5 common gym mistakes and how to avoid them

Tired in the gym

EVERYONE starts as a beginner.

Yep, that guy squatting 4 plates each side. He started struggling to coordinate a squat.

The same goes for that guy benching 3 plates each side. He started just using the bar.

But as we get comfortable in a gym environment, we learn the basics, we understand gym etiquette and we realise what happens when we leave equipment left out and not put away.

But even once you’re considered a regular at the gym, you can still make mistakes.

Mistakes that could stall your progress; leave you feeling deflated, exhausted and wanting to throw in the towel.

Below are 5 common mistakes that I’ve witnessed in the gyms I’ve worked/trained in and how you can avoid these 5 common mistakes too:

Beginner Weight Room

  1. Too much too soon

When you first start your fitness journey, your motivation, determination and enthusiasm to succeed is really high.

Which is awesome.

But reel the reigns in a bit first.

You don’t need to be training chest 4 times per week to make sure you “hit every fibre”, you also don’t need to be performing drop sets on your biceps “to feel the burn”.

You don’t need to be doing 8 different exercises for your chest, it’ll grow perfectly fine with 2-4 exercises.

You also don’t need to train legs to the point where you can’t sit down without letting out a silent scream for a week.

You’re new to the gym, you’re going from never training a single body part, to training every body part, you’ll be making progress regardless of the frequency.

Save the advanced methods for in a few years when progress is stalled.

How to avoid this:

Start off training your muscle groups once per week for a month or two, with the aim of increasing the weight, sets or reps on each exercise.

Once that stops working, look to increase the number of times per week you train a muscle group, so move up to training legs, chest or back twice per week.

When you’re a beginner, you can progress pretty rapidly from doing just about anything, so focus on proper technique and an amount of training that you can effectively recover from.

Tired in the gym

  1. Chasing weight not technique

People quarter squatting.

People not touching their chest when benching.

People only going down half way on a pull up.

You’ve probably seen things like this in most gyms, and it usually stems from the beginning point of entering a gym.

If you focus on chasing weight on the bar on movements you haven’t correctly learned, then the chances are that you could end up letting your ego get the better of you and end up half repping your movements, or worse, getting injured.

It’s FAR easier to learn correct technique at the beginning of your journey, than to unlearn a bad technique and re-learn the correct technique.

How to avoid this:

Go to the gym with a friend who knows their stuff, who can correctly advise you on correct form. If you’re out of luck with that, there are plenty of great personal trainers that are always willing to lend a hand, pay for their services, the cost will pay dividends in the future, and take a lot of guess work out of the equation for you.

  1. Not keeping track of progress

How do you know if you’re getting better?

The last time you squatted 70kg, can you remember if you did it for 5 or 6 reps?

What exercises did you do for chest last Monday?

If these are questions you’ve ever found yourself asking, then keeping a track of your progress is vital for you.

How to avoid this:

The EASIEST way you to monitor your progress, is to buy yourself a cheap notepad from a stationary shop and then track what exercises you’re doing, how many sets and reps you’re doing and the weight that you’re lifting over them sets.

This ^^^ not only gives you a target to aim for in your next workout, but it also means that you can evaluate your progress effectively to see if you’re heading in the right direction.

  1. Not having a plan of attack before you enter the gym

I remember being fresh out of school at the age of 16, heading to the gym with my mates, having no plan whatsoever and just ending up doing bench and biceps.

If I didn’t have anything written down (which was usually the case) I’d go to my fall back plan of chest and biceps.

Don’t let that ^^^ be you.

How to avoid this:

There are plenty of solid training programs you can get from the internet, for beginners and intermediates.

Programs such as starting strength, 5×5, madcow, 5/3/1 all will work out making sure you progress at a decent rate.

Get on a program and make progress. Here’s a good beginner program by Tony Gentilecore, who is a strength & conditioning coach over in the states


  1. Repeating the same old workout

Similar to point 4, this was me.

Monday – Chest & Biceps 3-4 sets of 10

Tuesday – Supposed to be legs (but didn’t have a plan) so just did chest & biceps 3-4 sets of 10.

This ^^^ would usually go on for weeks/months at a time.

How to avoid this:

Utilise progressive overload in your training.

Try to either increase weight on the bar, repetitions performed or the number of sets during your workouts as the weeks progress.

NB: As a beginner, progress will be made week to week, but if you’ve been going to the gym for 6 months or more, your progress might begin to slow. So adding weight to the bar might slow down to once every 2 weeks. But as long as you’re progressing in some way, that’s the main aim.

If you manage to use this post and avoid these 5 common mistakes, I’m sure you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of most other gym goers.

James Wilks

Hey guys, thanks for reading. This website should help you cut through all the BS and make an informed choice with supplements. I was like you 2 years ago, trawling the internet looking at review, after review, after review. But now that's changed, I've taken my years working in the supplements industry and created this website to help you make the right choice. If you like something please share on social media! Or drop me a message. Always good to hear from you guys.

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