No one is perfect, and no successful athlete has ever gotten to his or her elite level without a few bumps along the way. The one thing that puts seasoned trainers and gym-goers under the same denominator with beginners is mistakes. Everybody makes them; and some are more common than others, no matter how many years of experience you have.
Even the professionals can make errors when trying to build muscle and strength,” Jeff Yellin DPT,CSCS, USA-W, ART, Partner and Regional Clinical Director at Professional Physical Therapy, says. “The key to success in the gym is variability and consistency.” Mistakes are part of a learning curve.[
“It is important when first starting out to establish realistic goals and start slow,” Yellin says. This is hard to do as you are eager to make progress at the beginning, but it’s crucial. “Over time, after building a solid foundation of strength and exercise tolerance, you can then increase the intensities of your workout,” he adds.
You must realize that seasoned athletes did not start out with powerful workouts, but rather built up to them after years and years of conditioning their bodies with increasingly demanding workouts, building their strength with increasing resistances, and perfecting their craft and skill set, Yellin says. So be patient and trust your plan.
Otherwise, injuries abound. Some of the more common ones that athletes and gym-goers experience are overuse injuries such as muscle strains or tendonitis. “These can occur from either a traumatic event, such as trying to lift too heavy of a weight, or from repetitive stress such as lifting a weight too frequently without adequate rest and recovery.”
It is important to understand that gaining strength does not occur in the gym, but rather outside of it. “When lifting weights in the gym, you are actually causing microtears to the tissue and weakening the muscle,” Yellin says. “After your workout is over, the recovery process begins, as the muscles are then rebuilt thicker and stronger with increased efficiency.” Don’t make the mistake of not allowing yourself enough rest time for the muscle to repair itself and adapt. “Your risk of injury goes up, and your potential for gains goes down,” Yellin says.