Top 3 strength training mistakes

After countless personal training sessions over the years we have noted 3 common mistakes which ruin results. They all stem from the same basic problem. The goal of strength training is not to see how much you can lift but rather to best stimulate all your muscles.

In sports you have skill based goals like how fast you can do something, how long you can endure something or how many goals you can accumulate but exercise is a totally different process. Proper strength training supports all your activity and sporting goals but isn’t in and of itself a sport.

If you treat weight lifting as a sport two things are a common result – first you injure and second your gains are minimal. You may get strong despite your training choices because of genetics but 90% of folks need proper exercise practice to maximize gains.


We aren’t exaggerating, we have lost track of how many times we have had someone come to our Ottawa personal training facility who have tons of background in Crossfit or something similar and inevitably they all demonstrate surprising weakness in basic moves like dips, proper chin ups (non ballistic) basic dumbbell lunges and overhead dumbbell shoulder press. This because everything they have practiced is done with the first and biggest weightlifting (for exercise) mistake:

1. Moving too fast. When you move weight fast you UNLOAD your muscles through momentum. This makes exercises easier not harder. Just compare 10 fast push ups to 10 very slow push ups for proof. Remember momentum in exercise is useless and counter productive.

The next wildly common mistake is training mainly your best traits rather than focusing on your weaknesses.

2. Working only what you are good at. The very point of strength training is to address your weaknesses if only for the sake of balanced body function. Stick to making 75% of every workout centered on your weakest muscle groups – the stuff you aren’t naturally good at! Go slow and you will be safe and overtime your abilities will equalize.

Finally a much less known problem but especially with first year types it is almost epidemic in the fitness world.

3. Strength training too often. When you are weightlifting you are trying to improve muscle function NOT see how much you can endure. How much strength training you can endure is not a function of strength or even stamina but of what you can become use to putting up with. Getting stronger isn’t like training for a marathon. Strength increases during recovery as your body rebuilds and protects itself from the stress by becoming stronger. Recovery doesn’t happen in the workout it happens during rest. Remember always – how much you exercise is not the issue but how well you exercise. This simple fact is usually the difference between people giving up and those who enjoy a fit life over the long-term.

Put these points in proper perspective and you will immediately be far ahead of the curve and well on the way to a stronger life.

Be well, be strong,

Andrew and Tierney



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