Top 5 Common Workout Mistakes to Avoid

Common Workout Mistakes to AvoidTop 5 Things to Avoid When Working Out

While there are no doubt plenty of mistakes made daily in gyms around the world, this doesn’t mean you have to be part of the crowd!

As a personal trainer, I see people make mistakes consistently and at times I will admit I get a bit worried thinking I’m about to witness an injury. However, setting obvious problems aside such as improper exercise form, there are less subtle mistakes made by many, especially beginners. These are what I’m going to cover here.

So without further ado, here are five very common and not always obvious workout mistakes you should avoid if you’re looking to get the most out of your time in the gym.

The Top 5 Common Workout Mistakes to Avoid

#5.  Not Setting Proper Fitness Goals

Set Obtainable Short Term Goals

You Wouldn’t Choose Everest as your 1st Hiking Trip

Starting an exercise program with the only goal of losing 40 pounds is analogous to climbing Everest on your first hiking expedition.

Lofty goals will set you up for failure. Setting obtainable, short term goals is a must for achieving results in your workout program.

Even the most experienced mountain climber must spend his or her time at base camp before making another small accent to the next base camp.

The same idea is best to use for people who look to accomplish a long term fitness goal such as a 50 pound weight loss. The first goal should be something simple such as exercising 3 days a week for an entire month.

Once the body neurologically adapts to the exercise program (usually occurs in a month), exercise progressions can be used to attempt to lose the first 5 pounds. After the first 5 pounds is lost, a new goal and modified exercise program can attempt to burn the next 5 pounds of fat and so on.

Write Everything Down!Measuring important variables such as body fat, circumferences, weight, and workout performance is also an important aspect of setting proper goals. A simple way to keep track of goals and progress is to write everything about your workout program down in a journal.

Purchase a Quality Workout & Nutrition Journal

#4. Working out Too Long

Intensity vs. Duration

Quality of Workouts Outweighs Quantity Every Single Time

Unless you are one of the few people who enjoy spending countless hours in the gym you should pay attention to this pointer very carefully.

Exercise intensity has an inverse relationship with the duration i.e. if you lift really heavy, you won’t be able to perform as many reps.

The same goes for cardio exercise. If your intensity (heart rate) is too low, you will have to exercise for a long duration to burn the same number of calories.

Many people who go to the gyms across the world make the mistake of letting time dictate their workouts rather than letting their workouts dictate time.

If you spend 3 hours in the gym, your intensity was not sufficient enough to get the best results. The same philosophy used for strength training can help drastically increase the effectiveness of workouts.

Just as you set a number of reps as your target and lift to failure to get the optimal response from each set, you should do the same with your weight training and cardio workouts as a whole.

Excess low intensity workouts can cause your body to produce excess cortisol which is a catabolic hormone which breaks down muscles and can slow down your metabolism.

The best philosophy is simple, get in, work out hard, get out, eat and rest properly and achieve your goals. Spending less time resting in between sets, using supersets and performing circuit training are a few ways to make the most out of the time you spend in the gym.

#3. Poor Exercise Selection

Poor Exercise Selection workout mistakes

Do Not Judge a Book by the Cover

Just because a picture of latest and greatest supermodel lifting a 3 pound dumbbell accompanies the weight loss workout in this month’s copy of muscle and fiction magazine does not mean it will help you.

Poor exercise selection is one of the most easily correctable workout mistakes because all it takes is a little simple, easy to remember tip.

If you need to lose large amounts of weight, you will need to perform exercises with your large muscle groups. Large muscle group exercises are characterized by multiple joint, multiple muscle actions.

If you want to build a specific muscle, isolation exercises are the way to go. If you want to tone your inner thighs, the inner/outer thigh machine at your local fitness center will do absolutely nothing for your goal.

Performing exercises which are counterproductive are also very common workout mistakes which can lead to injury in the long term.

Your body is put together a certain way which is changed during repeat stress. If you train muscles which are over-stressed to begin with, you are not helping your cause.

#2. Following Someone Else’s Program

Workout Mistakes

Know Whose Program You Are Following

There are “workouts” in every single fitness magazine and website which claim to be “toning, muscle building, or fat burning.”

The question is for who? Were they designed for a 6’5″ bodybuilder who weighs 300 pounds? Were they designed for a 5’11” 98 pound supermodel?

It is anybody’s guess who they were designed for but you know for a fact they were not designed with you in mind.

The most important aspect of a successful workout routine is how well it fits your current fitness level and goals.

A successful workout routine takes a progressive approach and is designed to achieve your goal safely, efficiently and effectively.

You have 2 options. You can spend hours to study and learn the science behind a great workout routine and go through weeks, months and years of trial and error to find the right workout routine which will give you what you want.

Your second option is to seek professional help. You can head to your local gym and consult with a personal trainer or you can look into a personal workout plan from an online personal trainer.

#1. Not Following a Nutrition Program

Nutrition Program workout mistakes

If Your your Workout Routine was a Basketball Game, Your Nutrition Would be Represented as 4 Teammates

Do you think you could win the game without the the help of your 4 teammates?  What if your 4 teammates were even trying to help you lose?

If you have a bad diet, it will be analogous to your teammates working against you.

This situation is very common with people who exercise. Even if you have the greatest workout routine of all time, without proper nutrition you will not get optimal results.

The importance of nutrition cannot be underestimated.

Proper nutrition goes hand in hand with a successful workout routine which means with proper nutrition you will achieve your desired results in the shortest, safest amount of time.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be one of those guys and gals in the gym! In addition to learning proper exercise form and utilizing a balanced exercise program, avoiding these five workout mistakes is a fantastic place to start. So go ahead, maximize your time in the gym and achieve the awesome results you deserve!

Author Profile: Mike Behnken

Mike Behnken is a personal trainer who holds multiple NASM certifications and a MS in Exercise Science. Mike loves fitness, travel, and photography among many other interests.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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