6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength

Legend has it that sometime 2500 years ago, Greek wrestling champion Milo of Croton had been carrying a calf every day since it was born until it grew into a bull.


6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength


While dragging a growing calf may not be the best way for you to gain strength, according to science it's not even necessary . Milo became stronger due to the consistency and progressive overload that is necessary for the gain. The fact is that better and faster you gain strength when you select all the training variables correctly.


Which factors are most often neglected? Here are our 6 strength training mistakes.


Mistake number 1: You are too focused on assisted and supplementary exercises

One mistake we all made during our early careers was excellence in small things. We used to set ridiculous targets, such as skull crushery (triceps extensions with a large dumbbell), because we knew that strong triceps are important for the big bench. But we got to a point where the focus was no longer bench press, but better skullcrushery. It was a slippery slope that we didn't notice until we hurt our elbow.


Ancillary, complementary or side exercises, call it what you want, they all represent the same: These exercises are designed to help with the main strokes. Of course, you want to become stronger in ancillary exercises to keep you structurally balanced, to keep progress at the main strokes and to avoid injuries. However, they are merely a means of achieving the objective. The main goal is strokes. 


6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength


Always perform complementary exercises with perfect technique when doing strength training. When focusing on single-joint exercises, keep your focus on the muscle you are working with, not just shifting the weight from point A to point B. Keep performing ancillary exercises after the main strokes.


Josh Bryant shares a technique to strengthen the mind-muscle connection:



Mistake number 2: You are not concentrating enough on movement during multi-joint exercises

Focusing on muscle contractions is great for single-joint movements or when you're not exercising with heavy weights. This changes significantly when moving to complex exercises, especially when combined with heavy weights. You will never be able to move a worthy amount of pig iron if you are trying to contract individual muscles while performing a heavy deadlift or squat. 


When it comes to multi-joint lifts anywhere near your maximum weight, your goal is to move the weight from point A to point B as far as possible while maintaining the perfect technique. Let the confusion and „feel“ of the muscle for the aesthetic crowd, your task is simply to handle the lift. Doing this over and over will build a habit. The more rooted the habit will be, the more weight you can lift.


6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength


If you are training a deadlift or other heavy weight exercise, do not try to feel the movement. Instead of focusing on repetition of difficult multi-joint movements, do it as explosively as possible.


Mistake number 3: You are exercising with a large number of repetitions

You won't be faster in football if you prepare by running endless miles of the marathon. Both running and weight training have a specific adaptation. The force at the main lift is measured by your one-rep max. Remember, if you are training to increase your 1RM, you need to train with heavy weights with few reps. Lifting 60% of your maximum weight with perfect technique on a high repetition set will in no way ensure that your technique will remain intact when you lift 90-100% of your maximum. 


6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength


Work your way up to the point where you are training with 85-100% of your maximum in the range of 1-4 reps and watch your RM and the maximum of reps increases. If you're in for an extreme challenge with this type of exercise, try the Wave Loading protocol. 


Mistake number 4: Warming up, that is too general

A few minutes on the treadmill to raise body temperature followed by dynamic stretching is amazing. But this amazement, contrary to popular belief, will not warm you up for the specific strokes you are training.


6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength


For power squats, you must be in the squat most of the time. Elite power athletes have found out long ago. Each repetition performed with perfect technique creates your squat habit and warms you up separately for the specific movement you will train.


If your goal is to squat with 150 pounds, try this during your next warm-up:

• 20 x 6 x 3 sets
• 60 x 5 x 2 sets
• 80 x 3 reps
• 100 x 2 reps
• 115 x 1 repetition
• 130 x 1 repetition 


Mistake number 5: You don't start your training with the most important exercise

In „Tommy Boy“ Chris Farley's father said, „If you want to check the quality of a T-bone steak, you can stick your head in a bull's ass, or you can trust a butcher.“ You can trust us or search PubMed. Either way, the truth is that you have to train what is most important from your training first. So, if your goal is to squat with higher weights, you should start with squats in your workout.

 6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength


Whatever exercise is most important to your goals, it must be done first, because as soon as fatigue comes, your work capacity and ability to produce strength are greatly compromised. Otherwise, you will not be able to perform the necessary and do not maximize the force adaptation from your strength training.


Mistake number 6: You skip period with a lower load

The day before the game, football teams take walks instead of real training to avoid injuries and exhaustion. In fact, most sports require a period of lower intensity to stay fresh during the game day. Exercise with weights is no exception. "Deload Week" means a period of lesser volume (fewer exercises and / or sets) and intensity (lighter weights). This week is an active recovery and a chance for your body to grow, build and regenerate from all the heavy weights and volumes you have trained.


6 biggest mistakes in strength training or how to gain strength

Taken from bodybuilding.com


The main rule is to train 70% of the total sets that you would practice normally. So, if you do 10-set squats, do only 7 during the deload week. Also at intensity, lift up 80% of the weight you trained in your last heavy weight exercise. If you pushed up 135 during the bench press the last time, now train with 108 (135 x 0.8 = 108).


Have you encountered any of these strength training mistakes? Share your experience with us in the comments and maybe you'll help other trainees. In case you liked the article, support it by sharing.