You Don’t Use Planned Deload Weeks
One thing that I have figured out through trial and error is that deload weeks are crucial for staying healthy in the weight room. I have also found that when I take deload weeks on a regular basis I enjoy training a little more. To be simplistic, as much fun as it is to hammer away day after day, week after week, month after month, your body needs a break every once in a while. Be smart and take a week to pull things back a bit.
As far as how often you should take a deload week is hard. I find taking a week every 6-8 weeks works best for me. Maybe every 12 weeks works for you or maybe every 4 weeks would work best. I would, however, not recommend taking a week and doing nothing at all. I have found that still going to the gym and performing the same type workout with much lighter weights works best. If you typically bench 225 for 3 sets of 5, drop the weight to 150-175 for 3 sets of 5 reps and move on.
Bilateral and Unilateral Lifting Patterns
This is something that I have been playing around with for the last year or so. Before the last year I would train bilaterally almost 100% of the time, especially when it comes to lower body. Since then I have messed around with making sure that I train movement patterns both bilaterally and unilaterally.
For example, I currently train lower body twice a week. On day one I may squat, RDL, front split squat, and swiss ball leg curl. On day two I may goblet squat, rear foot elevated split squat, glut-ham raise, and single leg RDL. Two knee dominant movements a session and two hip hinges a session. One bilateral movement and one unilateral movement in each one of those sessions – simply but it seems to be effective.
You Don’t Change Rest Periods
Everyone talks about changing the volume and intensity of exercise to ‘keep the body guessing’. As much as I think the thought of ‘keeping the body guessing’ is a load of crap and training hard and heavy with the proven movements will lead to long-term growth and development, I do feel changing up rest periods is useful.
Far too often I see people who have no idea how long they rest between sets and exercises. Time yourself, I bet it is a LOT longer than you may think. Start timing yourself. Go with one minute rest periods for a couple of weeks, then go to two-minute rest periods. Keep changing things up and force your energy systems to adapt.
You Overlook Mobility and Stability Work
As boring as it is, and trust me I find it as boring as you do, performing both mobility and stability work is crucial to staying healthy in the long run.
A few weeks back I had the chance to listen to University of Wisconsin Strength & Conditioning Coach Jim Snider speak at MBSC and thought his take on mobility and stability was simply yet smart – start your ankles and work your way up the body doing mobility work – once you reach the top, come back down the body doing stability and activation work. It’s simply, but a smart way to approach mobility and stability.
You Don’t Address Weaknesses
You need to create balance across your body or you are going to find yourself becoming more and more prone to injuries. The days of benching Monday, Wednesday and Friday and never even thinking about your posterior chain is over. The days of only using the squat rack for curls are over. You need to address your weaknesses and create structural balance across your entire body. Come 20-25 years from now your body will be happy you have created balance.
Training Isn’t Enjoyable
Unless you are an athlete or you compete in some type of competition (powerlifting, marathons, cycling, ect.) you should make your training fun and enjoyable. For example, if you are the type of person that hates benching, then don’t bench. There are other ways to train the bench movement pattern – adjust accordingly. At the end of the day there are more than one way to skin a cat – find what you like best and throw away the things that you don’t like – just make sure you are still creating a balanced training program!