“Common workout mistakes” has always been a very popular topic in
fitness publications. But no matter how many times this subject is
re-hashed, you almost always hear about the same half a dozen or so
mistakes, including poor form, overtraining, going too heavy, not
stretching, not warming up, yadda, yadda yadda. Ironically, you seldom
hear about the biggest mistakes of all. I call these humongous bloopers
“bonehead mistakes” because once you start to analyze and think about
them, it’s really just common sense and it all seems so obvious??? except
of course to the person doing it, who is often quite oblivious until
someone else points it out to them… then the light goes on and it’s
like… “Doh!”

Before I begin the countdown, (in no particular
order), there’s one more gripe I have about the treatment this subject
has been given in the past: Most of the attention has been put on the
mistakes, but very little on the solutions. It???s all too easy to point
fingers and say, ???Don???t do that??? and ???Shame on you, dummy??? but only 1%
of your time should be spent on problems. 99% should be spent on
solutions. So in that spirit, after I bring each mistake to your
attention, I???ll give you a solution-oriented training tip to help you
avoid boneheadedness and join the elite group who ???kick butt??? in the
gym at every workout???

Bonehead workout mistake #1: “Winging it”

“Winging
it” means having no written goals or plans, no training journal and no
way of keeping score It’s when you just show up at the gym day after
day and do whatever strikes your fancy, whatever machine happens to be
available, or whatever you’ve become habitually accustomed to doing.
Winging it is when you don’t know where you are, where you’re going or
how you’re going to get there – but you start your journey anyway no
compass, no roadmap. It’s been said that Action without planning is
the biggest cause of failure, and I believe that statement is 100%
accurate.

Kick butt workout tip #1: Develop a strategic plan

Successful
people never wing it they always have a plan. Strategic planning is
a never ending process and includes: Assessment (where am I now?), goal
setting (where do I want to go?), creating a plan or strategy (How will
I get where I want to go?), executing the plan (what action steps must
I take daily to reach my goal?), and measuring results (how will I know
if I’m moving towards my goal and how will I know when I???ve reached
it?). Boneheads wing it Butt-kickers have a master plan and goals
for every workout.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #2: Repeating the same workouts without progressive overload

In
one respect, repeating the same workouts is important – it’s called
continuity. Continuity means that to experience an adaptive response
(more muscle, more strength, less fat and all that other good stuff),
you must repeat a certain modality or exercise consistently over a long
enough period of time to allow the adaptive response to occur and to
reap the full benefits (rather than changing exercises at every
workout). That type of repetition is good. The bonehead mistake is when
you do the same exercises, same reps, same weight, same everything,
week after week, without ever challenging yourself to do more than
you’ve done before. If your muscles could talk they would say, Yawn
Did that, done that, been there we’re just going to stay exactly the
way we are no need to get bigger or stronger today

Kick butt workout tip #2: Strive to beat your previous workouts

Muscle
growth and strength increases occur when you place demands on your body
above and beyond what it has experienced in the past. Your body
responds to this progressive overload by getting stronger in order to
handle this type of demand in the future. Your objective at almost
every workout is to set goals to beat what you did during the previous
one. If you can’t add more weight, it could be as simple as one more
rep with the same weight or the same sets/reps/weight in less time. It
could also mean one more minute of cardio, one level higher on a
stairclimber, or half a percent steeper incline on the treadmill.
Continuous and never-ending improvement is the name of the game.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #3: Starving yourself

A
calorie deficit is the only way to lose body fat. However, the caloric
deficit must be kept small. When calories are cut too much, or held too
low for too long, your body thinks you are starving and sets into
motion a series of metabolic and hormonal events, which ultimately
result in muscle loss, slow metabolism and plateaus. Your body is like
a power plant or furnace and when you don???t feed the fire, your
metabolic flame dwindles to a flicker, producing less heat and less
energy. That’s why not eating enough is one of the biggest mistakes of
all. As Charlie Remington likes to say, ???Food is not your problem, food
is your solution???

Kick butt workout tip #3: Eat more, burn more

Did
it ever occur to you that if you exercise more you can eat more? And
that this is a more effective fat loss strategy than eating less and
exercising less? To lose body fat, you must create a calorie deficit. A
deficit can be created by exercising more, eating less, or ideally,
with a combination of both. The best combination of all is a small
decrease in calories accompanied by a large increase in activity. Think
about it: Decreasing calories slows your metabolism. Increasing
calories increases your metabolism. Exercise increases your metabolism.
Therefore, eat more, exercise more = double increase in metabolism. Eat
less, don’t exercise = double decrease in metabolism. Yes, starving is
for boneheads.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #4: Skipping scheduled workouts

A
great body doesn???t happen overnight. Successful body transformation is
the cumulative result of dozens or even hundreds of successful
workouts. Each workout brings you one small step closer to your goal.
Each workout missed takes you one small step backwards. Most people
underestimate the cumulative effect of each small step. They figure
that It just doesn’t matter it’s only one workout. If you don’t
think that one little workout matters, then think about the humble
termite; they’re such itty bitty little creatures and they take such
itty bitty little bites, yet when enough little bites are taken, an
entire building can come crumbling down.

Kick butt workout tip #4: Be disciplined and consistent

Not
only do you slip backwards physically when you skip even one scheduled
workout, perhaps more devastating is the effect on your mind and
character. Every time you successfully complete a scheduled workout,
you build your discipline and self esteem. When your self esteem
increases, it makes you feel good and that stimulates a positive
self-reinforcing cycle of even more discipline, confidence and action.
Everything you do helps or hurts. Every workout counts. Treat your word
as law. When you say you???re going to work out… WORK OUT!

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #5: Focusing on strengths, favorite exercises and favorite body parts, neglecting weaknesses

Most
people have a favorite body part or exercise. But playing favorites in
your training can lead to big problems. An unbalanced, asymmetrical
physique is one of them, but having a great upper body with toothpick
legs is the least of your worries. Strengthening and stretching some
muscle groups but not others is a great way to cause poor posture,
muscular imbalance, dysfunction, strains, pulls, tears or ruptures.

Kick butt workout tip #5: Train for functional balance and aesthetic balance

Non-boneheads
train every muscle group for symmetrical, visually pleasing
development. However, balance is more than cosmetic. Everyone –
athletes, bodybuilders, and recreational exercisers – must also train
for functional balance to prevent injury and maintain optimal function
and range of movement in every joint and muscle group. Every plane of
movement and angle of movement must be trained. Flexors must be
balanced with extensors. Front to back movements must be balanced with
rotational and side to side movements. Prime movers, antagonists and
stabilizers must all be strengthened. Always stretch, strengthen and
build to the point of total body balance.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #6: Using mostly machines and single joint/isolation exercises

So
you joined the gym and you hit the circuit you know, that section in
the gym with all those fancy, chrome-plated, technologically advanced
weight stack-pulley, hydraulic or computerized machines all lined up in
neat rows far, far away from the barbells and squat racks (which you
never touch), and which is designed to give you an easy, safe,
injury-free, effective full-body workout The machines may be easy,
but most machines aren???t as safe or effective as they???re cracked up to
be.

Kick butt workout tip #6: Use mostly free weights and compound, multi joint exercises

For
lower body, squat and lunge variations are tops. For upper body,
barbell and dumbbell presses, chin ups and rows are king. These and
similar BIG exercises stimulate more muscle fiber, stir up more fat
burning and muscle building hormones, and have more carry-over to real
world and sporting activities than machines. Although weight stack
machines are safe with respect to the fact that you cant drop a barbell
on your head, they???re ultimately NOT as safe as free weights because
they don???t develop the stabilizing muscles and functional strength that
protect you from injury. A few machines and isolation exercises mixed
in your program is fine, but
focusing on compound and free weight exercises gives you far more bang for your buck than any machine ever created.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #7: No mental preparation

This
mistake goes hand in hand with mistake number one (winging it). You
see, preparation is more than setting goals, writing out plans, and
scheduling workouts. Preparation is also mental, yet most people
haven???t the slightest idea just how powerful the mind is or how to
harness its power.

Psychologists and ???brain scientists??? have
proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the subconscious mind cannot
tell the difference between an experience that is real and one that is
imagined. Failure to take advantage of this discovery is a mistake of
enormous magnitude.

Kick butt workout tip #7: Use visualization and mental rehearsal daily

Arnold
Schwarzenneger, Jack Nicklaus, Andre Agassi and countless other sports
legends have written and spoken extensively about their regular use of
mental imagery. Those who succeeded, but claimed not to use such
techniques as visualization were surely using it unconsciously or in
a non-formalized manner. I would suggest you consciously and
deliberately use this technique in the following manner: Twice a day,
once in the morning and once at night, get relaxed, close your eyes and
form mental images of yourself having the body you???ve always wanted,
completing perfect workouts with motivation and enthusiasm and reaching
all your goals. These images will penetrate your subconscious mind and
literally program your brain to activate your body for total success.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #8: Not eating immediately after training

Not
eating anything after your workout (or waiting 2-3 hours to eat),
because (a) you don’t feel like eating, (b) you don’t have anything to
eat with you, (c) you heard that you get leaner if you don’t eat after
your workout is one of the most boneheaded things you can ever do!

Kick butt workout tip #8: Eat protein AND carbs (not just carbs) immediately after your workout

Much
research has been done on the topic of post workout nutrition in recent
years and the scientific literature is almost unanimous in its
findings: At one time carbohydrates were emphasized after a workout.
Other people insisted that protein is more important. The truth is, the
optimal post workout meal includes quickly digesting protein and
carbohydrates and is consumed immediately after training during the
period known as the post-workout window of opportunity. Although the
ideal amount and type of protein and carbs is still debated, the
studies have shown that proper post workout nutrition increases protein
synthesis, suppresses cortisol, replenishes glycogen, and enhances
recovery.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #9: Comparing yourself to others

Always
trying to one-up the next guy is bonehead behavior. Comparing yourself
to others is a great way to lower your self esteem and stay perpetually
frustrated, unhappy and dissatisfied!

Kick butt workout tip #9: Compare yourself to nobody but yourself

Legendary
UCLA basketball coach John Wooden always advised his players, ???Never
try to be better than someone else; but never cease trying to be the
best you can be. That is under your control. The other isn’t So why
not focus on competing with yourself? Compare yourself to yourself.

Improve
yourself. Work on progress and forward movement. Become better than you
used to be. Ultimately, competitive sports are most valuable to the
degree you use them to better yourself, not to beat others.

– – – – –

Bonehead workout mistake #10: Making excuses

Many
people, when they don’t get the result they want, or when things don’t
go the way they expect, insist it’s not their fault. When they don’t
lose any body fat, it’s their genetics or The diet just doesn’t work
When they fall off the wagon, it’s their friends and family’s fault
They just don’t support me, they even tempt me with junk food and eat
in front of me. When they miss workouts, it’s their boss’s fault. I
just don’t have time with so much work being piled on me at the
office No matter what the situation, the boneheads never even
consider that the problem is staring right back at them in the mirror
someone or something outside of them is always responsible.

Kick butt workout tip #10: Accept total, 100% responsibility for all your results good or bad

When
you win, you don’t attribute it to luck or give someone else the credit
for it. You proudly say, “I created it”, “I did it”, “that was me!”
However, if you want to take the credit for your wins, you must also
take credit for your losses and say, “Yep, I created it”, “I did it? that
was me Boneheads want to take credit for their successes but not
accept responsibility for their failures. Ultimately, that turns them
into nothing but big losers. Winners and successful people became
successful because they learned three magic words: I AM RESPONSIBLE.
Once you claim responsibility for every result in your life, the good
and the bad – the feeling of empowerment and liberation that comes over
you is beyond description. For the first time in your life, you realize
that YOU are in control. From that moment on – and not a second sooner
– you become the creator of circumstance rather than a victim of it.

– – – – –

Well,
that’s all ten of em’. Let me wrap up with what is perhaps the biggest
mistake of all, and that is: Not learning from your mistakes. Mistakes
are okay. The only people who don’t make any are the timid, wimpy
people who don’t even attempt anything. If you realize you’ve been
making a lot of these mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. As long as you
learn from them and stop making them, you’re off the hook! But if you
keep repeating these mistakes over and over again, then it’s official:
You’re a bonehead!

Tom Venuto

Tom Venuto is an NSCA-certified personal trainer certified strength
coach and author of the 1 e-book “Burn the Fat Feed The Muscle. Tom has
written over 170 articles and been featured in IRONMAN Natural
Bodybuilding Muscular Development Muscle-Zine Exercise for Men and Mens
Exercise. For info on Tom’s e-book visit: http://www.burnthefat.com. For Toms free monthly
e-zine visit Fitness Renaissance: http://www.fitren.com

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