8 Strength Training Mistakes That Could be Holding You Back
Instructors Erik Jäger and Matty Maggiacomo share how to get the most of your strength classes.
Words By Peloton
You probably already know that strength training is a critical part of any exercise program. Not only does it build strong bones and muscles, but it can also improve your fitness, boost your quality of life, and help manage some conditions, including low back pain, depression, and diabetes.
The Peloton App is loaded with a variety of strength training classes that can help you reach your goals, and Peloton Guide, our TV-connected strength device, makes it incredibly simple to keep an eye on your form during workouts. But it’s still possible to make mistakes when you’re strength training on your own—and those mistakes can slow your progress or even lead to injury.
To help prevent that, we asked Peloton instructors Erik Jäger and Matty Maggiacomo to break down eight of the most common strength training mistakes people make—and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Skipping a warm-up
If you haven’t warmed up, your muscles will be cold, and that could set you up for two problems. First, your range of motion through your joints won’t be as good. “Without that range of motion, you won’t be able to move as fully through the exercises,” Erik says. Secondly, you increase your odds of getting injured. Get warm by doing full-body warm-up moves like squats, spider lunges, and inchworms first.
Mistake #2: Using a weight that’s too heavy
You might have ambitious plans for your strength training, but if you pick up a heavy weight you’re not ready for, you could be risking injury. “If your form is poor or you’re having a hard time getting the weights into your starting position, that’s a major indicator the weights are too heavy,” Matty says. To make sure you’re not lifting too much, use this general rule of thumb: You should be able to complete at least 10 to 12 repetitions of a single exercise in one minute. If that’s not possible, consider decreasing the weight.
Mistake #3: Using a weight that’s too light
Light weights aren’t as big a problem as weights that are too heavy, namely because you’ll at least be able to learn the movement and form and it’s less likely that you’ll injure yourself. But light weights can still hinder your performance, especially if you’re an advanced exerciser, as you may not fatigue the muscles enough to see results, Matty points out. The caveat? If you’re new to strength training, starting with a lighter weight is important so you can learn proper form; as you get stronger, you can progress.
Mistake #4: Skimping on strength training
Are you avoiding strength training workouts? Not a wise idea. “If you’re skipping strength, you’re missing one of the three pillars—cardio, strength, and flexibility—that make up our fitness,” Matty explains. “If you’re missing one of them, the house will cave in.”
Mistake #5: Not stretching after strength training
You may be tempted to save time and skip the stretch after a strength workout, but trust us, it’s worth a few extra minutes. The consequence if you don’t? “You’re going to lose a lot of your natural flexibility,” Matty says. And yup, it also means your muscles could become more prone to injury.
Mistake #6: Never varying your strength program
If you do the same strength training routine day in and day out for months on end, you’ll quit seeing results. As your body gets used to an exercise, it adapts, which essentially means one thing: “It doesn’t have to do as much work,” Matty says.
However, if you keep the body guessing, it’s always working and in turn, getting stronger. You don’t have to change your workouts every single time, but think about changing something in your workout every four to six weeks, Erik suggests. For instance, add a new exercise, change the weight or number of repetitions, or use a different strength training tool (resistance bands, anyone?).
Mistake #7: Pushing through pain
A little discomfort is normal during strength training, but if you’re feeling pain anywhere in your body, you need to stop, Matty says. Remember, pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong, and if you continue to exercise through it, you could make any problems worse.
Mistake #8: Not giving your body proper recovery
If you’re not building some recovery into your strength training routine, it’s possible your body will tank, leaving you feeling exhausted or unable to generate power during workouts. So give yourself a break sometimes. If you’re doing full-body strength training one day, Erik suggests taking the next day off from strength training and doing a different activity, such as cardio on your Peloton Tread or Peloton Bike. Or, if you want to do strength training every day, you could do upper body strength training one day, and then lower body the next. Just make sure you’re giving your muscles some well-deserved time off.
Try a strength class on the Peloton App!