If you've been training for a decent amount of time, you've made some mistakes. It's part of the process. But doing your homework can definitely save you some time and energy.
It would be nice if there existed a simple answer or method to get us to our goals in the shortest possible time, but in reality we have to spend time under the bar and learn what makes our unique profile tick. With that in mind, here are some things to avoid, some things to think about, and some ideas to try out.
1 – Sometimes less is more.
Try time-capping your training sessions at 60 minutes. Training for longer than 60 minutes might decrease serum testosterone levels and increase cortisol, at least if you're hitting it hard and not taking 20-minute rest breaks between sets.
2 – Identify and stick to a goal.
If you have training ADD then you've probably felt like your goals change biweekly. Avoiding this mistake is important if you're ever going to make progress. Pick your goal and stick to it for at least 12 weeks and then reassess.
The same goes for programs. It's easy to get distracted by the "next best thing," but that can lead to never knowing if a program is actually the right fit for you. Within 3-4 weeks you should be able to tell if that's the case, but rotating programs weekly or biweekly won't serve this purpose.
3 – Narrow your exercise choices.
Today we have access to a lot of info, and that can be a handicap. We overthink what exercises to perform. Your workout will be much more efficient if you narrow it down to 4-5 movements and call it day. Your session should consist of a core lift, two to three accessory movements, and some direct ab work.
4 – Realize that not all experts are really experts.
Access to information comes very easily on the internet, and if you have a great physique you're an "expert." Do your homework on the people you're taking advice from. Having a great physique doesn't mean you're qualified to write individual training programs.
5 – Avoid the "one size fits all" approach.
Having a one-size-fits-all program would make life easier, but unfortunately this just isn't the case. Even if you have a coach, you have to experiment and find out where you're weakest. Even the best coach may not be able to figure that out. Trying a program you found online is okay, but remember that just because a program worked for your friend doesn't mean it'll be the right fit for you.
6 – Do the boring work.
Many lifters avoid the work they need the most because it doesn't look cool on paper. That could be unilateral work, sled work, or weighted carries. This work goes a long way for everyone, regardless of your current level of experience. You're only as good as your weakest link. If you don't spend time building your base and bringing up your lagging muscle groups, you run the risk of injury. This work should be as high of a priority as anything else you do.
7 – Always be a student.
We're never done learning. As much as we know, there will always be people that know more. Find experts that know more than you do. Study their work, read their books, and experiment. Successful lifters know that they don't know everything.