Some of us can testify that we have on numerous occasions received unsolicited fitness advice in the gym. There are two sides to this. Some of the advice is legit while the rest is just broscience. The solid and legit fitness advice is welcome because it saves us, especially beginners, from making cringe-worthy fitness mistakes.
The first time I signed up for a gym contract, I expected something incredible to happen to my body. How it was going to happen though, I didn’t know and had no proper plan. As a result, I started doing what everyone was doing. I was that girl you often see in the gym who runs on the treadmill for hours on end. If I saw someone with a great body on Youtube, following a certain program, I would hop on (well, for a few weeks and then I would abandon ship and seek something else that would give me faster results).
I would compare myself to others who were far along the fitness journey than I was. This comparison always left me feeling both inadequate and demotivated to carry on with my fitness journey.
It wouldn’t be a strange thing to say that 80% of people in the gym start out almost the same way, as I did, especially if they do not hire a fitness trainer to guide them through at least the first few weeks.
Biggest Fitness Mistakes People Make
Failing to warm up
During my earlier gym days, I used to waltz into the gym and immediately get started with whatever workout I had on my ‘to do’ list for that particular day. I was quite observant and noticed that the seasoned folks would take time to warm up before training so I followed suit and years later, I can say my choice was wise.
Warming up helps prevent injury in that it increases blood flow to the muscles, at the same time increasing the muscles’ temperature which leads to faster muscle relaxation and contraction.
How you should warm up
Depending on your preference, you can warm up for about 5-10 mins with low-intensity cardio or if you are a lifter and like to get straight into moving iron around, you can start off with very light weights and work your way up to your working weight.
Ego lifters put emphasis on how much weight they can lift before form and range of motion. Picture that person in the gym that is always swinging weights while doing bicep curls or that guy that performs partial squats because the weight is more than they can handle. Ego lifters want to impress people that aren’t even interested in how much weight they can lift.
I used to lift with my ego at one point until I got trapped under the bar whilst doing bench press (you are allowed to chuckle). I learned from that and chose not to ever compromise my safety and form again.
Ego lifting increases the chances of injury and that is the last thing you want because that injury will leave you out of the gym for quite a while. Leave your ego at the door, instead focus on getting your form right as well as isolating the targeted muscles in order to get the most out of your workout.
Fitness Mistake: Program hopping
See, most of us want instant results the moment we start training or switch to a new workout program. When that doesn’t happen, we blame the program and look for one that will yield significant results overnight, and so the program hopping continues. Reality is, there’s no program capable of transforming your body in an instant.
To see the effectiveness of any workout plan, you have to learn to practice two things: patience and consistency, in addition to watching your nutrition. If you are in the habit of chasing that ‘best’ program which seems so elusive, you need to know that you are what drives results through consistency and patience. There’s is no perfect program out there. Stay committed, start off with building stability and strength by concentrating on solid compound movements and progress from there.
According to the American Council on Exercise, you can make minor tweaks to a program from four to 12 weeks, but “those with more “hardcore” training goals should stick with programs and exercises for longer amounts of time to get the most from them”.
If you are lost on what program to follow, this article lists some of the best beginner strength training programs that you can follow.
Fitness Mistake: comparing yourself to others
It is healthy, even advisable to look up to someone for fitness inspiration or motivation. But when you start comparing yourself to others, then Houston, we have a problem. Comparing your fitness journey to another person’s will leave you feeling inadequate and defeated and if you are not strong enough, you will stray from the course.
The only person you must pit yourself against is yourself. Fitness is a journey, meaning every day, you are in the process of being better than the person you used to be and that may be both mentally and physically. Along the way, you will encounter people who are in better shape or stronger than you and that is perfectly fine because they are also on their own journey. You must never use people who are several steps ahead of you as a yardstick to your own progress because you do not know the factors that have helped in defining their physiques or overall fitness.
Everybody is different. Be your own competition. Find out what works for you and your body and stick to it. Set goals then demolish them one by one.
5.Fitness Mistake: Ignoring the importance of proper diet
This is the number one fitness mistake that one can ever make. Whatever your fitness goals, diet is the most important part and you can never out train a bad diet no matter how many hours you spend on a treadmill, trying to burn it off.
Once you jump on the fitness mill, the first thing you must sort out is nutrition. I am not for and never will be for cutting out any food groups from your diet. Carbs are great for your body and so are fats, do not be afraid of them. Processed foods, on the other hand, is what you need to be mindful of. Strive to eat whole foods.
Eat the right amount of calories by calculating how many you to need to consume based on your fitness goals. You can consult a dietician for a customised diet plan that fits your health and training needs.