Common Beginner Mistakes - Part 2

Aaaaand we're back!  Today marks the 2nd post in a truly unforgettable series of blog posts.  Last week, we discussed a few mistakes that beginners often make, and this week we will be dissecting a few more!  But first, let's watch some awesome videos of SAPT athletes and coaches moving some heavy weight.

Mistake #4: Not Having a Goal in Mind

You should always have an end goal in mind when it comes to your training.  That goal should be specific to you, and should guide the exercises that you choose, the frequency with which you train, and the importance that training has in your life.  Your goal may be to run a marathon, your friend's goal may be to squat 500 pounds, while your mom's goal is simply to stay active and move around more often.  These are all very valid reasons to train, and will require vastly different approaches.  Your workouts will need to include large amounts of running, while your friend will need to spend much, much more time inside of a squat rack.  Your mom, well she just need to get off the couch and exercise a little more often, whatever that means to her.

Not only is it hard to stay motivated when you don't have a target to shoot for, it's difficult to make progress, and it's even harder to measure your progress.  You need to know what you want to achieve in order to achieve it, right?  At the end of the day, the reason that we train doesn't matter, but it's important to have a reason.  Once you understand and are comfortable with your motivation for training, then you can pick a program that will help you achieve that goal.  If training simply isn't a priority in your life, then own that decision, and live with it.  This just means that your "training plan" will be less frequent than someone who prioritizes physical activity and has a fitness goal that they want to achieve.

Mistake #5: Using an Inappropriate Program

Now that you understand your goal, you need to pick a program that is geared towards achieve it.  It makes no sense to jump on Johnnie Walker's Maximal Mass Building Program if your goal is to run a sub 2:30 marathon.  That program in no way, shape, or form is going to prepare you to run 26 miles at a 5:45/mile pace, no matter how much effort you put into it.

Specificity is one of the key training principles that dictates physiological adaptation.  Specificity simply means that your body will adapt to whatever stimulus you apply to it, whether that be the stimulus of sitting on the couch eating potato chips or squatting with a heavy load on your back.  In the first case, you will get very good at eating potato chips and utilizing very low amounts of energy.  The second individual will in turn become better and better at squatting with a heavy load.  Due to this reality, your training program needs to be specific to your goals.  It needs to be structured in a way that fosters intelligent and consistent progression in whatever area of fitness/health that you are trying to achieve.  Simply put, if your goal is to run long distances, you need to spend time running long distances.  If your goal is to jump incredibly high, you need to spend time jumping and increasing your rate of force production.

Mistake #6: Having Too Many Goals!

Building off of all of this, it's counterproductive to focus on a ton of goals at one time.  I find myself making this mistake far too often for my liking.  I want to be strong.  I want to be fast.  I want to have the ability to run 20 miles whenever I want.  These goals are all well and good, and may very well be achievable, but it's incredibly difficult (read: almost impossible) to try and achieve all of these things at once.  That's not to say don't shoot for the stars.  You just need to realize that Rome wasn't built in one day.  Instead, it took a series of events, a ton of effort, and the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of men to create arguably the most formidable and influential empire ever created.

Now, I realize that you are a person, not an empire.  What this means in terms of your athletic and fitness goal, is that you need to periodize your training.  Develop training blocks that are focused on building maximal strength, then blocks concentrated on improving your power production, then blocks where you're concentrating on increasing your aerobic endurance, not necessarily in that order.  It's much easier to make progress this way, and may save you from spending month after month spinning your wheels and making no progress at all. ____________________________________________________

Finally, we'll wrap up this segment with a couple of quotes on the importance of goal setting:

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else." - Yogi Berra

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps." - Confuscius

"Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history.  Give me a man with no goals, and I'll give you a stock clerk." - J.C. Penney