When you start out in the iron game, the motivation is high and you are willing to do whatever it takes to make gains. This can be a good and bad thing. If you go at it too hard and try and do too much at once, overtraining and non-responsive training modalities will appear. If you try and do every workout program on the planet and not follow some fundamental principles, you could be taking one step forward and two steps back.
If you want to make gains you need to stop making these rookie mistakes and approach your training in the correct manner. Take a look at these tips I have when training each muscle group.
What To Do: More Pull-ups
When we think of someone that has a strong upper-body we immediate go to the bench press. Yes, the bench press is a fantastic exercise that builds strength and mass. So is the lat pulldown but the pull-up is the king of them all. The pull-up requires you to use almost every muscle in your upper-body and demands absolute strength. If you ask any person that has wide lats and a thick back what they did to build it, pull-ups will come in the conversation.
Rookie Mistake: Too many isolation exercises
What To Do: Just squat
Isolation exercises such as leg extensions, leg curls and calf raises can be very attractive exercises to rookies. They require a low amount of learning curve and will produce a nice burn when performing them. The problem is the recruit a low amount of muscle, don’t build a solid foundation for strength and elicit fewer hormones, such as testosterone and growth hormone.
In order to build a foundation of strength and muscle, you must squat in some way, shape or form. The squat, regardless if it is with a bar, done with one leg, with a dumbbell or kettlebell, is essential to life, sport, and physique enhancement. It works a ton of muscle and one time and produces a nice hormonal surge. You can include some isolation work in you program but only after the squat is done.
Rookie Mistake: Not doing push-ups enough
What To Do: Do more push-ups
Since we were all in grade school in gym class, we had to do a push-up. Probably wrong but I digress. It is what is. In saying that, doing push-ups wrong yields little results. Doing them correctly in the rational manner, feet elevated or with weight on your back can build some serious muscle and strength. We all love the barbell and dumbbells presses, pec flys and dips, but the push-up is the foundation to chest training. Humble yourself with some weighted push-ups and watch your pecs grow.
Rookie Mistake: Doing too many dumbbell and cable raises
What To Do: More presses
Doing various overhead presses can be hard. I don’t care what others say. If you hoist some good amount of weight above your head it is going to be tough. Not only are your shoulders going to be taxed but so are your core and leg muscles. Again, the whole concept of working more muscle at once to increase protein synthesis and hormone production is key for strength training. Add exercises such as db. Lateral raises, front raises and rear delt flys when needed but the bulk of your efforts should be with barbell, kettlebell and dumbbell overhead presses.
Rookie Mistake: Only focusing on shrugs
What To Do: More upper-back work
Don’t get me wrong; various shrugs can help you build a nice set of traps. The problem is that shrugging is only one movement pattern. The traps are much more complex and require a verity of movements to hit the lower, mid, and upper trapezius to it’s fullest potential. Make sure to focus on exercise such as face pulls, high pulls, deadlifts and dumbbell rows to hit all of traps.
Rookie Mistake: Isolating the abs
What To Do: Work them as a whole
The abdominals get a bad wrap. People shun crunches and sit-ups and they say you don’t need to work the abs if you lift heavy. This is a joke. It’s like saying don’t work the biceps if you do chin-ups. Sure, the chin-up hits the biceps but you need a little detail work. Exercises like ab wheel rollouts, hanging leg raises and weighted carries nail the abs and are essential to creating a strong core and a solid looking midsection.
Justin Grinnell is the Owner of State of Fitness in East Lansing, Michigan. State of Fitness opened up just four years ago and is already one of the leading training facilities in the Midwest. State of Fitness has over 450 members who train every day under his leadership. In addition to being a facility owner, Justin has his own blog at www.grinnelltraining.com (link below), and has been a featured writer for over 6 years in the magazine Healthy & Fit and is a writer for Muscle & Fitness.