Gym mistakes to avoid and what to do instead, for continued progress. Working out can seem really complicated: lots of rules, lots of things to do, lots of mistakes that can be made. It’s actually not as scary or technical as it sounds.
Generally, you can do a few things well, and avoid a few major mistakes, to see the results you want. Here are a few of the more common mistakes and easy ways to avoid them.
Doing Too Much Exercise, Too Fast
Deciding to go to the gym and committing to a goal is exciting! It’s fun! You want to go all in, right now. This makes it fun to get started, see some quick progress, and keep going. Unfortunately, it also makes its easy to do too much too fast.
This includes working out too many days of the week and not resting enough, lifting too heavy, or doing too much volume (sets x reps) at the beginning.
Remember, you will reach your goals faster when you are able to work steady, and increase your work capacity in a safe way. Setbacks don’t help your progress!
Find a good program, work hard, and stick with it. It will pay dividends!
Related: Read here about how to find the right program for you.
Lifting With Bad Form
Don’t be scared of lifting, but do put in some work on the front end to be sure you are lifting safely. Bad form can slow progress or injure you. Remember there are many right ways to do exercises (depending on your goals), a few less-than-optimal ways, and a few dead-wrong.
Lifting with less than optimal form can be fairly innocuous. It can leave some progress unmet, which is frustrating but fairly harmless. Worse, it can cause or reinforce bad posture, which you carry with you at all hours. This pre-dispose you to injury in the future.
Finally, truly bad form can be dangerous, since it can injure you. By lifting heavy with good form (safely), you will learn how to fail without injury. This helps you continue getting stronger in a safe manner. But lifting heavy with questionable form is more likely to cause a setback. It is worth learning how to lift well from a good trainer or reliable source.
Being Too Dogmatic/Limiting Yourself
Approaching exercise with the attitude that you know everything, and everything you know is right, is the quickest way to stagnation.
Don’t be too stubborn to learn from others. You don’t have to chase down every new idea you see (in fact, I would recommend against that) but don’t shut out the idea that new information can help you now or in the future.
What to Do Instead
Don’t let these things scare you off from the gym. See to it that you learn the right way to lift and take proper precautions. Learn good form, and how to modify it for your individual goals and needs.
The benefits far outweigh the potential risks! Lifting can help you gain muscle, lose fat, reshape your body, sleep better, and find new energy! It can truly give you a new outlook on life. Try it and see for yourself!
If you are brand new, try Square 1, which is my lifting program that starts from the beginning. It includes tips about gym etiquette and walks you through every set and rep of each exercise. It is a 6 week long program for $21, and you can message me anytime you have a question.
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.