9 Every-Day Mistakes you could be Making at the Gym

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Most people have been guilty of these errors at some stage in their fitness journey. Usually, these mistakes can be easily fixed. All it takes is a little awareness.  

1. Intensity: Not enough vs. Too Much

In order to be effective, a work-out needs to be challenging. Many people just go through the motions and expect result. If the intensity is not at the level it needs to be, your work-out is a waste of time.

The other extreme people tend to fall into is going too hard straight-up and burning themselves out. This can leave you sore an exhausted, which will can inhibit your potential for working out within the next few days. Aside from the physical effects, it can also lower your motivation.

Plan a regular gym routine into your week and make sure the recovery time matches the intensity level.

2. Skipping Your Warm-Up

If you are weaving strength training into a busy schedule, then skipping the warm-up might seem like a good way to save time. But what you are actually doing is increasing your risk of injury and limiting your movements.

Dynamic stretching is one of the best ways to prepare for exercises involving weights. This involves moving your muscles in a way that you would during the workout. Some dynamic stretching movements include circling the shoulders, doing arm swings and rotating key joints.

Avoid static stretches, specifically if you are weight training, as these can actually decrease the strength and power of your muscles

3. Setting Unrealistic Goals

Whether your aim is to build muscle, lose weight or rehabilitate joints, make sure you understand that these things will take time.

Setting unrealistic goals will leave you disheartened when they are not reached.

Your age, height, weight and activity level are just some of the factors that will influence how your body responds to exercise. On average, people who are lifting weights three times per week can expect to see visible results after ten weeks.

In terms of weight loss, many experts agree that a healthy rate  of weight loss is 0.5-1kg per week.

But all of these numbers can vary. Fitness experts and health forums are great tools for helping you plan your exercise journey and avoid feeling discouraged later down the track.

4. Bad Positioning

By having the correct form, you can be sure that your workout is effective and safe. One thing that trainers spot on a regular basis is push-ups not being performed correctly.

Others make the mistake of using the momentum of their body weight to lift, or over-extending the knee during lunges. Small details like these can make all the difference.

To get the most out of your workout, pay attention to the positioning of your body.  Try watching exercise videos online to compare your movements with those of professionals.  There are also a range of step-by-step checklists available to make sure you are getting the most out of each move.

5. Poor Food Choices

To reach your full potential during your work-outs and see the best results, it’s important to plan and time your meals wisely.

If you hit the gym on a totally empty stomach after a long day at work, you may experience fatigue and low blood sugar. But trying to work out straight after a large, greasy meal can weigh you down.

Registered dietian and author Manuel Villacorta says that “If you fuel yourself correctly, you’ll work-out harder.”

If your goal is maximum fat-loss, working out first thing in the morning before you eat can be a beneficial strategy. But this isn’t suited to everyone.

If you are also seeking to improve your performance, or you find yourself feeling lightheaded exercising on an empty stomach, having a light but nutritious snack 30-60 minutes before your work-out can improve your results significantly.

Bananas, protein shakes, oats, eggs, chia seeds and low-fat Greek yoghurt are rated among the best pre-workout foods. Avoid saturated fats and carbonated drinks. Also steer clear of high-sugar sports drinks, regardless of how many famous athletes endorse them. When choosing a snack, consider the type and intensity of the exercises you plan to do.

You also need to stay hydrated. Up your water intake on the days when you are exercising. Drink small amounts of water regularly throughout the day, rather than gulping down two litres of water just before your workout,

What you eat before your workout can help you strike the balance between performance and energy burning that best suits your goals.

6. Sticking to the same Routine

Although there are many benefits to having a work-out plan, many people fall into a rut of sticking to the same routine every day for too long.

Repeating a workout is good to a certain extent, as your body gradually adapts to the workout. This is a sign that you are improving. But once the workout becomes too easy you may find yourself hitting a plateau.

Mix it up. Not only will this increase your results, it will also keep your gym sessions interesting.

7. Depending on Equipments

The first treadmill dates back to the 1800s. The first cable-pulley weight machine dates back to the 1950s. But human exercise traces back into ancient history.

If you’re favourite machine is being occupied, there is no reason you can’t use the waiting time to do something else.

Many fitness experts have discussed the pros and cons of exercise machines. On one hand they provide support and are easy to use, particularly for people recovering from an injury.  But they can also be limiting and you should not rely on them for every aspect of your workout.

Free weights for instance, are more effective in improving your balance and also offer more versatility.  Most gyms have a variety of spaces suited to machine-free exercises. Your workout will be more effective if you keep yourself moving, rather than standing around waiting for equipment.  You will also make better use of your time in the gym, which will boost your overall success-rate.

8. Copying Others

This is a common error among newbies. Say you walk into the gym and spot someone with the physique you are trying to achieve. So your best bet is to do what they are doing , right? Wrong.

Firstly, with no clue about what another person’s fitness aims are, copying someone will not give you the results you want.

Replicating the movements of someone else without knowing the technique behind it can result in serious injuries as well as being a waste of your own time, energy and money.  There’s also never any guarantee that the complete stranger you are copying is doing anything correctly.

If you get the impression that someone has more experienced, there is no harm in approaching them at another time and asking for advice. But make sure your workout is constructed around your own personal aims and fitness level.

9. Neglecting your cool-down

When you have just completed a long, sweaty work-out, it can be tempting to head straight for the showers. But you will be much better off if you take some time a lower your heart-rate and stretch out your muscles.

When vigorous activity is stopped suddenly, the blood can pool into the large muscles of your leg, leading to dizziness. Gradually reducing your movement lowers the risk of light-headedness, while also helping to remove lactic acids and other waste products from your muscles.

Once you have slowed your body down, you need to make sure you are stretching properly in order to avoid aches and soreness after your work-out.  It also improves your flexibility, which will help you in the long-term.

A proper cool-down will leave you feeling better and more prepared for your next work-out session.

If you think you might be making one of these mistakes, reflect on how you can fix it. Don’t be afraid to ask a staff member if you are unsure of anything. That way, you can feel confident knowing that the hard work you are doing is safe and effective.

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