus, you also want to make sure you’re getting those coveted muscle gains from your hard work. If you’re not lifting properly, you might be preventing your muscles from repairing and strengthening, and you could be putting your health at risk, too. Here are a few common mistakes you might be making when first starting to strength train.
And a tip? If you feel lost in the weight room or want guidance from an expert, hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions can help you become familiar with weights and gain more confidence as you begin your program.
You Choose the Wrong Weights
The right set of weights matters, and you don’t want to start off with too light or too heavy of weights, as they can prevent you from training safely and with proper form. You don’t want to be falling over with a heavy set, where you could end up overusing muscles and hurting yourself. Similarly, you also don’t want too light of weights where you’re not really working the muscles and building strength effectively, either. If you’re not sure which weights are best, ask a trainer at the gym for help picking the right set based on your level.
You Go Up in Weights Too Fast
If you’re just thinking of the pounds rather than how they’re affecting your body’s strength and muscle mass, you might be increasing weight density too quickly, where you might end up hurting yourself. Instead, be patient and go by how your body feels and responds to the steady weight training routine.
If you start to hit a plateau, then it’s time to increase. Watch for signs of lack of progress, sets and reps feeling easy and not leaving you fatigued by the last, and the amount of time you’ve been working with the same set of weights for better judgment.
You’re Not Going Up When You Should
Likewise, if you’re hesitant to go up in weights out of fear or because it feels harder when you try, change that mindset and step up to the challenge. Going up in weights when your body is ready is an accomplishment and it sets you up for more success long-term. It might feel harder than you’ve been accustomed to, but the challenge will become easier in time too, just like it did for the previous set of weights.
You’re Using Bad Form
Form is everything, but sometimes people just want to get through the reps and sets even if form is starting to suffer. Bad form can make your body unbalanced and you may start compensating for different muscle groups and are more prone to injury and overuse.
Plus, bad form won’t help you get strong, lean and well-defined muscles, either, as it makes the exercise and effort you’re putting in less effective in creating positive change. And it can become a bad habit to break, so once you realize there’s bad form you must work on correcting it to avoid it becoming habitual.
You’re Not Eating to Fuel Muscles Afterwards
Protein and complex carbs are needed to build back and strengthen damaged muscles that were depleted of nutrients during training. If you are just starting to lift weights, your muscles need a good source of protein in particular, as well as electrolytes to replenish lost stores that were lost during sweat.
Without giving muscles fuel within an hour of finishing your training session, they won’t be able to recover and strengthen, so you’re compromising progress despite your efforts. Snack on a banana with nut butter or sip on a shake with chia seeds, nut butter and avocado right after.