Avoid These 8 Beginner Mistakes

I was a beginner too.  Frankly, I still feel as though I’m a beginner even now.  I believe that is what makes me a better Personal Trainer is that I understand that I always have more to learn. In fact, the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. I’ve made all these mistakes before after all!

Ask yourself, “have I made any of these mistakes?”  “Am I currently making any of these mistakes?”

Well, check them out and then do something about it!

1 – Skipping the Warm Up & the Cooldown

I get it, when you’re starting something new it can seem as though there is never enough time to get everything done that you need to get done.  Especially when that’s been your excuse up to this point.  However, skipping your warm up is one of those mistakes which can ensure you are missing some potential benefits and increasing the likelihood of injuring yourself.  I do believe you are aware of that, though.

The purpose of the warm up?

  • Get your body temperature up
  • Increase your heart rate and prepare it for exercise
  • Increase your breathing so it’s not a surprise when you actually start

If you’re looking to reduce your flexibility and make your soreness last longer, then you should probably skip your cooldown.  On the flip side, cooling down is a great means of actually improving how you move.

This is something that most people sorely need… see what I did there?

If nothing else, spend 5 to 10 minutes on a rower or bike at a casual pace when you have completed your workout.  Even better?  Do that and add in some stretching! Your body won’t regret avoiding these mistakes.

2 – “Weight > Form”

This heading might be a bit of a ‘bait and switch.’  Without question, your focus should be on quality movement and not just moving for the sake of moving.  When it comes to using machines, you have a little bit of structure to help out with your form.  When it comes to free weights, there is no structure for helping other than your own body!

In that way, Form > Weight.  Or should I say, form first and weight second.

If you’re going to use machines, learn to set yourself up properly.  The good news is that there are usually pictures available.  Even better?  Ask a trainer so you avoid mistakes in set up.

If you’re going to use free weights, find that trainer!

For example:  you need to be able to perform quality bodyweight squats before you should ever throw any additional weight on it.  The next step might be a dumbbell or a kettlebell goblet squat.  From there, you could move to a barbell squat of some kind.

Why do I bias a bit more to free weights?  I can train myself how it applies to my daily function.  Ask yourself, “what do I do regularly that might benefit from training with free weights?”

Start there.

3 – Overtraining

Is there such a thing as overtraining?  Absolutely!  For the average person, me included, I don’t know that I have the mental fortitude to take myself to the point of overtraining.  I can easily under-recover, though.

If you feel as though you’re overtraining, it’s more likely that you are under-recovering:  you don’t sleep enough, you don’t eat enough, and/or you don’t manage your daily stressors [they just happen to you].

Why should you be concerned about under-recovering?  You’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll hurt yourself; you will stunt your results; you will negatively impact your relationship with exercise and nutrition.

Solutions to these mistakes?

  • Sleep more – 7 to 8 hours.  It’s even beneficial to get up to 9, if you can swing it
  • Eat more – you probably eat too little when you’re focusing on your goals.  Eating more of the good stuff is a great idea!
  • “Rest” days – do some sort of low intensity activity on your rest days as a way to improve your recovery
  • Listen – to some degree, you need to listen to your body.  On other days, you need to tell your body to “shut up”
  • Meditation – silence and meditation are great tools for lowering your stress levels and improving your health and fitness

4 – Setting Unrealistic Goals

You’ve got a goal:  maybe you want to lose 50lbs; maybe you want to run a half marathon; or maybe you want to do a bar muscle up.

Congrats on aiming yourself in an amazing direction!

Here’s where things get tricky and how you could sabotage yourself:  if you don’t set incremental goals along the way, a little bit of progress seems like no progress at all.

Think of it this way:  rather than only running with your “A to Z” goal, create an “A to B” goal.  Then, create a “B to C” goal.  Then “C to D.”  You get the picture.

So if you are looking to lose 50lbs (A to Z), maybe your “A to B” goal could be 5lbs.  Then, maybe it could be 10lbs.  Keep moving in that manner because every little win is actually a pretty giant momentum-based leap forward!  And while I’m not a believer in motivation, racking up small wins helps to keep motivation afloat.

The action you should take?  Aim low.  Seriously, aim low and build momentum and you’ll soon find yourself to “Z!”

5 – Skipping Meals

Unfortunately, a lot of what I hear is “I cut this out” or “I brought my calorie count down to [x].”  The problem with this is that it is not sustainable and is self-sabotaging at the same time.

Your body isn’t dumb.

If you lower your intake (ex:  skipping meals or lowering portions) and increase your output (ex:  increase exercise), your body will “fix” the problem.  You will likely lose weight in the short-term and then sit stagnant from there but only after causing damage to your metabolism:

  • Your metabolism will slow to meet your intake/demand
  • Your body will deem muscles as ‘heavy’ and unnecessary when it comes to simply surviving (muscles are not energy/calorie dense after all)
  • Your body fat will likely stick around as it is not as ‘heavy’ but it is calorie dense which is necessary for your body to maintain homeostasis

Logically, you’ve been told to eat less and exercise more.  But to really fix the problem, you most likely need to eat more and exercise more.  Properly, of course!

Have some other nutrition-related questions?  Click HERE to set up a time with our amazing nutrition coach to learn what you actually need to do to get to your goals!

6 – You’re Probably Dehydrated

Being dehydrated will affect your cardiovascular output making you feel like you’re more tired more quickly.

Being dehydrated will also make your tendons and ligaments weaker and more prone to injury.  It’s hard to exercise if you’re injured, after all.

Being dehydrated will make it seem like you’re hungover… kinda… you may suffer from headaches as a result of dehydration, anyway. And if you’re hungover, mistakes were made.

So how much water should you drink?

A good starting point is to take your bodyweight, divide it by 2, and drink that many ounces per day.  For me?  I weigh about 200lbs, so my goal should be around 100 ounces of water per day.

If you workout a lot or sweat a lot, it might do you good to increase that amount.

Insider Tip – put a pinch of table salt in your water if you’re drinking water without eating a meal/snack.  Don’t put enough to change the taste but put some in regardless.  You’ll thank me later.

7 – Stress Management

Did you know that exercise is a stressor?  Did you also know that when you’re in a chronic state of elevated stress, regardless if it is exercise stress or otherwise, you may [hormonally] signal your body to add body fat?

In this state, there are specific types and durations of exercise that can actually be very counterproductive to what you are trying to accomplish.

So, what can you do to combat these mistakes and be productive in the gym again?

  • Breathe
    • This one seems silly but spending a bit of time during the day, in silence, while focused on your breathing can do really great things for you
    • Who doesn’t need a time out?
  • Meditation
    • Sometimes breathing and silence can go hand in hand.  In fact, they probably do most of the time
    • I’ve found guided meditation to really help separate me from the normal ‘thoughts’ throughout the day
  • Sleep More
    • Weird… right?  7 to 8 hours is the goal but 9 hours could be even better!
  • Planning
    • Planning your day/week can go a long ways to help you feel ‘in control’ and thus help to manage your stress levels
  • Hobbies
    • Spending more time doing the things you enjoy doing helps you return to a state of enjoyment and relaxation
  • Professionals
    • I believe everybody should be seeing someone, professionally
    • How often does someone truly listen to you?  Like, really listen to you?  Sometimes you just need to talk

Maybe you’ve read some of those before?  Right above here?  Weird…

8 – Comparison

What’s that saying?  “Comparison is the thief of joy,” or something like that?

Rather than ask yourself, “did I do better than so and so?”  You should be asking yourself, “did I do something to better myself today?”

One is out of your control.  The other is in your control.  And who doesn’t like being in control?

While your answer might not be “yes” every single day.  It will be “yes” most days and if you improve most days, just think of what type of progress you could experience in a year!

That’s A Lot Of Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re thinking, “that’s a lot of stuff to do!”  You would be right.

Here’s what you can do, though:  pick 1 or 2 mistakes to fix and, well, fix them!

Maybe you’re focusing on good form and you’re sleeping more; maybe you’ve stopped skipping meals and you’ve set more realistic goals for yourself; or maybe you’re starting to manage your weekly schedule better.

Those are huge wins!

If you’re looking to avoid these, and several other beginner mistakes, click HERE and set up a free consult with one of our amazing trainers!

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