The 1 Weight Training Mistake You MUST Avoid!!

1 weight training mistake to avoid

March 7, 2016

This is a mistake that more often than not, kills a weight training program and is probably the main cause of why ambitious weight trainers decide to give up.

The thing is, this mistake is totally avoidable and if done properly, a person can use the negative aspects of this problem and use it to their advantage.

The problem is that most sources on the internet don’t let you in on it. I don’t know, maybe these sources don’t even know themselves…Or maybe they don’t want to let the genie out of the bottle. I’m not sure why but the problem goes something like this (we’ll use Joe as an example).

“Joe (fictional character) wants to get into shape. He wants to build some lean muscle mass and lose some body fat for the summer. Ideally, he wants to look good in a t-shirt and shorts and get back to feeling healthy. So, he does some research and finds out that in order to build muscle he needs to use a program that uses heavy weights for low repetitions (along the lines of a 5 x 5 program). So, he decides to use the program. For the first couple of weeks, he loads on the weight and the program seems to be working. After the third week, he starts to feel stronger and his muscles are getting stronger. Going into his workout on the fourth week, he notices he can’t add any more weight to his lifts. So, he decides to keep trying and add even more weight. To his surprise, he can’t get any stronger. In fact, by the fifth week, he starts to feel weaker! All of his lifts are declining and he’s noticing that he’s starting to feel tired all the time. By the sixth week, he’s throwing in the towel and going to try another program.

The next program is the same. It goes well for the first week or two and then it stops. After the third week, Joe wants to change to another routine. This goes on and on until one day, Joe stops training and gives up.”

The problem that Joe (our fictional character) is something that we have all experienced and it’s virtually an unknown element in our training programs that we don’t even know exists. Believe me, it’s there and until you take a close look at it, you won’t even notice that it’s a problem until you find yourself in a perpetual weight training program spin, going from one program to another.

This isn’t the fault of the person; it isn’t even the fault of the program. It is the fault of the program creator to explain the concept of correct weight training progressiveness. Often times, it is almost a given for program creators to simply state that a person has to do x amount of repetitions x amount of sets. However, more often than not, the correct explanation of when and how to use work load progression in relation to repetitions and sets is often left out. Really, beginners have no clue when to increase weight loads or how to relate progressive sets with progressive loads.

And that is the problem (or mistake if you will). It is:

“The failure to introduce and gradually add more intensity (workloads) into a weight training program over a period of time (training cycle) allowing the body to adjust and accommodate the workloads WITHOUT going into workout over load to early. By going into an over load state to early, the body cannot properly adjust to the added workloads and basically stalls until the body decides to grow again, if it grows at all”

To illustrate this point, let’s use our example Joe.

Let’s say Joe decides on a chest building program he gets from the internet. It goes something like this:

Bench press: 5 x 5

Incline press: 5 x 5

Flat fly: 3 x 15

Dips: 3 x failure

The program recommends that the user goes as heavy as possible in order to build muscle and to get stronger.

Given that information, Joe decides to hit the program hard and heavy right from the start. He starts his program as follows:

Bench press:

Set 1: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 2: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 3: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 4: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 5: 85% of one rep maximum

Incline press:

Set 1: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 2: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 3: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 4: 85% of one rep maximum

Set 5: 85% of one rep maximum

Flat Fly:

3 x 15: 70% of maximum

Dips:

3 x failure (ramp up to maximum)

Taking a look at the above noted progression, it will be a matter of weeks until Joe stops growing. In fact, he may experience negative growth in which the body actually gets weaker (depending on when he works his chest). The fact of the matter is that Joe isn’t allowing his body the time it needs to progressively adjust to higher and higher workloads. Ideally, Joe should only be nearing 85% of his maximum near the END of his training cycle instead of the beginning. Once Joe nears the end of his training cycle, he will enter into an over load state which will only briefly last for a week or two.

Let’s take a look at how Joe’s program should look like, using a sample 5 x 5 routine and a basic progressive program:

Weeks 1 – 6: Sets 1 to 4

Set 1: 5 reps: 35% of maximum

Set 2: 5 reps: 45% of one rep maximum

Set 3: 5 reps: 55% of one rep maximum

Set 4: 5 reps: 60% of one rep maximum

Weight stays constant for the duration of the 6 weeks. Don’t add any more weight to these sets from week to week.

Week 1 to 6: Set 5 (Work set)

Week 1: 5 reps: 65% of one rep max.

Week 2: 5 reps: 70% of rep max.

Week 3: 5 reps: 75% of one rep max.

Week 4: 5 reps: 80% of one rep max.

Week 5: 5 reps: 85% of one rep max.

Week 6: 5 reps: 85% to 90% of one rep max

The first 4 sets are more or less “warm ups” which conserves as much energy as possible for the last work set which is the only set that should matter. Do you notice how the only set that uses progression is the last set? This is often considered the “growth” set and is the only set that will make the biggest difference to your bottom line results. Also take note that the program ramps up to the final week using one big final push on week six. Doing so, allows the body to gradually adjust and accommodate heavier workloads until it reaches it’s over load state (week 6). Once an over load state has been reached, it’s time to reset the cycle. However, this time with heavier weights than when you started using the same style of progression.

Do you see how this progressive cycle works? Let’s say Joe has a max bench press of 205 pounds. Here’s how his progression will look:

Weeks 1 – 6: Sets 1 to 4

Set 1: 5 reps: 35% of maximum: 70 pounds

Set 2: 5 reps: 45% of one rep maximum: 95 pounds

Set 3: 5 reps: 55% of one rep maximum: 110 pounds

Set 4: 5 reps: 60% of one rep maximum: 125

Weight stays constant for the duration of the 6 weeks. Don’t add any more weight to these sets from week to week.

Week 1 to 6: Set 5 (Work set)

Week 1: 5 reps: 65% of one rep max: 135 pounds

Week 2: 5 reps: 70% of one rep max: 145 pounds

Week 3: 5 reps: 75% of one rep max: 155 pounds

Week 4: 5 reps: 80% of one rep max: 165 pounds

Week 5: 5 reps: 85% of one rep max: 175 pounds

Week 6: 5 reps: 85% to 90% of one rep max: 175 to 185 pounds

If Joe started at 85% of his max from the start, he would have maxed out his efforts by week 2 or 3, thereby killing his progression and sabotaging his program. More often than not, he would have ended up in a program switch cycle going from program to program destined to repeat the mistake over and over.

Now, let’s say Joe finishes the cycle (after 6 weeks) and is able to bench 225 pounds. His new cycle will look as follows:

Weeks 1 – 6: Sets 1 to 4

Set 1: 5 reps: 35% of maximum: 80 pounds

Set 2: 5 reps: 45% of one rep maximum: 100 pounds

Set 3: 5 reps: 55% of one rep maximum: 125 pounds

Set 4: 5 reps: 60% of one rep maximum: 135

As with the first training cycle, the weight stays constant for the duration of the 6 weeks. Joe doesn’t add any more weight to these sets from week to week.

Week 1 to 6: Set 5 (Work set)

Week 1: 5 reps: 65% of one rep max: 145 pounds

Week 2: 5 reps: 70% of one rep max: 160 pounds

Week 3: 5 reps: 75% of one rep max: 170 pounds

Week 4: 5 reps: 80% of one rep max: 180 pounds

Week 5: 5 reps: 85% of one rep max: 190 pounds

Week 6: 5 reps: 85% to 90% of one rep max: 190 to 205 pounds

At the end of the training cycle, Joe may want to try and perform a double or a triple the following week to assess his overall strength increase. This will help Joe figure out his next starting position for the next training cycle.

Never, ever perform a double or triple during a training cycle – Only at the end of the cycle. Also, don’t do a single! There is just way too much risk of injury and it does little in the way of building muscle.

Ok, can you see the pattern here? This is the REAL way to build muscle and get strong. Don’t let anyone else tell you different because there isn’t any other way. There are other alternative techniques, which we will get into next week (I’ll have an article on alternative intensity techniques) but remember, they all follow the same progression principle.

You can apply this style of progression to just about any type of movement.

For some of you, the weight may feel light and you may feel like you’re not getting anything out of it, but remember, this game is all about progression. Believe me, once you understand the power of this principle, you will grow beyond your wildest dreams!

Follow this style of training and you will:

  • Keep growing
  • Keep getting stronger; and
  • Avoid training plateaus

Do you have a question? Simply go here and have your say:

Contact Us

Keep growing and stay safe,

Blake
Building Muscle 101

As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.



Home > General Routines > Workout Articles