My Biggest Training Mistake

It's been more than 40 years since I first picked up a barbell and in that time I have made virtually every mistake one can. At times I have tried to train with weights that were far too heavy for me to properly use. I have done marathon workouts like I read about in the magazines. I have changed my program too often. You name it I have done it and I can say with no fear of being wrong so has every other person who has spent any time with the iron!

However looking back I believe the biggest mistake I ever made was one that cost me several years to correct! Yes you read that right. It took years to make up for this huge mistake I made early on in my training! I am sure I have your attention now so here it is:

I didn't spend enough time building a foundation. Instead of sticking with basic compound movements like squats and bench presses and the like I quickly jumped to using more isolated movements. I read that too many bench presses could over developed the lower chest giving it a more feminine look so I stopped doing them and focused on flies and inclines.

I read that too many squats would build the top of the thighs too much and give you a big butt so I didn't do squats. Since I was a fat kid with an already feminine looking chest and wobbly thighs I was afraid of the results of sticking with those movements. Progress in my first couple years of training was virtually nonexistent. I was trying to shape and refine muscle I hadn't yet built. I gradually lost the fat but there was little muscle when the fat was stripped away. If I had stayed with those big basic movements not only would I have built a solid foundation but the higher amount of calories burnt by using them would have helped to melt the fat away faster.

Once I started training in a real hardcore gym some of the guys took me under their wing and got me back on the basics and told me to forget about all those little exercises until I actually had some muscle to work with. They said to focus on bench press until I could easily handle my bodyweight for several reps and nothing for my legs until I could squat at least 100 LBs over my bodyweight for reps. I would ask, what about this exercise or that one and would get told something like, "when you are getting ready for a bodybuilding contest(which was my ultimate goal) you can do those but that’s a long way away." and they were right of course. Sometimes that kind of bluntness is what you need. It was what I needed for sure.

The lesson is a simple one that most of us find oh so very hard to learn. whether it’s in strength training or learning to play the guitar or mastering ...well anything. Master the basics first and stick with them until you have squeezed everything you can get out of them. Once you are advanced you will find yourself always going back to them. Trust me you will...

By the way it’s my squat day. got to go!

Add new comment