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7 Common Mistakes Beginners Make in the Gym

By Hunter Swanson | Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Everyone’s got to start somewhere.  When it comes to the gym, the first step inside is always the most intimidating.  No matter what gym you go to, you walk in and all you see are wall to wall crazy fit people lifting like they’re the Hulk, running like they’re the Flash, or training like they’re Wonder Woman.  It’s enough to make anyone self-conscious.  But you push through, you want to turn that dad bod into a rad bod, but you don’t know where to start.  So you just start lifting something… Anything is better than nothing, right?  Wrong.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, no matter what your intentions are, you are setting yourself up to get hurt.  Injury leads to time off and time off, especially when you are starting out, is the worst thing for your routine and your morale.  These are seven of the most common mistakes beginners make in the gym and by recognizing them early, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed and unleash that inner superhero.

  1. No Stretching/Warm Up

The first thing you should always do before anything is stretch.  Loosen up those muscles, get those tendons ready, and prepare your body for action.  Tight muscles and tendons lead to injury, so you need to stretch and warm up.  You want an effective lift, stretching and warming up gets the blood flowing.  You will be ready for the full range of motion that is necessary for a good day in the gym.

  1. Not Learning to Properly Move

You know the saying “You have to crawl before you can run?”  This is the same thing, but in the gym.  You need to know which muscles to activate during simple exercises before advancing to the more difficult movements.  Improper movement leads to being injury prone, having an ineffective lift, and some serious bad habits.  Start with simple body weight squats, push ups, and pull ups before adding weight to the equation.

  1. No Specific Goal

You’d be surprised how many people actually skip this step.  This isn’t so much about technique and protecting the body as it is about making your time in the gym as efficient as possible.  The main excuse for not going to the gym is a lack of time, and if you waste it while you’re there, you’re destroying any motivation to keep going.  Having goals while at the gym push us harder, keep us determined, and develop muscles or cut weight faster.  Know why you are going and what you are going to do that day and that week.

  1. Training with Improper Form

This is the classic mistake – training the wrong way.  This doesn’t go just for people lifting weights, having improper form on the treadmill is just as inefficient and can lead to injury.  You are training a certain muscle group, using improper form can either hurt those muscles or not even engage them.  Plus this is an incredibly bad habit that will only hurt you in the long run.  Learning the proper form is the best way to changing your body in a quick, efficient, and healthy way.

  1. Lifting too Heavy/Light

We’re either intimidated and don’t want to be left out or we are trying to show off and end up lifting too much weight.  What happens?  We get hurt and are out of the gym for the next while our body lectures us with aches and pains.  Lifting too heavy messes with your form, making for an ineffective lift, and if you’re body isn’t used to that kind of struggle, will lead to serious injury.  The gym is a place to improve and grow, so listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself by lifting too heavy.

  1. Lifting too Fast/Too Many Breaks

You either try and fly through your workout or you take a million water breaks and watch the TV for fifteen minutes between lifts.  If you’re rushing your workout, your making yourself susceptible to a breakdown in technique and form.  This leads to?  You guessed it – injury.  Giving yourself too much rest time between sets or cardio stops your muscles from being actively engaged.  You need to find the sweet spot for you between rushing and stalling.  Remember, too fast burns out the cardio instead of the muscle and too slow burns nothing.

  1. No Recovery After Lift

So you’ve stretched, warmed up, lifted with a goal in mind, had the proper form, and used your time to near perfection.  You had a great time at the gym so you shower, hop into the car, and go about your day.  Unbeknownst to you, you’ve skipped one of the most important parts of training – the recovery.  If you don’t take care of your body after you’ve just beaten it up, it’ll get you back later.  Your muscles will tighten up, the lactic acid will build up in your joints, and you will just feel sore all around.  After your workout, grab a foam roll or stretch.  You also need to get some nutrients in the body in the form of food or supplements with good protein.  You just spent time getting into shape, give your body the best chance to maintain those gains with proper stretching and nutrients.