Mistakes are made by all kinds of people while training. You might think that it’s always newcomers who break the cardinal rules of building muscle. However, plenty of experienced lifters make the same errors too.
Here are just some mistakes commonly made by people looking to improve fitness and build muscle.
Mistake 1: Not following a specific programme.
A surprisingly common reason that you are spending hours in the gym and making little progress is simply that you’re not doing it properly. Without expert guidance, it’s almost impossible to know what you’re doing.
After all, there’s no point showing up multiple times a week at the weights bench and making no gains. For example, working out the same muscles in the same way will get you nowhere. The best way to combat this is to follow a proper programme that has been designed by a professional trainer or athlete. That way you know you’re working out as efficiently as possible. This will also keep you motivated. In short, it’s not just about working hard, but working intelligently.
Mistake 2: Skipping leg day.
Look around pretty much any gym and you’ll see men who have put effort into their top half, but their legs are neglected. It’s not a great look, and for anyone who wants to improve the way they look and feel all over, legs must be included.
Developing your quads, hamstrings and calves is just as important as your upper body. Try swapping some of your bench time to curls, lunges and squats and you’ll look – and feel – better.
Mistake 3: Using equipment incorrectly.
Whether it’s kettlebells or the weight machines, lots of gym-goers are using them wrong. Kettlebells are everywhere at the moment and are a very effective exercise tool. But they’re designed for specific movements, including clean and presses, swings and snatches.
It’s common to see personal trainers making clients use them for all kinds of exercises that they’re not best suited to. If you find your personal trainer is using equipment incorrectly too, then invest in a new one.
Mistake 4: They don’t watch their form.
Chucking weights around without the proper form is inefficient at best, and dangerous at worst. Effective weight training involves controlling your speed and reps. Using low weights and flinging them around won’t achieve much but taking the time to correct your form will pay dividends.
Mistake 5: They don’t know their own limit.
If you’re a regular weight lifter trying to copy elite athletes, you’re risking injury and still not achieving your goals. Copying professional lifters means doing way too many sets and reps for each muscle group and feeling depressed when you don’t get the same results. Go your own way at your own pace and you’ll achieve much more.
Mistake 6: They forget about food.
You can go to the gym as much as you like, but if you’re not feeding your body the nutrition it needs, you will not get where you want to be. Even if you’re working with the best trainer in the world, or with the most effective lifting plan, if you’re eating Big Macs in between sessions then it’s just not going to work.
By working out the best nutritional approach to your goals, you’re giving yourself a much better chance of reaching them. Don’t forget that you will need to keep tweaking your nutrition as your body and fitness change. Put as much time into your diet as you do into your workouts and you’ll be on your way.
Mistake 7: They jump through different routines.
Effective routines mean work and time. So, while you shouldn’t always do the same lifting routine, you also shouldn’t skip around and constantly change it up. Around 12 months is the minimum length of time to bed in a new routine for it to actually strengthen your muscles and work.
Mistake 8: You give up when it takes too long.
When you first start out, you’ll see faster gains in muscle mass. But even then, you can’t expect to transform your body in just a couple of months. And, the fitter you are, the longer it takes to see the changes you’re so desperate for.
All those people you see at the gym with amazing physiques did not get there overnight. It can take years to build the form you see in impressive lifters. The best advice is to learn to love it because you’re in it for the long haul.
Surya Gabriel Iacono
Surya G. Iacono is a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya Iacono’s fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.