If you’re just getting started at the gym , or with exercise in general, it can be a little scary those first few times you hit the gym floor. Trying to get in a solid workout while not sticking out can feel overwhelming to say the least.
But here’s the thing: we’ve all been beginners in the gym at one point or another, and most of us have made these common mistakes ourselves. With that in mind, here are the most common mistakes beginners make in the gym, and how you can avoid them!
Gym Mistakes Just About Every Beginner Makes
Getting started at the gym might feel like a scary experience, but with these tips you can head onto the gym floor feeling confident and ready to work!
1. Don’t Skip Your Warm Up
If you’re short on time and just want to get in and out of the gym, it may be tempting to jump right into your workout and skip a solid warm up. Don’t!
A dynamic warm up is not only necessary to get your joints, tissues and muscles primed and ready for exercise, but it can help you avoid injury as well. A good warm up will have your blood pumping and get you lightly sweating- it’s much more than a few static stretches!
Think about doing a few light exercises that will work the muscles you plan to focus on in your workout. You will help “wake up” those muscles and they’ll repay you by working harder during your actual exercise.
2. Have a Plan
A big rookie mistake is walking into the gym with zero plan of what you’ll do once you get there. Wandering around the gym floor or moving aimlessly between machines is not only a dead giveaway that you’re a newbie, but it won’t get you the results you’re after, either.
Avoid this by going in with a workout plan! There are plenty of beginner workout plans to be found on the internet, or you could invest in a coach or trainer in order to get a more personal plan for your goals.
3. Don’t Do the Same Workout Over and Over
That plan I was talking about? Yeah, it’s not just one workout that you complete every single time you go to the gym. You’ll never reach your fitness or body goals by performing the same workout over and over. Eventually your body will adapt to this stimulus, you’ll plateau and stop seeing results, not to mention you’ll be extremely bored.
A solid fitness plan will incorporate 3-4 workouts per week, for a 4-6 week period of time before switching things up. This, of course, will be dependent on many things including but not limited to: your goals, your schedule, your current fitness level, the amount of time you want to spend working out, etc.
4. Hit the Weights, Not Just Cardio Machines
Cardio has its place in maintaining heart health and can burn calories, but if weight loss and/or muscle gains are a part of your goals, cardio isn’t necessary to reach them.
Strength or resistance training, as opposed to cardio, is actually a better option when it comes to exercise for fat loss or body recomposition goals. This is because strength training builds lean muscle, and adding more muscle means raising your resting energy expenditure, or the number of calories you burn while your body is simply at rest. The takeaway: don’t be afraid to hit the weights!
5. Don’t Forget to Re-Rack Your Weights
This isn’t just a beginner mistake to be sure, it’s also one that hardcore gym junkies make as well. Regardless, it’s important to be courteous of your fellow gym goers and put away the weights after you use them!
It’s in the same vein as wiping down your machine or hogging all of the space. No one wants to clean up after you, so after you’re finished make sure to put things back where you got them.
6. Include a Post-Workout Stretch
Stretching is an important element of your post-workout routine. It helps you recover from your workout, improves your posture and balance, and can even calm and de-stress you. You can find all the benefits of stretching here.
Stretching is another part of a workout that we tend to brush off or skip, but cementing the habit now - as a beginner - will ensure you always cool down with a post-exercise stretch.