Everybody starts somewhere. I remember the struggles of being a beginner in the gym. Honestly, I think I’ve made almost every mistake you can think of at some point in time.
I had to learn the hard way, but I don’t want you have to go through that. If you’re struggling now, take this as some friendly advice and correction on what you’re doing wrong in the gym. And if you haven’t even started going to the gym, these are mistakes that you need to avoid.
7 Workout Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Doing Too Much Cardio
Ladies! We are the biggest perpetrators of this. I get it. When I used to go the gym sporadically there were so many machines that I didn’t know where to start. I always saw women on treadmills or using some sort of cardio machine so that’s what I thought I had to do to get fit. To make matters worse I would just switch between different cardio machines because I thought they made a difference.
IT’S NOT NECESSARY.
If this sounds like you, I want you to know that no matter what size you are 9/10 cardio is not going to be the answer for you to get in shape. Especially not for a naturally skinny girl like me. Also, hopping on different cardio machines every few minutes doesn’t make much of a difference in your results. It just keeps you from getting bored. The solution?
Grab some weights!
If you really want to get in shape you can never go wrong with weight training. You’ll be able to build muscle and burn fat, and get in amazing shape. And if you still want to do cardio you can incorporate a decent amount without over doing it. Cardio is good for your heart and stamina and burning off some extra calories. So a 20 minute cardio session 2 times a week is good coupled with weight training.
Not Spending Enough Time on One Exercise
This could go two ways and I’ll explain both.
First case scenario is that you set up your machine, do a few reps on it, and then move on to the next one.
The second case scenario is that you actually stay on the machine and do 3 – 4 sets but you go through them really fast.
The problem is the same in both scenarios: you’re not giving your muscles enough time to actually work during the exercise. Unless you’re doing a circuit, you should be doing one exercise for 3 – 4 sets before you move on to the next one. And when you’re doing each set don’t rush through the reps. Move slow and controlled, typically 4 seconds to extend the muscle, a 2 second pause, and 1 second to contract the muscle. This gives your muscles a chance to really work and grow.
For example, in a squat you would typically spend 4 seconds descending, 2 seconds pausing at the bottom and 1 second coming back up.
If you’re rushing through your workout to save time, go for a full body circuit or high intensity interval training instead. I have some really good 20 minute workouts that you can do in a pinch.
Not Checking Your Form
Doing an exercise correctly is so important. Having poor form can cause injuries that could have been easily prevented. But as a new gym goer how do you really know if you have good form in your exercises?
I know you probably don’t want to interrupt someone’s workout to ask them about your form. At least I didn’t. That’s the beauty of technology these days. There’s plenty of YouTube videos on correct form for pretty much any exercise that you want to do.
What I personally did was look up a video on an exercise while I was at home and studied it. Then I would practice at home in front of the mirror. Once I got to the gym and had a general idea of what I should be doing I would try the movement with light weight first and when I felt confident I would do the exercise at a heavier weight.
I recommend that you try that process if you’re not sure if you’re doing the movement correctly. That way you won’t feel foolish in the gym.
If you ever get corrected on your form in the gym don’t feel bad, sometimes it happens to me, even when the person correcting me is wrong! Just listen to them and use your best judgement on if you should take their advice or not.
Not Using Enough Weight
It’s hard to talk about how much weight you should be using in the gym because it’s relative. It really depends on what type of exercise your doing, what your goals are, if you’re training to improve a skill or for aesthetics or for power or endurance. Do you get where I’m going here?
Just know you should take into account how much weight you’re using in your workouts and if it will help you reach your goals.
When I first started lifting weights in order to gain weight and build muscle I always lifted heavy enough so that the last couple of reps in a set were very difficult to do. That’s how I was able to put on size in certain areas of my body aka my legs and glutes. But now that I’ve also gotten into more functional training where I’m focusing on movement, control, and balance I’ve been using lighter weight.
Remember, use what works best for your goals.
Using Too Much Weight
This one goes out to the over achievers like myself. Once I felt more comfortable in the gym I started to try and keep up with the big boys. I tried to lift too heavy too quickly for myself and my form started to become compromised.
If you know this is you, do yourself a favor and stop. You don’t want to end up hurting yourself through ego lifting. Here’s a little lifting tip, it’s not always about lifting as heavy as you can to get bigger stronger muscles. Using proper form, slowing down and having more time under tension is actually more effective than just lifting heavy in itself.
Comparing Yourself to More Experienced Athletes
It’s important to have inspiration and people to look up to. You can even workout with your more experienced friends to get more experience yourself. Just make sure that’s all you’re doing.
Sometimes it’s hard to catch yourself when you’re comparing yourself to more experienced people. Trying to look like them, knowing how much they weigh, what their diet is, what their routine is, the list can go on and on; but knowing these things will not make you look like them. Everyone is different and every person’s body responds in different ways. So what that person does or did may or may not work for you. And that’s okay! It’s fine to try out what they did but don’t feel like it’s what you HAVE to do to get their results. Or to get results period. This is your journey. Figure out what works best for you.
Giving Up Too Quickly
Remember you’re still new to this. Don’t expect to have a crazy transformation in a matter of a month or two. The body just doesn’t work like that. Give it time to grow and transform. It took me 3 months to see significant changes in my body and over a year to see all of the changes that I wanted and I still consider myself to be a work in progress.
Just enjoy the process and take a lot of progress pictures and videos as motivation to keep going. Take your time in the gym and stay focused on your goals and you’ll get where you want to be.
Have you made any of these mistakes before? If so, how did you deal with them?
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