Strength training is the use of some form of resistance in training that will ensure that you develop your strength and build muscle. This resistance could be weights, resistance bands and even your own body weight (calisthenics and plyometrics). Strength training setbacks can become common if you’re not aware of some of their causes.

When you are starting out your strength training journey, there are many things that could set you back, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or even advanced in strength training. There will always be things that can set you back in achieving your goals.

The current pandemic is one which has been a major setback, especially for those that don’t have other means of training besides using their own bodies. This is not about worrying about things we cannot control, but rather about how to react to the external forces that shape your fitness journey, mainly in your strength training.

1. Listening to the Wrong Advice

I am sure that we have fallen victim listening to the wrong advice, which has lead to lessons being learned the hard way. When I started strength training for rugby, I was all about getting big and strong, all because I listened to the wrong people and I had found myself being too big for my body, becoming slow and sluggish, honestly not even strong actually.

The best way to truly get the right advice is to look at the person you’re receiving the advice from and ask yourself if they have or are achieving what you want to achieve. If they aren’t, do they have the qualifications to give out credible advice to what you’re looking to achieve.

It can be the experience or qualification, but both is an ideal situation for the right person to listen to. This will help you achieve your goals a lot quicker than riding it out on your own. It will also help you prevent lost time and the pain that comes learning lessons the hard way.

These people must have gone through their own setbacks, therefore can prevent you from going through the same in strength training.

2. Not Doing Your Own Research and What Works for You

Everyone has their own preferences and this comes with some bias as to what they would think is best for your body to achieve the goals that you had in mind. This is why it is important to do your own research, try things out and see what works for you, especially if you are beginner.

All of our bodies are different, some of us have underlying issues that we’ve overlooked therefore some exercises won’t work for us as they would for other people. Take time to get know your body, your goals and how best to achieve them.

This comes with a lot of trial and error, but nonetheless, your body will be grateful for it and strength training will be more enjoyable because you will be doing what works for you anyway. Websites that I always look to when I want to do more research are Healthline, MyFitnessPal and American Council on Exercise, but I also listen to friends that are qualified health professionals.

3. Training Without Proper Exercise Form

Form is the way that you do an exercise to ensure that you are working the intended muscle group, but it also should be correct to prevent you from injuring yourself.

Many strength training exercises that are highly effective are also highly risky, therefore they require near perfect form. A couple examples of these exercises are squats, deadlifts, bench press and military press. They are known as compound exercises because they work more than one muscle group of your body and this is why they are also highly effective in helping you get stronger.

There are many YouTube vidoes, Fitness Instructors, Biokineticist and Personal Trainers that can help with ensuring the proper exercise form. A big problem in the fitness industry is people not willing to look or ask for help when they don’t know or want to improve on something.

We are all out here to learn and learning the proper form for exercises could be the first step to take before you even start lifting the weights otherwise you are putting yourself in a situation that may cause strength training setbacks.

4. No Progressive Overload

Strength training is usually accompanied by the goal of getting stronger or building/maintaining muscle. When you want to build muscle you have to increase intensity to force your muscles to undergo micro tears that will repair and make them grow with the development of new cells in the area.

You must adapt to your body’s growth in muscle size and strength by lifting heavier, lifting more frequently or increasing the amount of reps per set, because the more you lift, the stronger you’ll get and the less effective the weights you started with will be.

A progressive overload does this, therefore try to ensure that every week you increase the weight or reps of the exercises you do for your strength training routine to be more effective in the long run and not be setback.

5. Inconsistent Strength Training Routine

The strength training goals you have may come with their own uncontrollable setbacks, such as pain/injury, pandemic lockdowns or being financially straining and this is where consistency plays an important role. Consistency helps you develop a habit that ensures that no matter what situation you’re in, you’ll ensure that you train regardless of it.

You must have clearly defined strength training goals that are easy to plan for, you must do your research, get the useful advice and practice perfect form.

You must ensure that you do not chop and change between routines every week as different ones may lead to different results, you could be working on strength the one week, muscle growth the next and then muscular endurance another time.

This is why it is recommended that you follow your routine for at least 4 weeks, measure your progress and see if you should continue with it or change in certain areas to improve your results in the next block.

6. Not Measuring Progress

A bad thing to do when you’re doing any sort of training is not measuring your progress. If you’re looking to get stronger, are you lifting heavier with your routine? If you want to build muscle, are you getting bigger muscles? Or do you want to lose fat and reveal more muscles, are you leaner when you look in the mirror?

Not measuring progress can lead to you following a routine that isn’t doing you any good and it can be a disappointingly long road in your strength training journey. Whatever program you use, there must be a means of measuring if it is working for you and you must make sure of that.


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