10 Common Gym Mistakes And How You Can Avoid Making Them
Everybody’s been the new guy/girl in the gym at some point. And we’ve all made mistakes.
I’m no exception. In fact, I’ve made just about every mistake on this list at one time or another. But, I’ve learned from them and now I want to help you to avoid making these common gym mistakes.
1. Too much, too soon
If you’re like me, when you decide to do something, you go at it 100%. You decide that you want to get in shape, so you join a gym, throw out all your junk food, and fill your room with motivational photos.
There’s nothing wrong with getting excited about fitness. But, you need to pace yourself. Getting in shape is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.
You really need to ease into it. If you go too hard at first, you’re gonna burn yourself out in no time. I know you want to look like a fitness model yesterday, but getting in shape takes time.
You’ll get much better results by taking it slow at first. Your workouts should still be challenging. But if you work out too hard, your body won’t be able to keep up.
2. Not enough variation
This is a mistake that I see a lot of new gym goers doing. I was guilty of this myself at one point. My routine consisted of the same exercises in the same rep ranges. I made progress at first but stalled out quickly.
You need to mix it up a little bit. Not too much, but we’ll get to that in a minute. To get the best results, you need some variation.
There are some exercises that are great and should be performed regularly. Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench press should be done frequently. But isolation exercises, like bicep curls, should be mixed up.
I recommend mixing it up every workout. If I’m working my arms, one workout I’ll do standing dumbbell curls, seated barbell curls, and some machines. Then, the next time I do arms, I’ll do dumbbell concentration curls, standing barbell curls, and some machines.
Doing this keeps your body from getting used to the same old routine, day after day. And it also helps you stay interested, by keeping things fresh.
3. Too much variation
I see a lot of people new to the gym making this mistake, too. They mix it up too much.
There are some exercises that you should try to do at least once a week. These are your compound exercises, like bench press, squats, and deadlifts. Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time. They’re great for building muscle and burning calories.
Some variation is good. You want to mix things up a little bit each workout. But make sure to hit at least one big compound lift for each muscle group, every workout.
4. Using bad form
It’s very important that you learn proper form for each exercise. By using bad form, you will not get the most out of your workouts. And worse, you dramatically increase the chances of getting injured.
I’ll admit, when I first started working out I had no idea what I was doing. Everything I knew about lifting weights I got from muscle magazines and a bodybuilding book I had that was published in the 80’s. My form for almost every exercise was terrible.
But, over time, I started to learn the right way to lift weights. I found tons of information online and I talked to other people in the gym.
Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice in the gym. You may be afraid that they’re gonna think you’re a noob. But, the truth is, most people in the gym absolutely love to help others – especially new people. Even the most experienced fitness experts were beginners at some point.
5. Not tracking your progress
For the first year in the gym, at least, you should record your workouts. You don’t need to write a novel. Just write down the exercise, weight, and reps. That’s all you need.
Doing this will help you track your progress. After a few months, you’ll be amazed at how much stronger you’ve gotten. And, you’ll also be able to see what body parts need more work and which ones are your strongest.
I’m a paper and pen kinda guy. But there are tons of good apps out there to track your progress in the gym.
6. Skipping legs
Guys, I’m talking to you. Stop skipping leg day. You’re gonna regret it.
This is a problem that I only see in men. Women aren’t afraid to blast out a mean leg workout. But, for some reason, a lot of guys are terrified of the squat rack and the leg press.
If you don’t workout your legs, you’re not gonna look good. Period. A big, muscular upper body with thin little chicken legs is not a good look. You’ll look like a strong wind could blow you over at any time.
Legs are easy to work. Squats, leg press, lunges, calf raises, and maybe a few isolation exercises are all you need to do to get big, shredded legs. Don’t be afraid of the squat rack. Squats are your friend. They also help to build a strong core and activate just about every other muscle in your body.
7. Lifting with your ego
I see this all the time. And I’ve been guilty of it more times than I can count.
Ego lifting is when you use way more weight than you should be using. I’m sure you’ve seen this before. The skinny guy doing bicep curls with 50 lb dumbbells. He’s not curling them, he’s throwing them. And he’s only bending his elbows about a quarter of the way.
Don’t do this. You’re not fooling anybody. First of all, nobody cares. No one is going to be like “Holy shit, that 85 lb dude just curled 50 lbs. Did you see that? What a beast!” No one cares. If anything, they’re probably thinking, “It’s gonna be hilarious when that chump snaps his elbows up.”
You want to use heavy weight. You want to challenge yourself. But, you only want to use as much weight as you can do with proper form. If you can’t perform the exercise in the proper rep range with good form, you’re using too much weight. Take it down a notch, Hercules.
8. Neglecting nutrition
Again, I made this mistake for the first couple years I was working out. I wasn’t getting enough protein and I was eating way too many carbs.
Regardless of your diet, you’re gonna make progress in the gym for the first few months at least. But after a certain point, you need to take nutrition into account if you want to keep making progress.
With apps like MyFitnessPal, this has never been easier. You can track every single thing you eat with ease.
There’s a saying in the fitness world: “Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.” This is absolutely true. No workout can undo a bad diet.
If you’re not paying attention to your nutrition, start. Your progress will skyrocket.
9. Only using machines
There’s nothing wrong with machines. They have their place. But that place isn’t your whole workout.
Machines don’t fully activate your muscles. Free weights do. And they should be the core of your workouts.
When you use free weights, like dumbbells and barbells, your body uses stabilizer muscles. It doesn’t need to do this with most machines because they are already stable. You’re just basically pushing or pulling.
I recommend using free weights for the majority of your workouts. I also recommend using them first. Then, towards the end of your workouts, you can incorporate some machines to completely fatigue your muscles. And, make sure to wipe them down when you’re done using them.
10. Too many supplements
Supplements are supposed to do just that: supplement your workouts and nutrition.
I see a lot of younger guys taking up to a dozen different supplements. Some women are guilty of this too.
The truth is, you can get an amazing physique without any supplements. The supplement industry wants you to believe that you need all these products to get in shape – but you really don’t.
Another truth is that most supplements don’t work. Don’t get me wrong – some do. But most others are junk.
Save your money. Spend it on healthy food. A good diet will do more for your body than all the supplements in the world.
We all make mistakes. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes in the gym.
But I’ve learned from them and you will too. Hopefully, this article will help you avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made.
Now, I want to know, what mistakes have you made in the gym? Or what mistakes have you seen other people making? Leave your response in the comments section below!