Training Tips

Beginner Workout Mistakes Everyone Makes

Beginner Workout Mistakes Everyone Makes

Exercise seems like an easy thing to do, until you walk into the gym. With all the options available, it’s easy to make a bee-line straight to whatever seems familiar. Usually, the treadmill. But if you want to achieve your fitness goals, you’ve got to have a workout plan.

What are some common workout mistakes?

From walking through the doors of the gym to taking your post-workout shower, here are some of the most common training mistakes beginners make.

Skipping the warm-up

Don’t jump into an exercise routine without doing a proper warm-up! Whether you’re about to hit the free weights or do some cardio, a warm-up should always come first.

The warm-up helps to:

  • slowly increase heart rate
  • get blood pumping through the blood vessels
  • increase oxygen intake (to reduce muscle fatigue)
  • lubricate the joints

A warm-up can be a visit to the sauna, 10 minutes on the rowing machine, or a few light-weight sets of each exercise in your weight lifting routine.

Forgetting Flexibility

Having a full range of motion is important for staying active. Stretching also makes for a great post-workout recovery routine. The ISSA recommends light stretching at the end of the training session. To avoid injury and pain:

  1. Stretch each muscle that was worked.
  2. Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain.
  3. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.
  4. Do each stretch 2-3 times.

There are many health benefits to stretching. Learn more in our article, Flexibility Training: Finding Your Best Range of Motion.

Expecting Immediate Results

If only a month of training was all it took to be slim and trim for that beach vacation! Many beginners have unrealistic expectations about how long it will take to achieve fitness goals. Some spend too much time training and end up injured. Others don’t spend enough time in the gym and quit when they don’t see results.

Sound like you? Keep reading…

What’s the Best Way For A Beginner to Approach the Gym?

Make time to create a plan of action to help you avoid these and other common training mistakes.

Set Fitness Goals

Setting goals is the foundation for creating a training program. Your workout plan should include short- and long-term fitness goals which might include:

“I will add two cups of vegetables into my diet daily.”

“I will increase my bench press by 10% this month.”

“I will warm-up for 10 minutes before each workout.”

Learn how to create SMART goals here: Setting Fitness Goals is Essential to Long Term Success

Once you’ve set your SMART goals, get a fitness journal and track everything. We have some ideas in the handout at the end of this post.

Free Weights are Your Friends

Weight training is important to overall fitness. The benefits of weight lifting extend from young athletes to seniors and people with chronic health issues. Unfortunately, most beginners walk into a gym and head straight for the cardio equipment. Cardio is great, but strength training helps to:

  • increase fat loss
  • improve bone health
  • increase quality of life
  • reduce pain
  • improve joint stability
  • reduce risk of injury

What’s the easiest way to include strength training into your fitness training routine?

Follow the Principle of Progressive Overload

During the first few weeks of exercise, you’ll get stronger. The muscle strength comes from your brain and muscles communicating faster, not from muscle growth. But…muscles adapt to exercise by getting stronger. So, when that 15-pound dumbbell starts feeling light, it’s time to switch things up.

Here are five ways to change your weight training routine for more muscle growth and strength:

  1. Gradually increase the amount of weight you lift.
  2. Increase the number of repetitions per set.
  3. Add a set to each workout.
  4. Change the tempo so that you perform each movement faster or slower.
  5. Shorten the amount of rest time between sets.

Training for Bigger Muscles: Sample training program

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

15 repetitions

3 – 5 sets

60 – 90 seconds rest

Light resistance

8 – 12 reps

3 – 5 sets

60 – 90 seconds rest

Moderate resistance

5 – 6 reps

3 – 5 sets

60 – 90 seconds rest

Heavy resistance

2 – 4 reps

3 – 5 sets

60 – 90 seconds rest

Very heavy resistance

Keep track of each of these variables in your training journal. This will help you plan post-workout recovery and avoid over-use injuries.

Ladies…don’t be afraid of getting big, bulky muscles! Read this article to find out why: Ladies, lifting heavy won’t make you “bulk up”

Make Cardio Count

Here’s the thing about cardio…it’s good for your heart, not fat loss. Now that you know, let’s make your next cardio session count!

Find Your Target Heart Rate

To keep your heart, lungs, and blood vessels healthy, you need to exercise at the right intensity. Follow these steps:

  1. Upon waking, find your resting heart rate (RHR)
    • Count your pulse for 30 seconds and multiply by two
  2. Find your maximum heart rate (HRmax)
    • HRmax = 220 – (age)
  3. Enter your RHR and HRmax into the following equation
    • THR = [(HRmax – RHR) x %Intensity] + RHR

For example, a 35-year-old (male or female) has a resting heart rate of 63 beats per minute (bpm).

HRmax = 220 – 35

HRmax = 185

THR = [(HRmax – RHR) x 0.5] + RHR

THR = [(185 – 63) x 0.5] + 63

THR = [122 x 0.5] + 63

THR = 61 + 63

THR = 124

This person should start training at 50% intensity or a heart rate of 124 bpm. Gradually bump up the intensity as training feels easier.

Don’t get bummed thinking you have to log a ton of miles in your joggers. Running isn’t the only form of cardio. Lots of fun activities have cardiovascular benefits. You can read more in our article, Cardio Workouts: Fitness We Love to Hate

Track your target heart rate and the duration of each of your cardio sessions. This will help you decide when to pump things up!

Diet Counts, Too

One of the most common training mistakes is neglecting nutrition. Some people maintain their current diet. Others radically change their diet. And some consider exercise a golden ticket to eat whatever they want.

If fat loss is one of your fitness goals, then your diet should support, not sabotage that goal.

Here are some tips:

  • Skip highly processed and sugar-sweetened items
  • Eat more protein, add more vegetables
  • Make time for satisfying meals
  • Separate feelings and food
  • Eat when you’re hungry

Find Your Crew

Exercise is more fun and you’ll be more consistent if you find a group of like-minded people to work out with. Try local parks and recreation centers to see what’s available.

You should also consider hiring an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer.

Hiring a fitness trainer takes all the guesswork out of exercise. You just show up and focus on the workout. With the help of a certified personal trainer, you’ll:

  • meet those bench press goals
  • get in shape for the beach
  • avoid overuse injuries
  • protect your joints
  • achieve your goals faster

…and learn how to maintain your health and fitness for life. It’s a win-win!

To add even more knowledge to your health and fitness databank, or to become a trainer yourself, check out the ISSA’s Personal Trainer course.

Training Journal

Click HERE to download this handout and share with your client!