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Have you promised yourself that 2017 is the year you’re finally going to sort your body out and get in great shape?

Build some muscle, reveal the abs that are hiding in there somewhere, get in a proper gym routine that actually lasts this time around?

New Year’s fitness resolutions are nice. Positive thoughts are really, really nice.

Problem is, most guys fail with their fitness resolutions because they make some (or all) of the mistakes listed in this article.

And, if you’re honest with yourself, there’s probably still that wee bit of doubt in your mind too that you can actually make it happen. Especially if you’ve already tried in the past and got nowhere.

One of my online personal training clients, a 32-year-old dad, told me last week: “I was always fired up at the beginning of the year to get myself in good shape, add muscle to my upper body and lose my gut.

“I’d buy new training shoes and clothes, and go out running for miles 4-5 days per week.

“Then I’d get bored. The results just didn’t come quickly enough and I got fed up. Within a few weeks I wasn’t exercising because it felt pointless and I was back eating garbage again feeling sorry for myself.”

Back then the biggest mistake he was making was #3 in this list below – training ineffectively.

While it may burn some calories, running does zilch for building muscle and improving overall body composition. Also, training five days per week is unnecessary and is hard to maintain in the long term for most guys, never mind a father-of-two.

He’s made more progress now in the past month than at any point in his life by cutting out previous mistakes and taking a different approach to his fitness and diet.

2017 can be different for you too if you avoid the seven mistakes listed below. It’s a blueprint for making your New Year’s fitness resolution stick – and becoming a stronger, healthier, better version of yourself.

Mistakes Guys Make With Their New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

#1 Not being clear about goals

It ain’t good enough just to say, “I want to get in better shape” or “I need to lose a few pounds and I’ll be happy”.

Hardly inspiring either, is it? Your fitness goals need to be clear, specific and measureable.

Fed up being too thin and want to gain muscle? Your goal could be to gain 6lbs in 12 weeks and add two inches to the thickness of your arms, for example. That’s clear, specific and you can measure it at the beginning and end of the 12 week period.

#2 Not working from a clear training plan

Training without a proper plan is like turning up to work wearing only Y-fronts and a tie. It won’t end well and you’ll probably end up feeling a bit stupid.

A training plan keeps you focused, gives you direction, and provides extra motivation.

On the other hand, if you arrive at the gym with the intention of just using whatever equipment is free, you’ll almost certainly have a half-assed workout. You’ll get little satisfaction from your training and will be less likely to bother turning up next time.

Simple tip: buy a pocket sized diary and spend 10-15 minutes every Sunday scheduling your training sessions and planning out your exercises for the week.

Take it with you to the gym and mark up how you performed, always aiming to improve next time around.


#3 Training ineffectively

I named my website Weight Training Is The Way because lifting weights is the most effective way to: build muscle, burn fat, improve overall body shape, bone density, develop strength, improve cardiovascular health, mental health….all at once.

Whether you’re a man, woman, reptile…you should be lifting weights. The benefits are too numerous to mention.

On the other hand, standard cardio such as running, jogging, cycling, aerobic fitness classes, don’t tick nearly as many boxes.

And if muscle gain is one of your fitness aims then you’re wasting your time with these forms of exercise.

#4 Messing up your calorie intake

I won’t state the obvious by banging on about how important it is to eat healthy foods and limit the junk.

But diet is also a numbers game. Going back to the example earlier of setting a goal of gaining 6lbs and adding a couple of inches of muscle to your arms.

This will be impossible without eating more food every day to increase calories. The body must take in more calories than it burns to allow for weight gain and proper muscle development.

Want an easy way to figure out how many calories you should be eating based on your fitness goals? The MyFitness Pal app does it for you – and it’s free. You can grab it at MyfitnessPal.com.

#5 No accountability

The chances of achieving your fitness goals are 10x more likely if you have someone holding you accountable.

Someone to check that you’re taking action consistently. Someone who can help keep you on track. Someone else you don’t want to disappoint rather than just yourself.

A fitness coach/personal trainer is the number one choice as they provide accountability – and the best advice to help you hit your goals much sooner.

But if you don’t have the cash, then it’s a great idea to hook up with a friend/workmate as a training partner so you can keep each other on track.

#6 Not measuring progress

Always set a clear starting point by taking ‘before’ pictures wearing shorts only. (Nobody likes these being taken but they’ll help motivate you into action).

The photos are also important for tracking your progress visually.

Also take a note of other key measurements based on your goals. Want to gain or lose weight? Jump on the scales.

Want to lose weight around your gut? Get the measuring tape out.

Take a new photo after each month, along with body measurements, and compare.

#7 Being impatient

Don’t believe all the hype you read on the front of men’s fitness magazines.

“Beach ready abs within 3 weeks” ain’t gonna happen. And no you won’t be “built like Wolverine” with their new six week training programme either.

Here’s a much better idea: be patient. Getting in great shape takes hard work, consistency and time.

Results don’t happen overnight but they will happen if you stick with the right training programme, eat well and avoid making the same mistakes as most other guys kickstarting their New Year’s fitness resolution.

What to do next?

>> Buy a pocket sized diary, write down your fitness goals clearly and give yourself a deadline for achieving them. (3-4 months is a good time frame).

>> Get signed up at your local gym (most have deals on at this time of year) and focus on the weight training exercises listed in this article – Compound Exercises: Bigger Movements, Better Results.

>> Spend 10-15 mapping out your first week of training in the diary. One day on, one day off training is ideal.

>> Download the MyFitness Pal app and start tracking your calories based on your personal fitness goals.

>> Find a training partner – or coach.

>> Work hard. Stay consistent. Be patient.


  1. Phil says:

    Good article Marc.

    I also find setting at least two, (three is better) behavioural actions to go with each goal can help a lot too. Some of your 7 points or bevahiur based, but I’m thinking being more specific for each goal.

    For example your goal may be to achieve <15% body fat in 3 months. Your behavioural actions maybe:
    – No more than 4 glasses of alcohol per week (or zero)
    – Consume < 2000 Kcal per day
    – Ensure have three strength sessions per week with heavy combo moves

    If you hit these three behavioural actions, your chances of success will also be significantly enhanced…

  2. Marc McLean says:

    Couldn’t agree more Phil !

    I like to recommend introducing 1 positive habit per week, and then build upon these, to help guys hit their goals. i.e. week 1 – make sure you hit your calorie target for 7 days. Week 2 – same again, but also swap sugary drinks for water for the next 7 days…etc.

    Happy new year mate!