Written by: Aaron Whitten

You go to the gym more times in one week than you go to church in a year, you watch every gram of food entering your mouth and you get more excited about hitting your next fitness goal than getting a raise at work. Sound familiar? Such fanaticism should guarantee success, right? Only if you pair it with some essential factors. Hard work isn’t always enough, you must also insure that your effort is pointed in the right direction. Here are some common mistakes made by even the most diligent trainees, check to make sure you aren’t committing any of them!

  1. Training too often: You can’t work too much, right? Wrong! Recovery is highly individual and related to your goals and workload. More is not always better. If you are training to improve a very specific skill, such as the Olympic lifts, then perhaps you require two sessions daily to engrain new neural pathways. But if you are going 110% on sled drags and bag drills, three times weekly may suffice.
  2. Training too seldom: Make sure you aren’t kidding yourself either though. Listen to your body and the advice of your trainers but make no mistake, you simply have to put in the time to reap the benefits. It’s unlikely that anything will be accomplished with fewer than two workouts weekly, no matter the intensity.
  3. Switching routines constantly: We have all heard about ‘confusing the body’ and varying stimuli but the truth is that you must consistently practice what you wish to improve. If you have already sufficiently trained toward your specific goal that day or week and have energy for more then explore other modalities. Just make sure it is never at the expense of your primary goal. For instance, rope jumping will improve your conditioning but if you want to punch faster and harder you will need to do just that: punch harder and faster often.
  4. Never switching routines: So you found the routine you really like and have faithfully stuck to it for months or years, what’s the problem? If you have been progressive with it (see #5) then maybe nothing. But most folks repeat the same workouts out of comfort, not efficiency. Step out of the box and enter your fear zone occasionally. Doing so will stimulate your mind as well as your body.
  5. Lack of progression: The body grows and improves according to the stress imposed upon it. This means if you do the same routine today that you did last time there is no need for further adaption. You have to give it a reason to change. Adding muscle, burning fat and enhancing neural efficiency comes at a high metabolic price; the body will never succumb to it without overwhelming reason. You simply must do something different and harder than you did before in order to see change. A few more reps, seconds or pounds separates the champions from also-rans.

Nothing in fitness is guaranteed. If you want to be the best you can possibly be you must ask yourself if you are truly doing everything necessary to succeed. Periodically return to these five points to insure that you aren’t committing any fitness sins before complaining of your lack of results. Training hard isn’t always enough, you must also train smarter.