Congratulations! You have decided to start your journey towards being fit. Whether it is just going for a run every day or hitting the gym six times a week, you are bound to get overwhelmed by all the nuances of getting fit. At first, it must seem impossible to soak in all the information, thousands of
articles on the web, the variety of options and machines available and so on. This might leave you frustrated and demotivated and want to quit. But don’t worry. And certainly don’t give up. Everyone was once a beginner. And everyone has faced the same problems you are facing today. The good thing is that you can learn from other people’s mistakes, so that you don’t have to commit the same mistakes.
Follow this guide to avoid some of the most common beginner’s mistakes.
1. Have a goal
Having a goal is very important, especially for beginners. It will give you something to track over time and benchmark the success of your workout plan. Without a goal, you will be clueless and end up seeing sub-optimal results. At the same time, the goal should not be too big. Break it down into small achievable goals. For example, you might want to have a generic goal like getting 6-pack abs in 2 months. That is just not realistic. Instead, focus on a smaller goal like following a workout routine you pick for 12 weeks. Or lose 5 lbs in 2 months. These will help you keep right on track and get you closer to your bigger goal. Remember, this is not a one time task, it’s a lifestyle choice that you make. You are not in it just to achieve your goal and then quit. Once you see results, you will be hooked for life.
2. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start simple
There is a ton of information out there and it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t know what you are doing. Don’t panic. Start simple. Pick a simple workout split that hits all your muscle groups once a week. Focus on compound exercises. Work in simple forms of cardio in with weight training. Once you master the basic compound lifts and gain stamina through cardio, you can focus on more advanced splits. Also, don’t try to change too much at once. If you exercise heavy and change your diet plan all from day 1, chances are you will get off track and quit soon. Break it down into simpler goals and change one thing every week.
3. Have a plan
Each time you enter the gym, you should have a plan of what you will be doing that day. You should also have a plan that you follow for a longer term. Without a plan, beginners are clueless in the gym and roam around looking for things to do. You will waste a lot of time and not be able to achieve your goals without a plan. Pick a beginner’s plan and stick to it for 2-3 months.
4. Don’t overtrain
Some beginners jump into their training program with heavy workouts and try to do more of everything, whether it is more sets, more reps or more cardio. Your body needs time to adjust to the change and it also needs time to repair the damage caused to the muscles after exercising. For most beginners, 3-4 days a week of 1 hour exercise sessions is more than enough. Any more than that and you risk hitting a wall and won’t see much gains or you will injure yourself. Choose quality over quantity. Do more compound exercises and work in 1-2 sessions of cardio per week. Once your body adapts to the change, change your workout program to a more advanced level.
5. Don’t undertrain
On the flip side, some beginners tend to skip a lot of workouts or think 1-2 sessions a week is enough. You will not see much results and get frustrated soon. There are hundreds of thousands of workout plans available for beginners on the internet. Pick one and stick to it for at least 2-3 months. Choose a plan which hits each muscle group once a week. This can be done with a 3 or 4 day workout split. Work in 1-2 sessions of cardio.
6. Don’t skip the gym unless there is a valid excuse
Beginners tend to skip the gym at the slightest excuse. Consistency and discipline are key to achieving your goal. If you find yourself missing days frequently due to other commitments, choose a plan that fits in your schedule better. It’s often enough to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Choose a plan accordingly and stick to it. Don’t skip the gym unless you absolutely have to.
7. Don’t skip warm up
Some beginners don’t warm up at all. Others warm up by doing basic stretches or a 5 minute run on the treadmill. These don’t prepare your muscles to lift weight. Follow a warm up plan of proper stretches and activating your muscles by doing warm up sets. Don’t focus only on the primary muscles you are going to hit that day but also on supporting muscles. It is best to spare 10-15 minutes for a proper warm up session before really hitting the weights hard.
8. Don’t forget to cool down
Your muscles go through some real strain when you work out. They do get warmed up and torn in the process. Following a proper cooling down regime will help them settle down a bit before carrying on with your daily activities. You can do some jogging on the treadmill and then perform stretches. You will not feel as sore the next day if you cool down as you will if you don’t.
9. Don’t rely too much on supplements
Beginners often get drawn to the appeal of supplements when they begin. Sometimes this happens even before you start eating healthy. Using supplements without a healthy diet is useless. Focus on cleaning up your diet plan first. Get the adequate amount of lean protein, carbs and fats into your system first. Supplements are meant as fillers to the macros you can’t fulfil through your diet. Real food will anyday give you more gains than supplements. However, once you do get your diet in place, you can start to look at basic supplements like whey protein and factor that into your plan.
10. Exercise proper form
This is the number one reason for injuries in the gym. This applies not only to beginners but also to advanced lifter. But it is all the more important to exercise proper form when you are a beginner so that you form proper habits. Without proper form, you have a high risk of getting injured and won’t see results. It is better to lift lighter weights with proper form than to lift heavy without.
11. Don’t let your ego drive you
Everyone wants to lift heavy and make big gains. But this is by far the biggest mistake that people make. Lifting more than you can will absolutely compromise your form and put you at a high risk of injury. You might be driven by other people who are lifting more than you and it might be embarrassing at first to see other people warm up with your max weight. But believe us, everyone was there at one point. Work hard on the basics and proper form, be disciplined and you will get there too. Just don’t try to get there on day 1. Focus on progressive overload and do a little bit extra every week, whether it is to add some weight to an exercise or adding some reps. This will help you grow bigger and have you lifting heavier weights in no time. But patience and hard work is the key.
12. Don’t focus on a single body part. Do compound exercises
It is important to focus mainly on compound exercises when starting out. These include bench press, squats, deadlifts and rows. These will workout your isolated muscles also. These compound exercises use multiple muscle groups. You should get comfortable with these using proper form before moving to isolation exercises. This will form a very good base for your body. Often you hear beginners having goals such as having big biceps or gaining a six pack, and they end up doing a thousand curls and crunches. Spot gains are possible when lifting, but will leave you with a disproportionate body. Compound exercises should always form a major part of your weightlifting program.
13. Don’t forget water intake
Your muscles and blood cells consist of 70% water. There is no denying that lack of proper hydration will lead to suboptimal results and hamper your gains. Staying hydrated is very important both during your workout sessions and outside the gym. The golden rule is not to ever get very thirsty, but aim to intake at at least 2-4 liters of water a day depending on your body requirements.
14. Don’t forget why you started
Last but not the least, you will have good days at the gym and you will have bad days. The key is to stay consistent and not miss workouts. There will be times when you stop seeing further gains. Hitting plateaus are a part of working out. These are also the most difficult times and you feel like giving up. Dont! Instead, change something in your workout plan or nutrition. Make yourself better each day. Think about why you started. Do you want to go back to level 0, or do you want to strive to achieve where you want to get to. Trust us, even when you get to where you wanted to when you started out, your goals will evolve. It’s a never ending process and it’s a lifestyle choice. A good one. Remembering why you started will often motivate you to keep going whenever you are in doubt.
Also Read: Gym Etiquettes You Should Follow