Here is an article I had about common training mistakes.I though it would be of great interest to some of you.The author is a fairly well known strength coach who works with alot of high-caliber athletes.In order to get through some unusable dialogue and to save you some reading time, I'll just include the relative info.
The Top Seven Ways To F*** Up In The Gym!
by Ian King
*Do only 10-20 work sets per workout.For most people,most of the time,I recommend a range of sets per workout(not per muscle group) of 10-20 sets.That's all.You say you can do more?Great.What is this,a competition to see how many sets you can do,or an attempt to determine the optimal number for your progress?In fact,5-15 sets may be an even better range.
**Never train continously for longer than 12 weeks.I feel that 12 weeks of continuous training is as far as you should take it.Then you should take a full recovery week and avoid strength training.You can,however,participate in other activities-as long as you don't turn the week into some kind of boot camp.Twelve weeks is the uppermost limit of the range,though.For most,I'd recommend shorter training periods of 3,4,6,8, and 9 weeks.
***Avoid assuming that all exercises or muscle groups require equal attention in volume.Have you ever seen a program that gave equal attention,such as the number of sets,to each exercise?I call this program a "standard sets" approach-multiple sets,usually at the same load.(You're probably doing one at the moment.
2.)IGNORING THE WEAKNESS
*The quickest way to improve in virtually any endeavor is to work the weakest link.if you're pursuing an increase in size and strength,find the most neglected muscle group(no matter how small it is!)and work it.Most know and understand this concept,but what most fail to do is put it first in the workout and first in the week.
3.)FAILING TO VARY TRAINING PRIORITIES
*From what I have told you above,the muscle groups that recieve attention first in the training week and first on the training day are the ones that will probably show the most improvement.Consequently,I recommend that you work weak muscle groups first,but equally important is to never use the same muscle group sequence endlessly.Doing so will do two things:reinforce inevitable muscle imbalances that result from any given sequence,and contribute to the stagnation of the neglected muscle groups.
4.)CREATING INJURY POTENTIAL
*There are many ways to reduce the likelihood of this happening(injuries)to you.Most of these preventative measures come from the areas of muscle balance and joint stability.Now,I wouldn't expect you to become an expert overnight,but I'll give some insights into avoiding one of the most common strength-training injuries-shoulder joint pain.
This example will be based on the simple concept that posterior shoulder strength(such as the ability to pull back in a horizontal plane perpendicular to the body,like you might do in rowing movements)should be similar to the anterior shoulder strength(such as the ability to push away in a horizontal plane perpendicular to the long axis of the trunk,like you might do in a bench press).I call this horizontal pulling and pushing, and every exercise in this plane of movement,be it a single- or double-joint movement,is placed in one of these two categories.
Now count how many exercises and sets you do for pulling and pushing in each training week or microcycle.Are the numbers equal?If not,which dominates?If you're doing more pushing than pulling movements,you're headed toward trouble.Secondly,consider the sequence of these exercises-does the pushing or pulling appear earlier in the training week or training day?If pushing movements recieve equal prioritization,however,chalk up another item on the list of things you're doing right.
5.)MISINTERPRETING "TRAINING HARD"
*Strength training for size and strength should be used as an anaerobic activityo a work set,rest;do a work set,rest.At the end of the workout,you should only feel smashed some of the time,not all the time!Strength training,if used correctly,is one of the few sporting activities with significant anabolic potential.Used otherwise,it can be as catabolic as any other type of training.
The key to this is the well-known but rarely understood relationship between volume and intensity.If the total work time exceeds a certain critical point, the anabolic potential follows the intensity potential....downward.
*I just finished telling you to back off.Now I am going to tell you that most strength training is conducted with inadequate intensity.Contradictory?No.Mistake number 5 referred primarily to excessive volume.Now I'm talking about inadequate intensity.What I recommend is a low number of sets and a short time in the gym, but with a high level of focus.I believe that,in strength training,intensity is more important than volume.
7.)LIFTING TO IMPRESS
*I would say that most load selection in strength training is based upon what impact it will have on those watching,not what impact it will have on the body.Think about it-30 seconds of glory.It's too bad that,while walking on the beach and seeing someone they want to impress,these same muttonheads can't pull the same weights out of their pockets and impress in the same way.These are the same guys who wear t-shirts that say "Yesterday I benched xxx pounds."Ever wonder why so many want to tell you how much they lifted?Because you could never tell by just looking at them!
Lifting heavy is great-if it makes a difference!The key is to learn how to make a difference to the body with a slow and controlled movement, and then progressivly add resistance! -Ian King
-Like I said, that's just the meat and potatoes of it.The entire article can be found at T-Mag.