Stop Focusing on What You Don't Have to Train
You don't need a fully-equipped home gym to keep the gains coming, says Cavaliere—all you have to do is take advantage of the stuff around you. Countertops, tables, staircases, doorways can provide adequate alternatives to equipment when you're working out in quarantine.
Similarly, Cavaliere points out that often, when training at home without equipment, some people tend to overcompensate by attempting exercises that are beyond their current level of ability. Rather than pushing for difficulty, simply focusing on achieving the correct form in moves like the pushup will be a lot more productive for building muscle.
Mistake #1 Neglecting the Posterior Chain in Your Home Training
All too often, home workouts refrain from sufficiently training the back, and the aforementioned absence of equipment makes this a bigger problem. "Your back is one of the biggest areas in your entire body, and it needs a great deal of attention," says Cavaliere. "Forgetting to train it just because you don't have the obvious options at your disposal doesn't make it acceptable."
While you're likelier to do pull-ups, rows, or pulldowns when you stumble across the equipment in a gym, it's far too easy for those moves to slip your mind at home when you don't have access to the same equipment. But overlooking the smaller muscles in your back can lead to all kinds of problems with your posture—especially if you're spending a ton of time sitting—as only training your front creates a muscle imbalance.
Mistake #2 Using Fixed Rep Counts to Work Out
Following a prescriptive approach to programming (i.e. setting a certain number of sets of reps) isn't particularly useful, says Cavaliere, as each individual has differing levels of ability, and you won't necessarily be taking yourself to the limit required to create real gains.
"Instead of fixed rep counts, focus more on training to failure on this specific day," he advises. "Because that can actually vary from day to day. If you take failure as your guideline, you're basically providing yourself with a number that's actually accurate when it comes to creating overload."
If you do want to keep using fixed rep counts, then Cavaliere recommends training to failure or adding a time limit to your workout.
Mistake #3 Forgetting to Include Variety in Your Workouts
"Exercise variety is what actually creates the overload, because it applies a different stress to your body," says Cavaliere. Using the example of the pushup again, he demonstrates how performing different variations of a single move can have different effects on the body.
Additionally, simply repeating the same workouts over and over again will lead to diminishing returns, as there is no progression: mixing up your moves, adjusting your rest times, and adding time limits to sets are all ways to keep adding that stimulus in the muscles.
Mistake #4 Prioritizing Cardio Over Strength Workouts
A lot of the time, home workouts consist almost entirely of cardio moves rather than strength moves. And while cardio moves have their place, Cavaliere believes they should be confined to your conditioning workout if what you're looking for is muscle growth.
"If you want to build muscle, you need to focus less on cardio moves," he says. "It becomes more of a HIIT effect than a strength-building effect." The most effective way to build strength at home is by doing exercises which create muscle fatigue within seconds, rather than minutes.
Mistake #5 You Don't Make Training a Part of Your Daily Routine
For many, going to the gym is simply a part of their daily schedule, something they do on their way to or from work. For others, training with a workout buddy adds a social element, along with a sense of accountability. All of these things have fallen by the wayside since we began self-isolating, and we've lost that accountability.
It's more important than ever to carve out a set time for exercise in your day-to-day, and stick to it. Not only will you feel the physical benefits from keeping up with your workouts, but it can bring some much-needed structure to days which, lets be honest, are starting to blur together.
Mistake #6 Picking the Wrong Room
Cavaliere advises that you avoid the most comfortable room in your house. You might be too easily distracted if you're surrounded by your comfortable couch and TV, and that's a recipe for skipped sessions. Apartment dwellers—best of luck in your small spaces. Try creating a dedicated space for your training to get into the right mindset.
Mistake #7 Repeating the Same Workout Again and Again
If you do the same thing over and over, you eliminate progression. Once you eliminate progression, you eliminate your chances to improve and advance to challenge your muscles in new ways to challenge your muscles to stimulate growth.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health