We’ve all made training mistakes when we start weight training. Often we learn from these as we progress through years. Sometimes we don’t and wonder why we aren’t progressing like we could be. Here are 6 mistakes that I have taken from my own experiences as well as what I’ve observed in my years of training and coaching.

1) Going on “cutting” phases.

When you’ve been training for less than a year and are now 70kg, cutting is not something to even think about. You’re already scrawny and all you are doing is hindering the process of adding more muscle mass and strength. Keep eating through your beginner years getting as big and strong as possible and take advantage of those beginner gains. Different advice is heeded if you are starting training fat, then the focus is on getting strong while changing your eating habits.

2) Thinking protein powder is the answer to your progress.

If you think protein powder is going to be the game changer in your training, then marketing gurus at these supplement companies have earned their paychecks. Sorry to say, protein powder is just well… protein. Like chicken, like fish and other meats that contain protein just in different forms and different ratios of protein to fat. If you are relying on protein powder for your fat loss or muscle gain, then your nutrition probably sucks.

3) Pushing more than Pulling.

To keep yourself healthy, making sure you pull as much as you push is vital. Some even recommend a 2:1 or even 3:1 pull to push ratio in training. For beginners, often posture is a problem due to years of sitting and desk work.  Prioritising training for the muscles you can’t see in the mirror will help you build a strong foundation for your pressing movements as well as helping restore postural problems.

4) Training one muscle a day.

“Blasting” chest on Monday and Legs on Wednesday then not training them at all for a week isn’t the best use of your time as a beginner. Being a beginner, you can handle a higher frequency of training due to many factors such as lower levels of strength. Organising your training week in movement patterns such as push and pull will allow you do double your frequency of training per muscle group but also not leave you so sore in one area which takes 4 days to feel better.

5) Not having any progression in your training.

Lifting the same load, with the same set/rep scheme like you see with the casual gym goer on the bench press each week is not helping you progress. Progression can be implemented in a few different ways such as increasing load, increasing number of reps, increasing number of sets, decreasing rest times, increasing speed of the lift. Depending on the adaptations you are after or the current phase of training you are in will dictate how you progress each session/week. If you’re after getting stronger, you may want to increase the load of the exercise each week. If you are trying to gain size, you may want to increase sets or reps. If you are looking to improve your work capacity in a certain lift, then you may decrease your rest times. Be sure not to do all of these at once!

6) Changing programs/exercises too often.

While variety is good and can help reinforce important aspects of movements through different dynamics, learning a few movements first and sticking with them will give you the most bang for your buck. The general rule of thumb is stick with a program or exercise for 6 weeks and reassess from there. However, big lifts such as squatting and deadlifting depending on your sport/goals should remain staples in your training. Small variations within the lifts such as pulling from a deficit or pausing your squats can be enough of a stimulus to continue progress.

While the title of this article is training mistakes to avoid, making many of these mistakes myself has helped me learn and grow as a coach and athlete. While you can read what not to do online, often times figuring it out yourself will enhance your own future training as you learn more about training and how you respond to certain ideas.