Common Beginner Mistakes - Part 3

Part 3 of the "Common Beginner Mistakes" series is underway!  Like all the great series' out there (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Star Wars...), it's important that you check out each and every single one.  Take a look back at Part 1 and Part 2.  I'm sure you'll find a hidden gem or two in there that will help you make better progress in the weight room. As you may know, I'm a creature of habit.  I tend to order the same meal from Taco Bell (6 crunch tacos), dry my body off in the same sequence after taking a shower (I know... I'm weird), and I always choose the color blue while playing Settlers of Catan. With that, let's check out a couple of videos of incredible feats of strength.

Mistake #7 - Program Hopping

"Programs Hoppers" are a severe annoyance to all experienced strength and conditioning coaches out.  They typically suffer from a mild case of ADD, commitment issues, and a severe lack of gains.  These individuals can often be seen at your local Crossfit gym, never performing the same workout twice.  These people need a lesson in the mechanisms of musculoskeletal adaptation.  Mentioned in part 2, a major principle behind strength training is called the SAID principle.  This states that you body will form Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands.  In other words, your body will adapt to the stimulus that you apply to it, HOWEVER, it's critically important that you apply the stimulus for a sufficient period of time. If you're constantly changing the stimulus, the training effect will be negligible, and your body won't experience enough of the same stress to adapt and grow stronger.

This is why most of the established training programs are designed in blocks.  The exercise selection inside of a single block is typically static, and each block typically lasts 3-4 weeks.  This way your body has enough time to experience and adapt to the method of training.  Now, I'm not advocating doing the same exact thing for 3 weeks straight.  Another important principle of strength training is termed the Repeated Bout Effect.  This principle states that as you apply a stimulus and your body recovers and adapts to it, the same stimulus will not elicit an equal amount of adaptation.  Your body experiences a point of diminishing returns, and this is the reason we apply progressive overload and increase the weight on the bar over time.  In this way, we're applying a slightly greater stimulus, but maintaining the movement and allowing our body to adapt to greater and greater amounts of the same stress, and grow stronger because of it.  Here at SAPT, we program our clients in 4 week blocks, increasing volume over time, which in turn elicits progressive and consistent adaptation.

Mistake #8 - Sticking to the Same Program Too Long

Now, this may seem a bit contradictory to our previous point, but hear me out.  I touched briefly on the Repeated Bout Effect above, and this point of diminishing returns applies to whole strength programs/methods of training as well. Eventually, if you continue to do the same thing over and over and over again, you'll reach a point where you just aren't making measurable amounts of progress.  Once this occurs, you need to change the stimulus that you're applying to your body.  This doesn't mean do 1 week of 5/3/1, 2 weeks of the Cube Method, and follow it us with another week of Starting Strength.  You need to stick to a program to actually elicit the adaptation you are trying to achieve, and then mix it up and change the program once you've gotten all that you can from it.

This is a tricky concept, but in reality, you should be grateful for these training principles!  They allow you to gain valuable training experience.  All these programs are created using different training philosophies.  They utilize different methods of manipulating volume over time to elicit strength gains.  We're all unique human beings, and, because of this, we respond to stimuli in different ways and to different degrees.  Some people respond better to high frequency training with low to moderate intensity loads, while others adapt more efficiently to lower volume, high intensity training plans.  You may not respond to a training program in the same exact manner as your best friend, and you also may not adapt as well the second time you perform a program.  As you become more and more experience in strength training, you'll discover what works best for you.  You'll discover the style of training that meshes with your personality, lifestyle, and preferences, and, with a little bit of patience, you'll develop a system of eliciting strength gains progressively.