Training or exercising in a gym when you are brand new to it all can be just like anything else in life we ever attempt with little to no knowledge about. It can be a struggle, a disaster, and even make us feel or look foolish. However, this is common with everyone who joins a gym without any proper form of guidance or knowledge, so do not feel as if you are the only one. We have all made silly and stupid training mistakes from performing strange exercises that weren’t beneficial to our routine to even focusing on the weight primarily over the more important aspects such as form and range of motion in order to achieve proper results. When it comes to training in the gym, the most common mistakes I believe most people make, both men and women, are as follows.
Common Gym Mistakes
1. The first thing and one of the biggest mistakes people make with training is also one of the simplest things one can do, and that is to not track your progress. Tracking your progress is very important because it allows you to see how your weight is changing week to week and how your strength is performing and if its increasing. It’s such a simple thing that can be as easy as weighing yourself at least 2x a week in the morning to see a change in weight and just recording your personal bests/records on exercises in your phone or in a notebook. This will really help to keep you on track.
2. The next big mistake new gym members make is to do with a limited training method. When someone first starts lifting weights, they are pushing the weights and training for the feeling and the pump instead of actually training for the results. New people in a gym become creatures of habit and perform the same heavy compound exercises day after day. Bench press. Squats. Deadlifts. Etc. They perform these exercises with the same weight load and even in the same fashion and expect to see results each week when in reality the body is adapting and becoming used to the routine so the results will slow down. Try new methods and exercises. Perform slower and more controlled reps and even increase your total number of sets while decreasing your rest time between sets. Focus primarily on the form and proper execution of a exercise rather than the amount of weight you are pushing and the results will show.
3. Another big mistake new gym goers make is not using the equipment correctly. Many people strongly believe that because a machine was designed for one thing and the name might say “Lateral Pull Downs” that its only able to work your back. This is the cable machine in which you sit down on while pulling the weight down towards your chest to train your upper back. However, did you know that by standing you can even use this machine to train your triceps by performing skull crushers on this machine? Just because a machine says what its designed to train in its name doesn’t mean that it only has one use. Find new ways to train and new ways to use the equipment. Don’t be scared to try new methods. A good way to try now methods is to look at workouts online from responsible sources. YouTube is a great resource for learning visually how to perform exercises with the correct form and how to make use of gym equipment
4. This mistake I believe almost every newbie to the gym makes, but the good news is it’s one of the easiest of them all to fix. This is a misunderstanding of rep range. Everyone has heard the saying that to gain mass you should perform reps between 6-8 and to become more toned/cut you should perform reps in the 12+ range. This is a silly mistake many make. Yes, performing reps at the 6-8 range will increase your size, but so will performing them at a much higher rate of the 12+. In fact, many studies have been proven to show that when our bodies perform reps at a range above 20+ per set that the amount of muscle protein synthesis that occurs is much higher compared to when we train at a lower rep level. Muscles will build due to 2 primary factors:
✓ Proper nutrition to feed muscle growth and repair damaged muscle fibers
✓ Time under tension (TUT) or the amount of time a muscle spends fighting a stimulus.
Higher reps will provide a much higher time under tension to allow for greater blood flow to expand the muscle cells and allow for greater growth compared to training at a low rep range.
5. The last mistake many people make is not getting enough rest. Most people who are new expect results fast and want them fast, so they go to the gym day after day, constantly training while never allowing a day off to let the body rest and recover. It’s important to understand that when we lift weights, we are damaging muscle tissue and that the damaged tissue can only repair itself in a resting state. You do not need to go and lift weights 6-7 days a week. In fact, you’ll see greater results lifting 4-5 days a week with proper rest time for recovery. Whenever you train a region or body part, such as shoulders or legs, I recommend allowing a recovery time of 48-72 hours before your next session in training the same muscle group. If you just keep training a muscle group that has not fully recovered you will become extremely sore and dramatically increase the chance of injuring yourself. The muscles will also not be able to grow to their potential. Recovery is essential for muscle growth.
Take Home Message
If you are guilty of any of the above, do not feel like you are the only one. These mistakes are common and everyone has made them, myself included. We learn as we progress and it’s important to realize that exercising in a gym is not complicated at all and that it’s the smallest and simplest things that can make a huge difference in our results. Pay attention to the small details of training and focus on the above while pushing your ego aside and you will definitely see results in your training.