Two Common Strength-Training Mistakes

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A buddy tells you that during her last workout, she performed 100 crunches and 75 bent over dumbbell rows, in record time.  Impressive?  Well yes, you have to admire this person’s mental and physical stamina.

At the gym, you notice a guy going 100 miles an hour on the leg extension machine.  But is this the best way to train?

There’s good reason to say that the answer is no.

Performing 100 crunches may add strength to your abs, but I can think of many other core moves that are way more effective with way fewer reps, and target your total core, including your back.  And here’s a bonus:  Less reps mean less time working out.

If your goal is to burn fat and increase cardiovascular fitness, it’s very important to get the heart rate up, and there are plenty of good workouts that achieve this.  However, performing quick, excessive repetitions  greatly increases the likelihood that you’re sacrificing form and relying too much on momentum.  And if your form isn’t correct, not only isn’t the exercise very effective, it also isn’t real safe.  There must be good form, above all else.

Should you never lift to failure?  Well, I didn’t say that….Instead, try incorporating heavier resistance for fewer reps.  For instance, lift as much as you can for 8 to 10 reps with good form.   And perform those reps at a pace where you can focus on the muscles you’re working, making a mind-body connection. (Ladies, you won’t bulk up!)  If you’re a beginner at strength training, you may want to begin with a more moderate weight load for 15 reps, to start.

To sum up:  It’s great to want to ramp up the effectiveness and intensity of your workouts, but excessive reps aren’t necessary.  In fact, they are less effective and less safe.  Also, make sure your speed isn’t compromising good form.

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