Diet & Exercise: The dos, don’ts of lifting

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 15, 2018

Two weeks ago, we learned the importance of weight training and how it protects and strengthens.

Last week, we reviewed how to begin a weight training regimen.

This week, I’d like to share a few dos and don’ts when performing strength training. I teach these fitness “rules” whether I’m training beginners, intermediates, advanced or even when I’m teaching other personal trainers.

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First, let’s go over some of the don’ts:

Don’t get your exercise routine from a book, magazine, or buddy.

Books, magazines, tapes and DVDs do offer some exercise information, but unfortunately, it’s usually incomplete or just incorrect. Also, you can’t discuss your exercise situation with tapes, and books when you have questions.

When it comes to receiving exercise tips from friends…bad idea! They might participate in an exercise routine that works for them, but they are not you.

Every individual is different, so the same program won’t work for everyone. I have no two clients on the same program.

Also, your friend might be a good exerciser, but they’ve not been trained on specifics of exercise nor how to properly teach it.

Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

You’re probably going to have times when motivation is low and occasions when your exercise progress seems to plateau or slow, but don’t worry, that’s common. What you should remember is progress that comes more slowly, lasts much longer and that exercise consistency is even more important than exercise effort. Stay with it, and you’ll be rewarded by coming off that fitness plateau and begin making real progress again.

Don’t overtrain

This is an area I commonly deal with when working with advanced clients. Overtraining is even worse than undertraining, and here’s why. Bear in mind, rest is the glue that holds your exercise routine together. Your muscles don’t actually tone, tighten and strengthen while you’re exercising, but rather hours later while you sleep.

Remember, to attain fitness and strength can be compared to making a pie with three equal pieces…exercise, nutrition and rest. If your exercise piece is too large, it makes your rest piece small.

Don’t do the same exercise routine forever

It’s so easy to get in a rut, isn’t it?

Problem is, your body gets used to the same exercises after a while, so your regimen needs to be changed up a bit to maintain progress in your strength training. Trick is to know when and how to do it (this is where an experienced trainer is of benefit).

Here are a few weight training dos:

Do stay hydrated before during and after exercise

Remember, muscle is composed of 70-75 percent water, so if you’re dehydrated, it’s like you’re running on flat tires. Also, if you wait until you’re thirsty, there will be down time until your body hydrates.

Do stretch

When I was head strength to the South Carolina state champions girls gymnastic team, my team stretched for 30 full minutes before every practice. When you stretch, you’re not stretching muscle (it won’t stretch), you are extending tendons which hold muscle to bones. The more you stretch, the less chance of injury, cramping and the stronger your muscles and bones will become.

Get plenty of sleep

Trying to lose weight? Think of it this way. Muscle is the enemy of fat, lack of sleep is the enemy of muscle. One study in Brazil found that sleep deprivation decreases protein synthesis causing muscle loss.

Do eat plenty of high quality foods.

Get plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, complex carbohydrates like rice, whole grains and potatoes with their skin, and high-quality protein like fish, chicken, turkey and lean beef. Dairy is OK in moderation if you’re not lactose intolerant.

Bear in mind, to build muscle, you have to feed it.

By the way, one more don’t: don’t give up on yourself. Everyone has set backs, and sometimes  it feels like you can’t make progress.

Stay with it; you can do this and make great strides toward getting in shape and staying fit. Remember, slow and steady wins this race.

David Crocker, of Landrum, has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 31 years. Diet or exercise question? Email him at or text him at 864-494-6215.