6 Mistakes I Made When I Started Exercising

How do I know what not to do when it comes to exercising?  It’s because I’ve been there, messed it up, made mistakes, and paid the price.  Allow me to pay the price for you!

If you’re curious about the types of mistakes I have made (someone who has been training people in the fitness industry for 20+ years), read on, my friend… read on.

1 – It Starts With Food

Food is the base of it all.  It’s the foundation of the health and fitness pyramid.

Food helps you build muscle.  Food helps you lose weight.  Food helps you lose body fat.

Food tastes good!

My Mistake?

I went straight to the supplements without worrying about what I was eating.  The problem was I hadn’t built the base of my pyramid.  I was trying to get all fancy with protein, pre-workout, and creatine before I ever worried about:

  • Was I eating enough?
  • Were these meals reasonably healthy?
  • Did I get enough protein, fat, and carbs in?

Moreover, I never asked questions and nobody went out of their way to tell me not to do it that way.  What did supplement stores sell me?  Supplements, of course!

The Solution

Focus on the big picture things:  get your protein in, make good choices 80% of the time [or more] with your meals, and just eat enough.

Once you’ve figured out your eating up to 80% or better, supplements will absolutely supplement what you’re doing!

As an aside, how do you know if you’re not eating enough:  maybe you’ve stopped getting results; maybe you suffer from chronic aches and pains or nagging injuries; maybe you get hungry when you feel like you should be full; maybe you’re regressing in your workouts.  While this is likely not the only thing at play, undereating could be a problem for you.

2 – Asking Questions

As you just read, I am not great at asking questions.

My Mistake?

For whatever reason, I thought I knew it better than everybody else.  Magazines and the internet had me thinking, “this is what I’m supposed to be doing because this is what all the biggest, most muscular guys were doing.”  I’ll go heavy.  I’ll do bodybuilding splits.  I’ll hit each body part once per week on separate days instead of multiple times per week.  Chest day is always the first day.

The Solution

Ask someone who knows.  Maybe it’s someone whom you train with or someone who trains at the gym you do.  Maybe it is a professional trainer.  Perhaps you have someone in your family who is a strength and conditioning coach you know you can trust.

The point is, these people have probably made lots of mistakes in their own training (and in their training of others) and can steer you clear of the common ones.

For whatever reason, exercise seems to be one of the things people just feel, “I know what I’m doing.  I don’t need anyone else”  If you dig a little deeper, though, you find out you really don’t know jack.

How do I know? Every time I learn something new, I realize just how little I actually know… in my own industry!

3 – Workout Gear

No, I don’t mean steroids.  I know… when you look at me it’s hard to believe I’m not on gear [he stated with the thickest of sarcasm].

My Mistake?

I went straight into lifting straps and wraps.  I dove into wearing a weight belt.  All these guys are wearing Chucks or Jordans, maybe I should.  I see the high level CrossFitters using gymnastics grips.

Much like diving into supplements too early, I focused on all the workout gear I could get my hands on not realizing I hadn’t built my exercise base yet.  Why would I focus on the micro wins when the macro wins get me much farther?

The Solution

Learn how to move well.  Learn how this machine works or that machine works.  Figure out the shoes you want to wear, based on what you’re doing.

Learn how to stabilize your own body!  You can always add a weight belt later!

For instance:  did you know that in order to properly use a weight belt, you need to be able to stabilize your own trunk without it?  It’s not just throw it on, tighten that son of a bitch down, and go!

4 – More Plates, More Dates

For the bro’s among us, going heavy is standard.  There is no plate on the bench smaller than 45’s.  Get outta here with your 10’s and 5’s!

My Mistake?

You see everybody else lifting heavy weights and you feel the need compare…

“He’s squatting 315lbs and I’m not.”

“He did 12 pullups and I can only do 5.”

“Putting 4 plates on a deadlift bar looks so cool!”

Going too heavy too fast is potentially, and catastrophically, bad for your body.  Going too heavy too fast also stunts your results, you increase the wear and tear on your joints, and you don’t get to enjoy the process.

The Solution

Similar to the workout gear section, you need to learn how to move and you need to earn your right to lift heavy.

That’s right, I said earn your right to lift heavy.  By taking it a little bit slower:

  • You learn how to do the movements
  • You build stability in your joints
  • You build strength as you increase your training age
  • You increase the safety of everything you’re doing
  • You get to celebrate all the little victories along the way
    • I mean, why would you take this last one away from yourself?!

5 – The Warm Up

There was nothing more dorky than getting all good and warmed up when you were going through the paces as a teenager or young adult.

My Mistake?

Step 1:  walk in the gym

Step 2:  throw on weight and go

Or, put another way…

Step 1:  walk out of your home

Step 2:  run 5 miles

The Solution

Warming up is aimed at doing a couple of different things:

  1. Preparing your joints and soft tissues for the work you’re about to do
  2. Getting all the little stabilizers and prime movers primed and ready to work
  3. Helping you to prevent injury (both chronic and acute)

Follow this as a general protocol:

  1. General Warm Up – do something to get your body temperature up, your heart rate up, and the tissues of your body warm
  2. Specific Warm Up – start working into the exact patterns, ranges of motion, and movements you intend to do for the day

6 – Going in Blind

Arms:  “What do you guys feel like doing today?”

Legs:  “I don’t feel like it.  What about you?”

Abs:  “Hey!  You talked to me?!”

Chest:  “No, he was talking to me.  Let’s do this!”

My Mistake?

Those good ol’ muscle and fiction magazines or internet workouts would get me.  Most of the time, though, I’d walk into the gym and just do whatever I felt like doing that day.

The result?  Some muscles would get neglected and others overworked.  Leg day, anyone?

The Solution

Remember that “good, better, best” thing?

  • Good
    • Plan your workout before you get to the gym so you know what you’re doing
    • This has the added benefit of being time efficient while you’re there
  • Better
    • Plan your workouts for the week or the month
    • The great part about this one is you can see the progressions in the planning and feel them as they occur in the workouts themselves
  • Best
    • Hire a Personal Trainer.  A good Personal Trainer will completely rock your world and have things planned out you would have never thought about
    • Plus, a good Personal Trainer will help you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it
    • We’re biased but we’ve got some really great Personal Trainers at Iron Hero.  Get yourself started HERE

As for me?  I found myself an amazing group of people who worked as training partners and mentors to help mold me into the trainer I am today.  They are all smarter than I am and frankly, it should be that way.

You never want to be the smartest person in the room, if you know what I mean…

Take It From Me

Take it from a guy who has had more than his fair share of chronic and acute injury, lack of results from training, and misinformation run its course.  Not to mention the wasted money due to silly supplements and workout gear!

Reach out for help and if nothing else, take your time when you train.

This whole thing is about the journey and the fun and celebrations along the way!

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