An Expert’s Take on Common Weightlifting Mistakes
by Christina Mann on Apr 15, 2021
Weightlifting is a great way to build muscle mass and increase your metabolism. However, it can also be harmful to your body if not done correctly. Marty Gallagher is an athlete who not only proved successful as a powerlifter, but later as a coach and writer. He has been a great source of inspiration and knowledge to both new and experienced weightlifters.
Gallagher competed on the national level in the United States and later in the International Powerlifting Federation, winning titles and medals in both arenas. In 2013, he briefly came out of retirement to set a raw national record, but continued to stay active in his coaching and writing career. His advice can be found through multiple avenues, including newspaper articles he has published, question and answer sessions, published books, and YouTube videos. Pulling from a variety of these sources, Gallagher has advice for the following three common weightlifting mistakes and how to avoid them.
One mistake Gallagher commonly sees in new lifters is to start with too much weight and burn out quickly. When creating your fitness plan, the goal is to initially find your “work capacity” or the amount that you can successfully lift in a session and then reasonably recover from. Setting the initial bar too high will put too much stress on the body while not allowing for a reasonable recovery time, which often leads to a burnout. After you find the ideal starting point, that work capacity will then move up as you train longer and progress. Finding your initial work capacity might take a little bit of time to establish, but it will be time worth investing to avoid the consequences of overextending your weight limits and burning out.
Another mistake along the same lines is to overtrain your body. How do you know if you are training too hard? If you are ending your workouts with extreme fatigue, or experiencing unusual lethargy, you might be overtraining. Another effect is unusual soreness in your muscles, like being painful to the touch following a workout, or even up to two days after. This type of muscle soreness is far more than necessary during recovery, and can prove detrimental to making continued progress. Gallagher’s advice to offset this issue includes monitoring your recovery closely to ensure you are not experiencing a detrimental level of soreness, increasing calories that will aid in recovery, and getting plenty of rest which will allow time for healing and recovery within your muscle groups.
Another major mistake Gallagher cautions against is not eating enough calories to fuel your workout. While lowering overall calorie intake is often the solution to weight loss and a myriad of other health issues; if you are following this advice while heavily increasing your workload, the body can easily run out of fuel for the workout. The result would be metabolizing muscle tissue for energy, which is counter intuitive to any progress you might make. This would not be a free pass to eat any and all calories you like since you are training hard. This is, however, the perfect opportunity to increase important calories, specifically protein and carbohydrates, that will aid in recovery and provide the energy you need to meet your fitness and weightlifting goals.
Marty Gallagher has a recorded history of success in his own powerlifting career, as well as a proven track record in coaching, with much of his advice being quite simple and easy to implement. Starting too heavy or training to the point of utter exhaustion can lead to burnout and stunt your progress, so start slow and train smart. Also, don’t forget to eat well and often to provide the right fuel to your training session. Whether you are recently beginning your journey into weightlifting, or you have lots of experience, these tips can be helpful reminders to guide you on your journey.