Contrary to popular belief these three training techniques are doing absolutely nothing for your strength, size, or athletic performance.
I can’t tell you how many times I’m in the middle of coaching and think to myself:
“Man! If only I knew in high school what these kids know right now, who knows how my athletic career would’ve ended up…"
You see, most of the athletes I work with are 14-18 year-olds, which is the very age range in which I made almost every conceivable training mistake. Because the resources available to me were muscle magazines and “bodybuilders” at my local gym, I wasted a lot of my physiological potential on erroneous training methods that did nothing to improve my athletic performance.
In order to set the record straight, I’ve broken down a few of the most common training myths and mistakes out there. Avoid the list below and you’ll take your training, and game, to the next level:
Mistake #1: Training to Failure
While training to failure is undoubtedly a hot topic of debate in the strength industry, there are two scenarios in which I feel it is non-negotiable (to train to failure)
a) If you’re a beginner (and remember, no one is as advanced as they really think they are)
In the initial stages of lifting, it’s paramount to learn optimal biomechanical alignment during the compound lifts, as it will set you up for future success. If you practice sound technique, you’ll be able to handle heavier loads - thus, becoming a stronger, faster, and more powerful athlete - without the expense of an injured back, shoulder, or knee.
b) If you’re a competing athlete
I don’t think most people realize how taxing it is to the CNS (central nervous system) to train to failure on a regular basis. Between practices, games, speed/agility work, crime fighting, etc., you’ll only hinder your recovery process by training to failure. Even if you’re just a weekend warrior trying to get into better shape, you won’t be able to train as frequently if you’re burning yourself out each lifting session. Remember, your training should make you faster, stronger, and leave you feeling charged up and ready to “kick down the doors” of the playing field. Constantly grinding out reps only delays your recovery process.
Mistake #2: Doing 3 sets of 10 on E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g
Most educated strength coaches already understand this is a major mistake in training, but I’m remain astounded by the number of people I see repping out 3x10 on the bench press and curl rack every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
For one, very few people possess the mental capacity to execute ten QUALITY reps on the compound lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift, etc.). I’d rather see an athlete perform six sets of five (still 30 total reps) with intensity and focus than just going through the motions for three sets of ten. The former will provide you with a much greater stimulus for strength and size than the latter.
The human body possesses a remarkable ability to adapt to its imposed demands (in this case, a given load lifted for three sets of ten reps). If you’ve been doing three sets of ten chinups for the past few months, try adding some weight and reducing the number of reps per set to give your strength and power development (or lack thereof) a swift kick to the butt.
Mistake #3: Body part Split Training for Athletic Performance
Look, I don’t think anyone will argue that strength and conditioning programs for athletes should be designed on physiological basis. As Alwyn Cosgrove so eloquently put it:
“Part of the word 'physiological' is the word 'logical' and I argue that there is very little logic to body part splits. Body part splits are geography, not physiology!”
So how about training your body based on what it does, instead of what part it is? As your body functions and moves as a unit (as opposed to segmented parts), it only makes sense to avoid body part splits in athletic programs.
It’s very difficult to classify exercises by muscle groups anyway. For example, take the classic lunge. Most people will quantify this movement as a “quad” exercise, but your hips, glutes, lower back and abs, will have to maximally contract to prevent your knee from collapsing inward and your torso from tipping over. Your hamstrings also become involved to a greater degree if you lengthen your stride.
The more muscle groups you’re able to work in unison doing compound exercises and total body programming, the better off you’ll be athletically, and aesthetically.
While we’ve touched on three common training myths that you’ve probably seen repeatedly in your favorite fitness magazines, we’ll expose many more in the second edition of Training Myths Exposed.