I can’t find the right word to describe the noise I heard in the gym that day I witnessed a young guy crash to the floor as he attempted squats.
“Thud” doesn’t quite cut it.
I also have no words to describe the look of shock/fear/embarrassment on the dude’s face.
Fair play to him for giving squats a go, but he had committed sin #8 – ‘not putting safety first’ – in this list of 11 mistakes every gym rookie makes.
Me and my training partner Paul had been at a weight bench doing dumbbell presses or something. The gym was empty otherwise, apart from this young guy who was in the corner about to do squats on the Smith machine.
We never really paid much attention to him…until we heard the bang and saw him lying sparkled on the floor underneath the Smith machine bar!
He either stumbled/fell under the weight to the floor and the bar came down on top of him. It wasn’t crushing him because it sat a good few inches off the floor on the Smith machine pulley but, man, he had the look of fear on his face anyway. He wasn’t hurt, but I doubt he’s done another squat since.
And the valuable lesson from that uber embarrassing/slightly terrifying experience is…always put safety bars/catches in place when doing squats.
Not putting safety first is one of many mistakes I’ve seen gym rookies make over the years. I’ve pulled together my top 11 cardinal sins that less experienced lifters make – so that you can avoid making them too.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve made every one of these errors at some point.
Read on, take note – and then you won’t have to. That will lead to better results. In less time. Without any red-faced moments in the gym 😉
1 Missing out squats
Okay, so I’ve already mentioned a squats scare story – but please don’t let that put you off. (That guy could easily have avoided that slip-up if safety bars were in place as these would have caught the barbell).
The #1 mistake I see most inexperienced weightlifters make is ignoring barbell squats, aka the King of Exercises. It’s the most effective exercise for developing strength and building muscle mass all over your body – not just in the legs.
If you want to see real results in transforming your physique then start squatting. Yesterday. With heavy weight.
Looking for more info? Check out this article – ‘What Do Squats Do?’
2 Doing bicep curls for bigger arms
Wayyy too many people pick up barbells and dumbbells and rattle out bicep curls like crazy in the hope of bigger, better arms.
This is a mistake for two reasons. One – it only isolates the biceps. The triceps muscles make up around two thirds of your arms and therefore it makes much more sense to put more emphasis on exercises that develop these muscles for noticeable growth.
Two – you must mix up your training, rather than focus largely on one single exercise to stimulate growth and development.
Want more details? See this article – ‘How To Build Thick Arms…’
3 Not planning your workouts in advance
Have you ever strolled into the gym with no clue about what you’re actually going to do – and then basically just jumped on whatever machine, or grabbed whatever dumbbells, are free?
Yep, me too. And those are the very workouts where you leave the gym afterwards not really feeling it…because secretly you know it was a half-assed session.
Not planning your workouts in advance always leads to mediocre results because there is no direction and no focus.
Want to learn a better way? Check out this article – ‘Supercharge Your Progress With A Gym Training Diary’
4 Worrying about what other people think
Hitting the gym can be a bit of a catch 22 situation. We want our bodies to look better so we decide that lifting weights is the way to go for sculpting a new physique. Good move.
Problem is, we’re so insecure about our out of shape bodies that we’re secretly terrified about training among people we think are miles ahead of us. I was so skinny when I first started lifting weights that I panicked I would look like a complete weakling in the gym, I’d stand out like a sore thumb, and that other strong guys would be sniggering at me.
Here’s the thing: the gym may have plenty of egos – but that means most of these people you’re worrying about are too wrapped up in themselves to be concerned with you. As for the others, there are also lots of good guys and gals who have huge respect for anyone looking to get fit and strong. And they actually get a kick out of helping gym rookies make progress.
Bottom line – don’t worry about what other people think. Becoming a stronger, healthier, better version of you is all about YOU.
This article might kickstart you into action – ‘Starting Weight Training – Overcoming Mental Blocks’
5 Forgetting your headphones
Hardly a biggie, but this is the one schoolboy error we all make at some point. Let’s be honest, a workout without good tunes is just not a workout.
Forgetting to bring your headphones to the gym usually ends in two slightly depressing ways. A) You decide against training at all because you need yo’ tunes…and can’t run the risk of hearing Justin Bieber on the music channel playing on the gym TV’s. B) You drive all the way home to pick up your headphones, return to the gym annoyed, and then rush through a half-baked workout because you’re now running late.
Want to learn my other top tips for staying on track? Read this – ‘9 Simple Strategies To Ensure You Never Miss A Workout’
6 Thinking more protein = more muscle
The health and fitness world has gone protein crazy, cramming in as much of this single macronutrient as possible in an attempt to build more muscle and keep bodyfat levels low.
Not helping matters is that multi-billion sports supplements industry bombarding us with misinformation about how many grams of protein we need per day to build muscle and achieve our health and fitness goals.
This standard advice that more protein = more muscle is too simplistic, and in some cases irresponsible when people are advised to load up on animal protein and highly-processed shakes containing all sorts of chemicals and additives.
A healthy whole foods diet, with sufficient calories, is the right approach.
Want to learn much more on this? Check out this article – ‘Do We Really Need ALL That Protein?’
The feeling after a good, solid workout is a real buzz. With the rush of endorphins, you get why some people end up obsessed by training.
Some gym rookies may dive in and hit the weights hard 5,6,7 days per week because they’re so desperate to pile on the muscle, or get the six pack abs in time for their holiday.
But training this frequently, at high intensity, usually leads to the same place – burnout.
More is not always better because overtraining can affect your nervous system, lead to stress, and also increase your likelihood of injury.
The body needs sufficient rest for proper recovery and growth. One day on, one day off training is a much better plan of attack.
Want to make solid progress without the risk of overtraining? Follow the advice in this article – ‘How To Avoid Overtraining – Don’t Make These Costly Mistakes’
8 Not putting safety first
We’ve covered this one earlier with the (true) story about the guy doing squats. Always train safely: put safety bars in place, have someone spot you when doing heavy lifts etc.
9 Not listening to your body
Feeling sick, bloated, full of gas regularly is not normal. These are warning signs from the body that it’s having a hard time digesting whatever food and concoction of supplements that are being taken.
Yet you see many of these very complaints from people on online fitness and bodybuilding forums. Asking why they feel crappy and bloated after drinking their whey protein isolate shakes.
Why continue with it if it’s making you feel sick? Listen to your body and put your health first.
10 Spending a fortune on supplements
The sports supplements industry has completely blown up in an age where everyone wants the perfect body – and they want it now.
Aside from a good multivitamin and mineral supplement, creatine and perhaps some protein powder (an organic plant-based option), the rest of your money is pretty much wasted.
A healthy, whole foods diet can provide the tools your body needs to support your gym efforts and health and fitness goals.
Whole foods diet? Find out more by reading this article – ‘Weight Training Diet 101: 5 Steps To Better Nutrition’
11 Not being consistent
The problem with most gym rookies is that they simply don’t stick with the programme long enough to see any results. It’s back to the same point as earlier; we now live in the 21st century where it’s all about instant gratification.
These days we get annoyed if we don’t get a reply to a text within 10 minutes!
Nothing really worth having comes instantly – or easily. Same goes for that awesome physique you’ve been chasing. It won’t come overnight, or over a fortnight, but you can achieve amazing results if you’re consistent with your training and in following a healthy diet.