Disclaimer: I am not a professional, merely a girl who loves researching fitness and is always at the gym. This is mostly from personal experience and shit people do at the gym. Obviously people who blog or attempt to blog (in my case) about fitness are more knowledgeable than your average doing-curls-in-the-squat-rack bro.
Onto the list!
No clear goals. Your routine for training for a powerlifting competition should look very different from training for a marathon or a plan dedicated to weight loss. People operate better when they have a goal to actively train or work towards, whether that is run X miles in Y time, or squat 1.5x bodyweight – you need something to push yourself towards. Otherwise you end up not challenging yourself to increase the mileage or the weights.
I’ve been sucked into fuckaroundtitus and seen zero gains in either strength or endurance or speed for years! I’d head to the gym and force myself through 30 min on a cardio machine and a few sit-ups and wonder why I was still skinny-fat. No measurable goals = no push = no progress.
Neglecting body parts during strength training or strength training all together. It doesn’t matter if you are a marathon runner or an elite stairclimber or champ of your rec ping-pong league – strength training can benefit your sport of choice, improve your posture, and create that illusive “tone” everyone is looking for. So let’s say you do decide to start a weights regime – do not neglect any muscle groups. If you feel like that’s daunting hitting every tiny muscle, remember that compound lifts work best and you do not need to isolate everything.
Doing too much or something too complicated. Don’t try to be the best at everything – strength gains and distance running are not counterproductive per se, but distance running and excessive cardio does hinder and impede strength and muscle gains. Don’t try to do hours of cardio, and weights, and yoga, and zumba, and be surprised when you’re injured, worn out, or your body is still stagnant!
I was struggling with increasing weights on my squat – my legs always felt like lead and even struggled through 5×5 with a lighter weight. Then on Sunday, I effortlessly added 15lbs to my squat – how? I didn’t run the day before. See usually I lift WFSu, run/HIIT TThSa, and rest or yoga on M. Phew, that is exhausting!! I had been doing intense cardio too, like hill sprints, or distance runs (6mi for me is a lot!), and my legs would be sore everyday. Though I enjoy running and am running a 10mile in 3 months, my main goals are strength related. In order to be happy with my strength goals, I have to give up a little bit of running that I enjoy.
Exercises that are too complicated fall under this mistake too.
Stick with the basics – they work for a reason! The experts and pros do squats, deadlifts, bench, OHP, pullups, pushups, etc. Just because your entire body burns while you do the exercise, and it uses 5 pieces of equipment doesn’t mean it’s more efficient. If you want that extra umph or burn, try supersetting complimentary exercises with no rest in between.
Forgetting about form. It’s great to push yourself and increase the weights frequently, but you can’t sacrifice form. ‘Nuff said.
Being obsessed with finding the BEST exercises and the HEALTHIEST foods to the point where it is harmful. At a certain point, stressing over what you are eating and falling into crazy health fads (even if some of them do have merit) becomes worse than keeping it simple. Same with working out – worrying over if intervals of 20s on/10s off, or 30s on/1min off, etc are more beneficial than the other; if despite all evidence pointing to no magic workouts or shortcuts to get [insert perfect body part here] you still scour the internet for advice and fitness magazines for tips; if in the search for the perfect diet you cut out 80% of all food groups and subsist on vegetable juice (fruit has way too much sugar guys) and dried veggie pulp mixed with raw seeds.
You might have a problem.
Comparing yourself to others (and letting that get you down). Everyone is different! Some people build muscle, lose fat, gain strength, etc, faster than others. Genetics play a huge role – comparing yourself to others will just make you lose your focus and momentum on making yourself awesome.
Like I said, I’m not a professional. I’m not perfect. But I do know that if you keep it simple – eat whole foods when you’re hungry, keep moving, engage your muscles – you can lead a healthy life and actually experience the stress reducing benefits from eating healthier and working out.