You started exercising because you’ve got goals. You’ve even included some strength training in your exercise routine because you’ve heard it’s important. And you’re committed to make it all work.
So you’re working out every week, but maybe your results are… well, lack luster.
If you’re not getting OUT of your workout what you feel you are putting IN, you may be misinformed about the real principles behind how strength training actually works to achieve the best results.
If you’re making any of these “mindset mistakes” about strength training, your beliefs about strength training exercise may be holding you back from experiencing all the benefits your workouts can potentially offer.
Change these core beliefs to change your body.
1. How much weight you lift is important.
The amount of weight you lift does not matter AT ALL. The intensity to which you work your muscles is what counts. The stimulus you provide the muscles by working them deeply and thoroughly is what re-builds muscle and keeps your body strong.
The amount of weight you lift is a tool used to exhaust the muscles. The goal of strength training is to thoroughly and completely exhaust your muscles. Not to lift weights up and down.
Focus on exhausting your muscles to the point of complete muscle fatigue during each strength training exercise you perform.
2. You’ve gotta finish that last repetition.
This one makes me cringe.
Have you ever been to a typical gym where you see people lifting weights and breaking their form to finish that final rep? Don’t be that person!
The point of strength training is NOT to lift a weight a certain number of times. Again, the goal of strength training is to intensely exhaust the muscles so that in the recovery process, they rebuild (and overcompensate) and you create more strength in your body.
Breaking form and using momentum to finish that last rep totally negates the actual goal of strength training.
By using momentum or muscle groups not directly involved in the exercise to force that last rep out gives the target muscles a rest from the tension.
Your goal should never be to finish your final rep. Weight training is about challenging the muscles until they are 110% exhausted and they’ve got nothing left for you.
You should approach your final rep with perfect form. Slowly, with control, continue to try to lift the weight for ten seconds after you are unable to move the weight. While the weight won’t move from that point forward, continuing to push into the weight at the point of muscle fatigue is not the same as forcing the rep out.
When you slowly continue to push into the unmoving weight on the last rep, you are working your muscle to total muscle fatigue, providing a stimulus for muscle recovery, which is the real point of strength training.
3. As long as the weights go up and down, you are getting exercise.
Not necessarily. Teaching people how to lift weights mindfully is the most important part of our work training clients at Genesis Personal Fitness.
Most people who lift weights throw them up and then take a vacation on the way down as the weight falls.
If you throw the weights up in the lifting phase, your muscles are doing a very small percentage of the work. If you relax the muscles on the lowering phase, the muscles aren’t doing anything on the way down.
Don’t let your muscles be lazy wet noodles during your strength training workout! Focus on using your muscles to lift the weights and engaging your muscles to resist against the weights as you lower.
Your muscles should be fully engaged and working the entire time you are performing an exercise.
No lazy muscles. Keep them working THE ENTIRE TIME.
4. If you are performing an exercise, you are working the correct muscles.
I’ve seen people perform a chest press without using their chest muscles. At all.
First and foremost, you have to perform your exercises with PERFECT form. Actually, BETTER than PERFECT.
This is where a Genesis Certified Trainer is essential. When we train clients at Genesis Personal Fitness, we don’t want a single muscle fiber out of step. And for this level of precision, you need to be focused on the target muscles and deliberately ENGAGE them to perform the movement.
We aren’t just going to move some weights around and leave the results up to chance.
5. Strength training has to be time-consuming.
If you perform strength training with perfect form, keeping the correct target muscles engaged for the duration of the exercise (without compensating or cheating), you will exhaust your muscles very quickly, build lean muscle and increase strength.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym each week to see these results. 30 minutes a workout, twice a week can do it.
Before I became aware of the science behind strength training, I would spend 90-120 minutes lifting weights. 2 or 3 times a week. This took a lot of time which I did not have being married, father of 4, traveling for work, and putting in long hours. What would usually happen is that I would not work out because it took too much time. The hectic pace of my life hasn’t changed but now strength training only takes 60 minutes a week as opposed to 360 minutes.
If performed properly, each exercise you perform should only have to last 90-150 seconds.
The time you spend in the gym doesn’t have much to do with the results you experience. It’s the quality of the exercise that actually matters.
Time is so precious, use it wisely, train properly.
BONUS: If you feel the burn, you exhausted the muscles.
A reporter asked Muhammed Ali how many sit-ups do you do and he replied ‘I don’t know..I don’t start counting until they start to hurt”. What he was referring to is the ‘burn’. When your muscles begin to burn from your exercise, you aren’t at the end. You’re at the beginning.
Your muscles should begin burning shortly after the exercise begins, and the feeling of “the burn” should become more and more uncomfortable as you continue.
So many people quit the exercise after feeling the very beginnings of the muscle burn, thinking they have reached the end goal of weight training.
The goal of strength training exercise is to exhaust the muscles, not to feel a burn. The burning you feel is an indication that you are on the right track and you are getting closer to muscle fatigue.
So don’t stop when you start to feel it, keep going. View the burn as the beginning and an essential part of exercise.
Exercise is your time to develop and work on your relationship with your body. Be present. Be focused. Decide this is the time to live inside your body.
If you’re in the Newtown Area of Bucks County, reach out to us at 215-504-0100 to schedule a complimentary first strength training session with one of our expert trainers at Genesis Personal Fitness.
We can’t wait to meet you!!!!!
Kelley Tate is the owner of Genesis Personal Fitness located in Newtown, PA. Before taking ownership, he spent many years as a corporate executive where he developed a passion for living a healthy lifestyle but struggled with incorporating it in his busy schedule. He looked at and tried many fitness programs and weight loss solutions but none of them were compatible with his many business and family obligations, until he found Genesis.
Genesis Personal Fitness specializes in offering customized weight management and strength training programs. They combine individual metabolic information along with body composition data to design a program that meets each person’s health and fitness goals without spending hours in the gym or fad dieting. At 52, Kelley is in the best shape of his life and wants to help others do the same.
For more information about Genesis Personal Fitness, please call 215-504-0100.