I’ve seen some crazy shit in gyms. People doing curls while standing on Bosu balls to someone trying to use dumbbells and the leg press at the same time. I once watched a guy set up numerous boxes, cables, and chains in a rack before attempting to squat about 250kg with the intricate setup. After spending 30 minutes getting it all together, he failed spectacularly, only just avoiding getting completely crushed by the weight, before spending the next 20 minutes putting everything back.
While you might not do anything so silly or dangerous in the gym, you may fall foul of a few common mistakes, especially while dieting. There’s something about weight loss that makes even the sanest weight trainer develop slightly wayward strategies, but a fat loss diet is not the time to try something new if you’re interested in looking good in your birthday suit. Here are five mistakes you might be making in the gym during your weight loss diet.
You’re trying to turn weight training into cardio
I’ve seen this lots of times. People seemingly dedicated to moving heavy iron to get as strong and jacked as possible suddenly switch to doing 20 rep sets with puny weights as soon as they start dieting. Here’s the thing; weight training does burn calories, usually somewhere in the region of 75 to 300kcal per session, but weight training for the calorie burn is missing the point.
When you lose weight, you want to lose fat, which means keeping hold of the muscle you worked so hard to keep, which means training heavy. Cut calories from your diet, and by all means smash it on the assault bike or go for a run, but keep your weight training designed to make you jacked if you don’t want to give up your hard earned gains.
You don’t know what the hell you’re doing
Do you know those guys that turn up to the gym and ask each other what they want to train that day? Don’t be like them. Changing exercises willy-nilly and just doing what you fancy in the gym might feel spontaneous and cool, but it’s the worst idea possible if you actually want to make progress.
As I mentioned in the first mistake, you want your weight training to help you get stronger. That doesn’t happen if you don’t have a plan or any progression in place. There are a tonne of good programs on the internet, and one consultation with a good trainer can set you up for weeks to come. You can be far more laissez-faire with cardio, as all you’re trying to do is burn some cals, but your weight training needs at least a rudimentary plan in place if you want to make the most out of it.
You’re still not listening to me when I tell you not turn weight training into cardio, and you’re using short rest periods to “get more work done”
We all love getting a pump and “feeling the burn” when we lift weights. I’m as susceptible as the next man to a cheeky mirror flex when the mood takes me, but feeling like your muscles are on fire and being out of breath aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. It’s your strength, not your level of exhaustion, that you should be measuring.
There isn’t actually any real difference in how much you feel the burn if you rest for 30, 60, or 120 seconds; but the amount of volume you can complete with the shortest breaks is less then if you rest for longer. That matters. To maintain or build muscle, the amount of volume you perform in a training session is important. If you’re taking shorter rests, but achieving fewer reps, you’re missing out on potential gains and making holding onto the ones you already have more difficult.
You’re training for tone or definition
There is much confusion about what being toned is. People know what it looks like, they just don’t know how to get there. This leads to funny weight training practices and faddy diets all promising that, special, toned look. So let me clear this up.
Getting toned comes from a combo of fat-loss and muscle gain. That’s all. No secret special sauce or training trickery helps get you there quicker than a good old calorie deficit and lifting heavy. Let your diet do the job of shifting the fat, and let the weights take care of the muscle gain, and you’ll have the toned look you’ve been searching for in no time.
You’re trying to train every day
If your training was built on getting in the gym for three or four days a week, don’t suddenly ditch this in favour of trying to smash the weights every day as soon as you start a diet.
Recovery is going to get slightly worse when you’re cutting calories, and actually reducing training volume a bit is a much better idea than adding in a tonne more. Feel free to do some amount of cardio and your usual sport stuff, but try to make the weight training count if you have a bit of weight to lose and you don’t want to burn out. Get in the gym, focus on getting stronger, then get out if you want to make the most of weight training on a diet.
When weight training during your weight loss diet, make sure you have a plan, don’t chase the burn, switch to a “toning” program, or try to turn weights into cardio. Let your diet take care of the fat loss, and aim to get stronger in the gym if you want to look better naked after your diet.
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