The Biggest Mistake You’re Making?

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I’ve had a few people contact me within the past week or so asking me if I’d be down with doing an informal Q and A for their blog/website – similar to what I’ve done in the past with both Bret Contreras and Nia Shanks (to name a few). As it so happens, one main question that seems to reverberate time and time again is this one:

Q: Tony, how is it that you know the answers to life’s most daunting questions: How to differentiate between a muscular issue and capsular issue with regards to hip internal rotation? What programming contraindications do you take (if any) with someone who exhibits excessive glenohumeral external rotation? What’s your beef with leg curls? And, more importantly, how is it you can deadlift 570 lbs AND you’re so sexy that when you flex your pecs they turn to diamonds?

Answer Key:

– Test hip IR in the supine position. If it sucks, test it in the prone position. If it improves, you can determine it’s more of a muscular issue (good news). If it’s still stinks, you can ascertain it’s more of a capsular issue and………………’re screwed (kinda).

– Steer clear of things like side lying extension-rotations, etc

– They suck.

– Magic

Alright you’re not that gullible, but one question that does come up quite often is:

What do you feel are some of the biggest mistakes that most trainees make?

Oh man, where do I begin? While I could easily go off on a few tangents (following body part splits, doing 3×10 on everything, ignoring the importance of foam rolling, playing into their own movement dysfunctions, etc), the one that really feel hits the nail on the head for 90% of the people out there is the fact that most have no freakin clue what the hell they’re doing.

Now before everyone starts tapping away and sending their hate mail, let me explain. What are your goals? Why do you go to the gym each and every day? For most of you, I’m willing to bet your answer is somewhere between “uh, just because” to “make people destroy the back of their pants from the gun show!”

More to the point, on one end of the spectrum you have those who can’t pick a goal and stick with it for any length of time. One month they want to go on a hard core “fat loss” plan. The next they want to focus more on strength because they read some kick-ass article online that promises to increase they’re bench by 333% in two days. Even worse are those who seem to flip-flop on a week-to-week basis, in what can only be described as program ADD.

As a result, you have someone who rarely (if ever) makes any significant progress, never gets chicks to want to hang with them, and ends up spending his Friday nights alone hanging out at Starbucks reading Harry Potter. Basically you’re me.

Conversely, you have those who don’t pick a goal at all, and seemingly wander around the gym like a social butterfly. As an example, I was training at a local commercial with my girlfriend last week and couldn’t help but watch this woman go through her “workout.” To start, I couldn’t tell if she was contemplating what to do or trying to remember whether or not she had left her coffee maker on.

Either way, she stood there for a good five minutes before she actually moved. She did a few squats here, a few arm circles there, right foot in, right foot out, did the hokey pokey, turned herself around, and got on the elliptical. Sigh.

In cases like this, I prefer to fall back on an ingenious quote from Dan John:

Your goal is to keep the goal, the goal.

Predictably, it kinda makes sense to have a goal in the first place.

For the love of god, pick a goal and attack that mofo!!!!!! I don’t care, it could be something as simple as “get to the gym four times per week no matter what,” or something as specific as “increase my deadlift by 25 lbs.” At least it’s something. Trust me, there’s nothing that lights a fire under your own ass more than actually having a goal to train for.

Close to two years ago, I decided I wanted to do an experimental six-week “Tony Gets Sexifed” project where the goal was to get as lean as I could in that time frame. I wrote the program, my good friend Jen Heath wrote the diet, and six weeks later I was, well, kinda hot. Sorry no pics, but I promise if I do it again (which I’m thinking about doing after the Holidays), I’ll document it on the blog.

The point is, I had a goal in mind and it made all the difference in the world.

And even for those who are stubborn SOBs and are adamant in not having a long-term goal, do yourself a favor and pick a goal for that day. It can be anything. Something along the lines of “I’m not leaving until I hit “x” number of chin-ups today.” Or, “I’m going to attempt a squat PR.” Or, “I’m going to try a new exercise today that I’ve never done before.”

Who cares – it’s a goal. And it’s a helluva lot better than not having a clue what you’re doing that day.

So, to summarize:

1. Don’t be a jerk. Pick ONE goal and give it an honest go. Take six weeks and do it, 100%.

2. At the very least, pick a goal for the day. Give your training a sense of purpose.

3. Marissa Miller is hot.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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