5 Beginner Gym Mistakes You Need to Avoid!

Going to the gym can be tough, but not always because getting in shape is hard work. For some, the problem is that… they’re not exactly sure what they’re doing in there.

The environment, the equipment, the exercises, and heck, even the fashion trends can be difficult to grasp. To enlighten some of our fellow beginner bros and broettes, and even some of you seasoned gym-goers, here are 5 beginner gym mistakes that you might want to fix.

Number 1, you use only machines. There’s nothing exactly wrong with machines as they do simplify many exercises and are, for the most part, easy to use. But its simplicity has its drawbacks. One is that machines typically accommodate only average height ranges, making it tough to use if you’re too short or too tall. Some machines also follow unnatural movement paths, which can be uncomfortable to use.

Free weights are much more…well, free, allowing you to work with better, more natural patterns. Also, one huge disadvantage is the lack of strengthening stabilizer muscles. Machines already have you set in a fixed, stable position, thus you won’t need to kick in much of your stabilizers to keep balance and control. Free weights, in contrast, will require just that. Now again, that doesn’t mean machines aren’t good at all. In fact, one of the best machines in all of fitness are the cable machines. But they do have their limitations and it’s important to integrate free weight exercises into your program wherever you see fit, especially if your goal is overall fitness.

Number 2, you’re doing manner too several isolation exercises. Yes, I’m talking to you, the one staring in the mirror while doing your eighteenth set of bicep curls. Believe it or not, there’s more to being in shape than the size of your arms. These single-joint isolation exercises, like curls, side raises, and triceps pushdowns, only tend to focus on one muscle group at a time. Large compound movements, like squats, deadlifts, and shoulder presses, however, hit multiple muscle groups at once, meaning more work in significantly less time.

Compound movements also allow you to work with much heavier weights, which is great if you want to build overall strength and muscle. Now, isolation exercises are still important. They are great at hitting muscles that need more work, and they’re more effective in controlling specific volume targets for any given muscle. But the point is, don’t stick with isolations only. Do your compound movements too, if not more so.

Number 3, you only use light weights. It’s understandable that beginners will hesitate to lift heavy. However, avoid doing so goes against one key fitness component: progressive overload. The concept that, one must persistently increase the demand placed on the muscles to effectively become stronger and bigger. Sure, you might toss on a few more pounds once in a while, but nothing even close to your maximal potential.

You need to push your limits for results, ESPECIALLY if the goal is getting stronger. Studies repeatedly show that strength gainz are best achieved when lifting heavy. That means you need to lift a weight you can only do maybe 5 or 3 reps max, or even just once. And then after you achieve that, try even more the next time around. No additional forty rep sets unless your goal is strictly endurance.

Number 4, you don’t bring along a bottle of water. an easy however crucial mistake many folks make, not simply beginners. The thing is, our body is two-thirds water and on average, we sweat off roughly 1 liter of water for every hour of exercise. If we don’t replenish the lost water, it can lead to dehydration, which comes with nasty symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, poor concentration, and headaches. Qualities you certainly wouldn’t want during your physical activities. The simple fix is to bring that water bottle with you. There’s really no reason not to and it’s better than relying on the gym’s water fountain. Also, if you’re doing anything super intense or long endurance, you might want to consider a sports drink or coconut water instead to help replenish the loss of electrolytes. Plus, it has sugars, which replenish energy stores. Just make sure you account for the added sugars into your overall diet. 

And finally, number 5, you don’t ask for help. There has been a long-built stigma of an anti-social sentiment in the gym. Unsolicited fitness advice is often discouraged since no one likes to be told what to do even with the best of intentions. But such a contentious pride to be independent means… we suck at asking for help. As a beginner, there’s no doubt you’ll need all the help you can get. We also have studies showing that people with social and/or coaching support are much more likely to be successful with their goals. It’s both a motivational and educational benefit to have someone encouraging and helping you along the way.

I’m personally a huge advocate of working with actual professionals, even personal trainers, with enough due diligence, but I understand not everyone has the financial means to do so. In that case, put your pride aside and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Contrary to popular belief, gym bros and broettes are more than happy to help.
After all, they understand how difficult it once was as a beginner themselves. And that’s five mistakes you might want to start working on as a beginner. I hope you all left with at least some extra knowledge you can take to the gym.

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