Many people start their year off buying a gym membership and new gym attire. While the first step to transforming your body is, in fact, deciding to commit to restructuring your lifestyle at the gym and in the kitchen, it is common for people to make mistakes that jeopardize their progress. These mistakes can chip away at their enthusiasm to work out and ultimately result in people giving up on their goals.
“As a trainer, my job consists of helping clients assess where they are and where they want to be. Giving them a clear pathway helps avoid mistakes that often cause people to quit too soon and forfeit their goals,” says Vince Sant, the co-founder and lead trainer of online training platform V Shred. Sant says these are some of the most common mistakes people make when starting off their fitness journey.
Failing to Assess Your Body
“Trainers and gym staff see this all the time,” says Sant. “People who are new to working out and get a few workouts from a friend and head into the gym without analyzing their bodies with a trainer.” This becomes harmful because these people are not trained to pinpoint their body’s imbalances, where their weaknesses lie and how their body is compensating subconsciously. “They go to the gym pay for the membership and spend months doing exercises incorrectly and damaging their joints and their back.”
Failing to Set Realistic Goals
Nowadays a lot of people scroll through social media and try and mimic the amount of weight being lifted and want a six pack in two weeks. Contrary to popular belief, fitness models and trainers don’t start off deadlifting 200 lbs. They train for months, maybe years, to perfect their form. When you set major goals with an unrealistic time frame you are setting yourself up for disappointment. “A lot of what a trainer does is manage your goals and give you honest timelines to get you there. We cheerlead you through the rough times and the plateaus,” says Sant.
Consistency is Key
New gym goers lose their excitement over working out a few weeks in. They start skipping workouts and making excuses. This will add to the time it will take for you to reach your goals and may even hinder your enthusiasm overall. Push yourself through the first few months of working out and eating nutritiously. Make a habit out of working out. Consistency will become easier once you start seeing those desired results.
Delaying Your Workouts Into The Night
We get it. People work tremendously hard and they have errands to run and people to care for. People want to sleep as much as possible. “Here’s a pro tip: If you want consistency to be an easier hurdle to overcome… plan to workout in the morning,” says Sant. “In life, things come up and schedules change. The morning will always be more available than your night. We also tend to make more excuses at night and let things override our plans to work out.”
Giving Up When You Hit A Plateau
If you hit a plateau it means you have consistently been doing the same routine for an extended period of time. Kudos for the consistency, but that is just one part of getting the results you want. “You need to learn or get guidance on how to effectively change your workouts to continue challenging your muscles and prevent your body from falling into a comfort zone with your regular routine,” explains Sant.
Overdoing the Cardio
Don’t misunderstand, cardio is an important part of any fitness journey especially one that is centered around weight loss. However, in the eagerness of the first few weeks people who start going to the gym concentrate overwhelmingly on cardio and needlessly exhaust their body. Trainers see it all the time, people who spend 2 hours on the elliptical. You’d be better served to do a 30-minute cardio session followed by light weights and circuit training. Remember you want to strengthen the muscle as well.
When you are working on weight training you have to educate yourself on what exercises belong in a superset together and how much is wise to lift when shooting for a certain amount of repetitions. “Gym goers often lift too heavy making it difficult to complete a set or too light, failing to challenge the muscle,” says Sant.
Record Your Progress
Failing to record the amount of weights and repetitions per set that you can lift per movement easily leads to plateaus and lack of interest. If you don’t record what you are doing then you have no way of increasing intensity meaning you will not get any better. “Working out without a clear goal for each movement can become boring,” says Sant. “You lose interest and consciousness about what you are doing. Record what you are doing, perform it consistently and then increase intensity to avoid plateaus.”
For many, stretching is common sense. Many people still ignore the importance of it. Working out without stretching can lead to reduced muscle mind connection, poor form and muscle strain. Stretching helps your range of motion and aids in preparing you mentally and physically for the workout ahead.
Failing to take an Active Rest Day
Many people go all out the first few weeks of their fitness training looking desperately for quick results. This is not wise. Taking a rest day allows your muscles to heal. An active rest day is a day where instead of training at full power you incorporate some sort of low-intensity cardio or HIIT training. This way you keep your body active and don’t let any soreness settle in while still resting from your much more comprehensive workouts.