Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
We're into the final 6 weeks of lockdown before gym & fitness centres will reopen. While most of us have adapted to training from our own living rooms or back gardens, a lot of people are making these common mistakes which should be avoided. The first two mistakes apply specifically to training at home while the third and final point, applies to most people's training in general.
1. Doing the Same Workout Everyday
Repeating the same workout everyday will eventually lead to a point of diminishing returns. You’re not experiencing a ‘plateau’ you just haven’t added enough variety and overload. There’s a reason most Personal Trainers & Strength Coaches change their clients program's every 3-5 weeks – so they can create a new adaptation which will allow their client or athlete to make progress. You wouldn’t do the same gym workout for 6 weeks in a row so why do you think training at home is any different? To quote legendary strength coach Louie Simmons, ‘to adapt is not to adapt.’
Take a push up as an example – instead of doing them always the same way for the same number of reps, adjust the move by going down for a count of 3-5s (eccentric), by pausing at the bottom for 3-5s (isometric), by elevating your feet, by tapping your shoulder at the top – you get the idea! Although you’re still performing a push up, you’re doing different variations of the same exercise which will provide your body with a training stimulus. There are loads of others ways to add variety – these include adding more sets or reps, changing up your rest periods, changing your training split and doing timed sets to name a few. If you click here, I demonstrate three effective ways to add variety to your push ups.
2. Performing a fixed number of reps
Deciding you’re going to perform a pre-determined number of reps may be holding you back from making real progress. To analyse this further, let’s quickly break down the three main ways we build muscle as outlined by Brad Schoenfeld.
While there may be a small percentage of you reading this who have heavy enough weights at home to continue strength training, I’m speaking to the masses here so I’m going to rule out mechanical tension as a means of building muscle during lockdown for most. So, for the majority of you to continue to make progress, you have metabolic stress and/or muscular damage to choose from.
Now, going back to our home training let’s use the push up as an example again. Let’s say the max amount of push ups you can do in one go is 25. If someone put a gun to your head, you wouldn’t be able to do 26 as hard as you might try! Yet, knowing 25 is your max, you take out your sheet of paper and write down on your program card 3x12. After you do your 12th rep, you rest for a couple of seconds, get a drink and perform your second and third set. Does this fall under metabolic stress or muscular damage? The answer – neither! Why? You are neither putting enough tension on the muscle (metabolic stress) nor breaking down the muscle fibers enough by using a controlled tempo (muscular damage) to get a training stimulus. Now, check out the two examples below of how you could change this.
Metabolic Stress: Perform a 10-15 decline push ups before performing a dropset of 10-15 normal push ups (assuming 25 is your max). All of a sudden there is a HUGE increase of stress on the muscle which in turn will lead to growth.
Muscular Damage: Perform a push up while lowering yourself down for a count of 5s before pressing explosively up. Say you did perform just 12 reps but performed each rep for a count of 5s on the way down, that’s over one full minute (5s x12s) of performing push ups. I don’t care who you are, doing this can make them difficult real quick!
Now do you see the problem of performing a fixed sets by reps scheme of bodyweight training. Quite simply, if you’re not putting enough tension or breaking down your muscles fibers by adding some tempo to your lifts, you’re going to find it more difficult to make real progress.
3. Neglecting the posterior chain
What are the muscles of your posterior chain? If you were to stand directly in front of a mirror and look at yourself, they are the muscles you can’t see – the major ones being your hamstrings, glutes and all of your back. Everyone wants to develop ‘mirror muscles’ including your chest and abs but a lot tend to forget about the posterior chain! The good news is, you can still train your ‘mirror muscles’ provided you balance it with training the unsexy, non-mirror muscles!
Why is it important to train your posterior chain? If you overlook them, it can lead to all kinds of issues with your posture and can lead to muscle imbalances. As Kelly Starrett would say, don’t be the guy walking around with the dreaded ‘douchebag shoulders.’ ‘Douchebag’ or rounded shoulders are almost always as a result of either doing too many pressing movements and/or due to our lifestyle habits of sitting down staring at a screen for too long.
Furthermore, if you’re an athlete reading this, ask yourself – what are the main muscles recruited for sprinting? And the answer is of course your hamstrings and glutes! How often do you hear of people pulling their quads? But how many people have torn or pulled their hamstring before? I’ve suffered enough of them in the past as a result of being overly quad-dominant and not strong enough in my glutes and hamstrings.
You’re probably wondering at this stage, ‘what are some at home posterior chain exercises I can do?’ For the hamstrings & glutes, I love RDL and all variations of them as you can see here. Glute bridges, single leg glute bridges, feet elevated bridges & frog pumps are all great ways to really target the glutes and hamstrings without needing any equipment. For upper body & particularly you’re upper back – any client I’ve trained or has done a program of mine in the past can be sure they have done variations of blackburn's & Y,W,T’s. These exercises are amazing for your shoulder health as well as your postural muscles. You will be humbled how difficult blackburn’s or Y,W,T’s are – and I don’t care how much you bench!
So if you have put together a home workout plan of your own, to continue to make progress, be sure not to make the common three mistakes of:
Thank you for reading. To find out more about my online program's, click here and I'd be happy to help you.
Adrian McDonnell -
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