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27 Mistakes That Keep You From Achieving The Results You Want

You've been lifting, spinning, running, kettlebelling, rowing, 'CrossFitting', etc- for months with little to no results. Maybe your spin instructor or CrossFit 'coach' is telling you that you're making progress, but you just don't see it in the mirror. What's worse, you feel overtrained at times, like you could easily become injured while training.

Obviously, something is missing from the equation of fat loss and muscle building/toning.

Here, in no particular order, is a collection of popular nutrition and training mistakes that keep hard working individuals like yourself from making the needle move in the right direction. You might not be guilty of every offense on the list, but you'll likely find that at least 2 or 3 of the items apply directly to you. Grab yourself a nice green tea, and a slice of humble pie...

  1. You try every new thing
    • Exercise magazine in hand, you try everything under the sun, being blown about like a reed by every wind of doctrine. This gets you results for exactly 3 months as a newbie, but after that your beginner's luck will run out.
  2. You cling to dead routines and training methodologies
    • If your session plan starts with "My old coach taught me...", stop and ask yourself "Was my coach a strength and conditioning coach, or did he just know how to play the game really well?" Chances are that while he means well, he's just regurgitating what his coach taught him 20+ years ago, which is in turn what his coach taught him 20+ years before. Stop the madness. Pick up a real trainer, or buy a book written within the last 20 years to get a more well-rounded picture of what the science suggests today.
  3. You don't plan a periodized training routine
    • You just walk into the gym and do what you feel... every time. Again, this works for a time, but not for very long. Plan your training for at least a month out, if not the entire year, making adjustments as you go, but don't just walk in the to the gym and jump around or pick up heavy things willy-nilly.
    • P.S. If you belong to a club or bootcamp, ask your trainer to explain the periodization to you. You're welcome.
  4. You don't deload/reload frequently enough
    • You're always pushing the heaviest weight you can, or cranking out the fastest times on your drills, because you worry about losing results. This is a fast track to overtraining and injury. It can happen in as little as your first 8 weeks of training. Most trainees need to take things down a notch for just a few days every 6-8 weeks. Only do maybe 90% of what you might normally do. [This is precisely why all good runners do occasional tempo runs instead of cranking out PRs, or doing heavy speed work on the oval track all the time. It applies to all physical disciplines.]
  5. You fully deload every month
    • On the other hand, if you're taking things waaaay down, then you have a different problem: it's called being a wuss. Toughen up, take your medicine, and only deload enough to keep from overtraining, or you actually do risk back-sliding in your progress.
  6. You don't warm up often enough
    • The warm up is the single most effective tool for injury prevention during workouts. Period. Take 5 minutes and do it right, going through the range of motion you'll use for each major body part.
  7. You warm up for too long
    • On the flip side, if you're warming up for 15 minutes, you will hamper your performance of certain training protocols, so be careful when attempting to PR- keep the warm up short but thorough.
  8. You focus on stretching, not your goals
    • Being flexible is awesome, and it's a goal in and of itself. Know that it takes time and focus. But reaching full splits won't make you bigger, faster, or stronger, so dedicate the necessary time to those goals too.
  9. You don't focus on joint mobility
    • Snap, Crackle, Pop. This should not be the sound your body makes while training. Make enough time to mobilize your lower back, hips, knees, and ankles [at the very least] before every training session. Then make time to get your back, neck, shoulders, elbows, and wrists on upper body training days.
  10. You lift too heavy
    • Guess what, tough guy, those heavy weights are actually keeping you small; you're not lifting in the right rep range to elicit a hypertrophy effect. Thanks for playing. Better luck next session.
  11. You don't lift heavy enough
    • On the other hand if you're doing 25 reps easily on each set, unless you're doing a power endurance exercise like kettlebell sport, you are likewise doing it wrong. Challenge yourself to use a weight that you can only lift for 10-15 reps.
  12. You avoid corrective lifts
    • Strengthening the rotator cuff is essential for most guys in most 'ball sports', as well as gymnastics and any sport that requires loading the arms and shoulders. Ab work is also a necessary evil. Avoid them at your own peril.
  13. You only do corrective, functional lifts
    • OK, Mr. Functional, get off the BOSU trainer, stop doing 15 minutes of box jumps every day, put the body blade down, and come back to reality: if you don't get under the olympic bar again, you won't get stronger.
  14. You neglect your posture while lifting
    • Obviously I'm not your mom, but she was right when she told you not to slouch; keep a fixed distance from your navel to your sternum- and keep that distance constant during all of your heavy lifts. Breaking posture while lifting heavy is the number one killer of strength and safety. Slipped discs, hernias, and failed PR attempts will be your reward.
            • Next up, Nutrition...
  15. You fast too often
    • Intermittent Fasting might work for you, but if you do it all the time there's another word for it: anorexia. It would be pretty silly to land in the hospital from fainting in the gym, don't you think? Results are supposed to take time so slow down a touch, and stay safe.
  16. You fast at the wrong times
    • I know it's popular to trained in a fasted state, but if this is not the most effective thing for you, move on. Try a new approach, or risk having no results at best, and [more likely] the aforementioned trip to the hospital at worst.
  17. You don't listen to your body's hunger response
    • The enzyme Ghrelin has a great job: it makes you feel hungry. Get better at listening to it, and you'll come to understand more about how your body's infradian hunger/feeding/insulin rhythms work- which will make you a more effective self-diagnoser of your unique nutritional needs. 
  18. You snack too often
    • The catch with Ghrelin is that sometimes it  shouts when it should whisper. If you snack all day, it will take time to break with this habit, but once you do, the results will finally come.
  19. You eat too little protein
    • Read any modern book on shaping the physique, and you'll get an earful about the importance of protein in muscle building/toning. If you're trying to build muscle, get in more protein. If you're trying to burn fat eat more protein. Yeah, it's pretty important.
  20. You eat too much protein
    • Admittedly, this is actually kind of rare [no pun intended] as most people engaged in a very intense training program usually couldn't shovel in too much protein if their very life depended on it- BUT, it does happen on occasion. Calories are still calories, and it is still possible to consume too much protein.
  21. You eat the wrong kind of protein
    • It's more likely that you're eating protein from the wrong sources, which means that you're also ingesting a metric tonne of saturated fats unintentionally, and miscalculating the amount of calories you take in from fat. Go with the leanest cuts for easier calculation, and always go organic, grassfed, free-range/free-graze, etc. so that the marbling of your meat is of a healthier variety.
    • Worse, you may have bought into the Vegan myth of vegetable protein being enough to sustain life. Let me 100% crystal clear: this is bunk.
  22. You eat too much carbohydrate
    • Yes, you. Drop the donut, and quit your whining. This one is the most pervasive mistakes out there, and usually the fastest way to get ahead on your goals by an additional 5-10 lbs within the first month of a new program. Drop it like it's hot, and watch the needle go down on that scale.
  23. You don't carb load enough, or at the right times
    • For guys trying to put on mass, you need carbs to refuel your natural glycogen stores [some of the energy used for lifting] quickly, and you need to spread them out throughout the day. Not all before bedtime, or you get the reverse effect [carb backloading], and not all at breakfast or you'll spike and then crash with insulin.
  24. You eat the wrong kind of carbohydrate
    • Refined flour? White sugar? Get rid of it. All of it. For sweetener, stick with maple syrup or honey whereever possible, and switch to whole, unprocessed grains if you can.
  25. You eat too much fat
    • As mentioned before, this is a super common mistake when you eat a lot of red meat, or when you're addicted to cheese and nuts as snack food. Excess fat can kill your progress by supressing natural hunger response at the times when you need other nutrients!
  26. You eat the wrong kinds of fat
    • All saturated fat? Yuck. All polyunsaturated fats from veggie sources? Meh. Keep it in balance: Essential Fatty Acids from flax, fish, and other specialty oils, and saturated fats from pure sources like coconut oil, with a smattering of monounsaturated oil from olives.
  27. You eat too little fat
    • Again, this is pretty common: the '80s brainwashed us into believing that all fat and salt was evil. Not so. Get just a little bit at every meal, and watch your body thrive!
Stay Strong, Friends.

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