Starting a gym habit can be nerve-wracking. It’ll always be worth it in the long run, but going in as a beginner is a big step. It’s important, therefore, to get started on the right path. The last thing you want is to pick up bad habits that ruin the whole experience for you; not to mention making it more difficult!
This is why it’s important to watch out for common mistakes that plague new gym-goers. These are surprisingly easy to make, which is precisely why so many people end up falling victim to them. However, if you make sure to look out for them you can avoid an unpleasant experience and start to enjoy keeping yourself fit. Here are the mistakes you should be watching out for:
Lifting weights is a great way to get into shape, but doing so comes with a few risks. If you aren’t using good form, you won’t have an effective workout and you could even end up doing yourself an injury. If you are planning to start weightlifting – especially lifts involving your back, such as squats or deadlifts – you need to make sure you’re doing them properly.
You can look up tutorials online, but if you go down this route it’s a good idea to try out the movements with an extremely light weight first of all to make sure you’re comfortable. Alternatively, you could pay a personal trainer to help you out. It can even just be for a few sessions, until you’re confident with the exercises.
It’s easy to burn yourself out at the gym trying to do too much. However, you might also find yourself going too slowly to make any significant change to your fitness. You need to make sure you’re exercising the right amount in order to feel the benefits without doing yourself an injury.
When strength training, you should be aiming for a weight you can lift between eight and 12 times comfortably as part of a set, and you should be aiming for three sets per exercise. If you can’t manage three sets of eight, you need a lower weight, while if you’re easily hitting 12 repetitions each set then you need a heavier one.
For cardio training it’s slightly harder to find the sweet spot, but a good rule of thumb is to pick a speed you can consistently go at for 25 minutes. It might take a while to find this, but once you’re there you can increase the difficulty by either going faster or for longer.
A good workout at the gym should tax your body all over, whether that’s through a range of strength exercises, a good cardio routine or a mixture of both. If you turn up without a plan, you can easily end up neglecting elements of this and end up with an inefficient workout.
In addition, time spent wandering round the gym thinking about what to do next is time wasted. Make sure you get the most out of your workouts by planning them in advance so you know exactly what you’re going to do when you get there.
When you first start out, you will hopefully find the weights and cardio exercises that work for you. However, it is common to see people sticking with these long-term rather than varying them up at all. This will lead to some rapid gains at first, but your progress will quickly plateau.
You should always be assessing whether or not to move up a stage, whether that’s adding more weight to your lifts or another five minutes to your time on the treadmill. Don’t overexert yourself, of course, but also do your best to push yourself to the next level of working out.
If you start making progress at the gym – or if you’re just hoping to – it can be tempting to go every day to get results as quickly as possible. However, doing so can actually have the opposite effect, slowing down your progress as your body is drained of energy.
Rest periods are incredibly important. They’re when your muscles rebuild themselves, allowing you to exert yourself fully at the gym. If you don’t rest, you’ll quickly find yourself only able to go at 50 per cent at the gym, and half a workout is never going to be as good as a whole one.