I get asked at least twice weekly to "check out" a workout program.
I also see tons of BS on social media with terrible exercise selection and people ego-lifting trying to re-invent the wheel.
Good training is not complicated.
Here are 4 major mistakes I see people make in their training that stunt their results.
#1 Terrible exercise selection
This one has two parts; Pointless exercises and dangerous exercises.
One, you are wasting your time.
The other is just a matter of time until you get hurt.
#1 Rule when designing workouts or exercise selection is: DO NO HARM
It comes down to risk vs. reward.
There is almost always a simpler way to achieve the desired outcome. Most people only need a few (2-3) quality exercises to target a muscle. Stop worrying about what angle to do your curls at, and just do a simple curl well. Stop trying to position yourself to do a special "glute" exercise, and just squat well. Also, hate to break it to you, but sumo anything is a horrendous way to "target" your glutes. In 2021 Coratella et al. looked at sumo vs. multiple other squat variations. They found that a standard squat, especially front squats, offered more glute max activation than a sumo position measured by EMG and force plate. (1)
Here are my top 3 biggest offenders for wasting time
Sumo squats and sumo deadlifts
Any glute kickback with a cable or kick out.
Wide grip anything for back (lat) exercises
Next are the dangerous exercises. Just stop if you do any of the below.
Squat jumps or jumping for conditioning.
Jumping off of a box, after a box jump up.
Running to lose weight.
Anything that requires you to balance on an object
Any Olympic lift for high reps or time
Stretching your lower back if it feels tight
For every single one of these, there is a better option that offers far less risk. There is minimal reward in any of these exercises; you're guaranteed to get sore knees and a sore back. If you want to burn calories from exercise (which will not lead to long-lasting results), just walk and enjoy time with yourself, your family, friends, or a dog.
Also, I hate to break it to you, but your fat doesn't care how "hard" something is. Your fat doesn't care if you had to "work" for it. Typically, when you push something to an extreme, there is a response metabolically in the other direction, which we Weill get into another time.
#2 Not Adjusting Volume
Volume = reps x weight x sets
Volume also means the total amount of miles covered in the running world.
If you do not change or increase volume, your muscles will not develop. Volume works in tandem with intensity. If you go too high with both, you get hurt.
Your volume needs room to progress over the coming weeks and months. You can't continue to do the same thing and expect a change. With successful training, there is typically an increase in volume week after week. (Usually incremental)
Followed by a period to de-load and let volume come down to recover fully.
(usually about 1 week or workout cycle).
If you are going through a workout program or ramping things up in the new year. Typically by the time you feel the negative consequences (joint pain, fatigue, lethargy, plateau). You missed your chance to de-load properly.
Workouts shouldn't be 2 hours with 5+ exercises per muscle group.
There is nowhere to progress from here, and that amount of volume leads to injury. In lifting, this is knee pain, wrist pain, and rotator cuff injuries. You never end up getting results because your body never has a chance to adapt or recover. That same SRA curve from above is flat or negative.