ten ways to break yourself with training

1)   No plan. Turning up, or just ‘gymming’ is great way to burn hours doing random ‘nothingness’, or as we like to call it ‘undirected training’. It makes no gains and you’re likely to pick up an injury through unconsciousness, repetitive exercise. Pointless. Have a monthly plan!

2)   Very bad form. I mean really bad form. Thinking you’re lifting 50 kgs with your biceps, when you’re really just arching your back (and groaning) smashes your back and your biceps stay teeny tiny. Drop the size of the weight and learn some decent form. Learn how it feels and looks to use just your biceps, without cheating.

3)   Doing the same thing everyday. For instance, habitually heading out the door for your favourite 10k loop achieves little else except route familiarity. Challenge your physiology by ringing the changes with split days, fartlek and hill sessions, and put your legs under different stressors.

4)   Owning a heart rate monitor and not understanding how to use it. If your aim is to become leaner, it makes sense to train to burn fat. That means training at range you know will burn fat for you. This means getting a proper sports physiology assessment (e.g. lactate threshold testing) if you wish to use it properly, rather than using your monitor as a way to impress your mates or down the pub, with you latest, highest beat-per-minute count. All the gear, no idea.

5)   Following the herd. Just because your mate lifts better than Geoff Capes, doesn’t mean you have to. Your girlfriend won’t think any the less of you, if you can’t bench press 200Kg. She might, however, be seriously unimpressed at coming to visit you in hospital, when you blew that disc. Lower the total weight, get strict form, set yourself a goal or target that is individual to you. Train to achieve your goal, not Geoff’s or anyone else’s.

6)   Getting your nutrition very wrong, even in basic terms. It’s not rocket science, we’re meant to eat, eat well, and eat at the right time, particularly when training. Swapping out all your meals for three, lime-green coloured, wheat grass laiden drinks, is not a long term way to rebuild and power your body.

7)   Lack of periodisation in your training.  Your body needs variety and you need to train your whole body, cyclically. In other words, you need easy days, hard days, heavy loading, balance, arms work, leg work etc. Doing the same thing every day, simply means you get good at doing the same thing. It’s a bit like practising for the same spelling test. Everyday.

8)   Not sleeping. Why do we act surprised, that our bodies need rest? We are more than happy to push ourselves with hard training, but then we refuse to honour the recovery time of sleep, which is when our physiological adaptation takes place. Result? Injury and overtraining. Answer? Get a few early nights in. Alone.

9)   Avoiding discomfort. We’re talking about learning to ‘screw the nut’, or as Voigt (breakway cycling pro) would say, ‘shut up legs!’ If you want to improve, you have learn to embrace a little pain (in the non-injury sense). Learn to lean in.

10) Failing to enjoy your successes. For example, crossing the finishing line at an iron man, and ten minutes later, signing up for next. Or even worse, failing to appreciate the amazing autumnal colours of the trees or the vista from the top of Alpe D’Heuz. This means learning to be in the moment, and actually ‘experiencing’ it. (It’s ok wear the medal in bath, but you don’t have to get the tattoo or the logo’ed flip-flops).

Andrew Jenner is a functional osteopath, who believes in effective training and common sense. Learn more about how he works, by clicking here: