Are you struggling to see results regardless of how much work you put in inside and outside of the gym? Well if this is you. I get it, I’ve been there. There are many fitness mistakes that I’ve made.
Below is a picture of me when I was making every mistake in the book.
But the good news is that there are simple solutions to these mistakes. Below is a picture of me of late, significantly stronger and at a lower body fat percentage as opposed to the picture above.
In this article, I mention the 10 biggest fitness mistakes that I made and what to do instead.
The 10 Biggest Fitness Mistakes I Made
1. I Didn’t Track My Workouts.
2. I Did Too Many Isolation Exercises And Not Enough Compound Exercises.
3. I Didn’t Keep Track Of My Nutrition.
4. I Wasn’t Consistent Enough To Get Results.
5. I Didn’t Follow A Warm-Up Routine.
6. I Had Cheat Days Instead Of Cheat Meals.
7. I Didn’t Learn Proper Exercise Form.
8. Program Hopping. I Didn’t Stick To A Program For Long Enough.
9. I Didn’t Take Measurements And Keep Track Of My Weight.
10. Following The Wrong Program For My Circumstances.
Now let’s go into further detail about each one.
Fitness Mistakes – 1. I Didn’t Track My Workouts
The most important thing you need to do, when you go to the gym is to go there with a plan.
For example, every time I go to the gym I know how many reps, sets and exercises I need to do.
This is all determined upon the program that I’m following.
If you want to avoid this pitfall make sure that you’re tracking your workouts on a note pad or a workout app. Although it doesn’t matter which one you use.
Then, for the following workout try your hardest to get stronger by adding reps with the same weight or adding more weight to the bar. A simple way to do this is to use double progression or linear progression. Read my intermediate muscle building program free ebook for a detailed system on how to do this. Linked below.
This is because the key to building muscle and strength is progressive overload.
If you’re not tracking and getting stronger at your workouts you won’t be progressively overloading your muscles and thus not making progress.
In fact, when I used to go to the gym I just trained any muscle group I felt like training.
For that reason, I didn’t achieve the results I wanted.
Little did I know I wasn’t training, I was exercising. Training is when you have a goal in mind and your training facilitates it. This could be a strength goal like bench pressing 300 pounds or a cardio goal, such as running a marathon.
There’s nothing wrong with exercise. But training is where the real results take place.
Look at the infographic below for a more in depth explanation of training vs exercise.
Fitness Mistakes -2. I Did Too Many Isolation Exercises And Not Enough Compound Exercises
Again, this was a big one for me. Compound exercises give you more bang for your buck than isolation exercises.
The reason for this is because compound exercises target more muscle than isolation exercises. If you were to target the same muscles that compound exercises target with isolation exercises alone. This would result in you having to perform many isolation exercises to reap the same benefits. And spend more time in the gym.
Furthermore, Isolation exercises do have their place. Although only after you’ve performed the big compound exercises. For example, Movements like the bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and squat. These movements train your whole body.
The Effectiveness Of Compound Exercises
Firstly, there was a study done by Ball state university where two groups trained for 10 weeks. secondly, Both groups did 4 compound exercises respectively.
Although one group added bicep and tricep isolation work.
Both groups built muscle and strength but neither group had bigger arms.
That is to say, the group who did extra isolation exercises didn’t gain any extra muscle.
Furthermore, this just goes to show the magic of compound exercises.
Start Building Your Whole Body Strength By Getting Strong At The Big 5
The big 5 lifts are the deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press, and chin-ups. These lifts are compound exercises and increase your whole-body strength. Get good at them.
Fitness Mistakes – 3. I Didn’t Keep Track Of My Nutrition
To get in shape you need to get your nutrition, training and recovery all in order.
You can’t have one without the other. Getting in shape requires that you do a lot of small things right. Things such as eating the right amount of protein, getting enough calories from good, healthy, nutritious foods, pushing yourself hard in your workouts and recovering appropriately.
If you want to get in shape you can’t skimp out on your nutrition.
You Must Track Your Calories For Your Goals
If you don’t track your calories and macronutrients, you’ll just be feeling around in the dark. And guesstimating if what you’re doing is right.
Whereas if you took a more logical approach and tracked your calories for your goals whether that’s for fat loss or muscle gain then you’re going to make progress much faster than if you followed a fad diet or just tried to “eat clean”.
To find out the right amount of calories and protein for you. Read the articles below.
To set up your calories for muscle gain.
Tracking Doesn’t Just Apply To Losing Fat
If your goal is to build muscle and get stronger you must track. If you don’t then it will be very hard to reach your calorie surplus so that you can build muscle.
I Thought I Needed To “Eat Big To Get Big”
This saying does have some merit. But only to a propionate degree. You only need to eat slightly more calories than you’re burning (10% more calories than you burn) to build muscle.
Anything more than this is overkill and you’ll lessen the amount of time you spend bulking (building muscle) because you’d of gained too much fat too quickly. Meaning you’ll have to eat in a calorie deficit and lose fat again which will result in less time being in a calorie surplus and building muscle.
You Can Only Build So Much Muscle In A Given Time Frame
If you eat more than a slight calorie surplus you won’t gain more muscle. You’ll gain more fat.
This is because you can only build a certain amount of muscle in a given time frame depending on how advanced of a lifter you are.
For a great article on this read the article below by Lyle McDonald.
Fitness Mistakes – 4. I Wasn’t Being Consistent
If you’re not consistent you’re not going to get results. This is because consistency leads to results.
The real work boils down to just being consistent with the fundamentals, things such as hitting your calories and protein and getting stronger at your main compound exercises. If you do that then you’ll make progress, guaranteed.
Make being consistent as easy as possible.
If you do these 2 things you’re certain to make progress.
If all you did was:
1.Get stronger in your workouts.
2.Track your calories and protein towards your goals, you’d do amazing.
This is the 20% that gives you 80% of the results.
I Wasn’t Consistent Because I Didn’t Follow A Plan
Nowadays I plan my workouts months and even a year in advance. You have to do this if you want to get results. You simply can’t randomly walk into the gym, and do whatever you like and expect to make progress.
Unless you’re a newbie. But you won’t make progress for very long following this approach.
Here’s a free push, pull legs program that if followed correctly works.
Fitness Mistakes – 5. I Didn’t Follow A Proper Warm-Up Routine
When I first started lifting you couldn’t tell the difference between my warm-ups and working sets.
There was just no system in place.
You can learn from my mistake.
Your warm-up doesn’t have to be complicated. But it does need to achieve 2 purposes.
- To raise the temperature of the tissue being used for the specific exercise.
- To help you groove in the proper movement pattern and practice before you do your hard sets.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to warm up for 30 minutes before you start lifting weights. What you do need to do is work with submaximal weights to warm up the muscles, the surrounding tissue and practice the movement before you perform your heavy sets.
Here’s a simple warm-up routine I use for myself and for my clients.
First warm up set – 50% of your working weight for 8-10 reps.
Second Warm up set – 70% of your working weight for 3-4 reps.
Third warm Up Set – 90% of your working weight for 1-2 reps.
This is what it looks like for barbell squats with a work set weight of 220 pounds or 100 kg
First warm up set – 8-10 reps with 50 kg or 110 pounds.
Second warm up set – 3-4 reps with 70kg or 154 pounds.
Third warm up set – 1- 2 reps with 90kg or 198 pounds.
Fitness Mistakes – 6. Having Cheat Days Instead Of Cheat Meals
I know, the allure of a cheat day sounds delightful. But it’s just going to derail your progress. I know, I’ve been there.
One day of eating whatever you feel like whenever you feel like can easily wipe out a few days of dieting. Or can dramatically increase the rate at which you store fat when you’re in a calorie surplus when you’re building muscle.
For example, let’s say that you’re a man/ woman with a total daily energy expenditure (the number of calories you burn daily) of 2000 calories ( I use this number because its easier to get my point across). Although men normally burn more calories than women.
And for the past 4 days Monday to Thursday, this individual has been eating in a 25% calorie deficit. Eating 1500 calories which is a 500 calorie deficit per day.
Over the past 4 days, this individual has accumulated a calorie deficit of 2000 calories.
But as you can see on the infographic this individual has eaten 2000 calories over his maintenance on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday he’s eaten at maintenance this results in the calorie deficit of 2000 calories being wiped out and no total fat loss occurring that week.
Now can you see why it’s important that you stay in a calorie deficit over the whole week. And how quickly you can wipe out your progress on the weekend with a couple of cheat days.
It’s Much Better If You have A Cheat Meal
If you have a cheat meal you can fit your cheat meal into your daily calories. Thereby still getting to your fat loss goal.
Fitness Mistakes – 7. Not Learning Proper Form
When I first started lifting weights 2 exercises didn’t come naturally to me, those exercises where deadlifts and squats. These exercises are the most technically demanding out of all the exercises you can possibly do.
Although the bench press and military press are also technical exercises they’re not as technical as the barbell squat and deadlift.
The solution for this mistake is easy. Learn proper form.
A good general book recommendation for learning proper form is strength training anatomy by Fredric Delavier. Linked below. Mark Rippetoe’s book starting strength is also invaluable as a new lifter.
Fitness Mistakes – 8. Program Hopping
This was a big mistake that I made over and over. If I just stuck to a well-structured program from the instant I started lifting weights, I would have gotten where I am now quicker.
The solution for this is simple. Pick a well-structured program based on sound principles and stick to it for an extended period of time. Preferably one year.
Fitness Mistakes – 9. Not Tracking My Measurements And Weight
When I first started lifting weights I didn’t think that the scale really mattered, or that I needed to be keeping track of my measurements like my waist circumference, body fat percentage and more.
The more seasoned I’ve become in this game of lifting weights and improving my health, the more I’ve come to appreciate the necessity of tracking my:
- Scale weight.
- Waist measurements.
- Body fat percentage.
- Progress pictures.
Many people solely focus on scale weight. But this metric doesn’t give you the whole picture.
For instance, if your weight has stayed the same, yet your waist has got smaller. You’ve lost fat. And if fat loss is your goal, you’ve made progress.
This is because you tend to store a lot of fat around your mid section. This is called subcutaneous fat.
And when your waist measurement decreases this is an indicator that you’ve lost fat.
Fitness Mistakes – 10. Following The Wrong Program For My Circumstances
A few years ago when I first started lifting I bought the legendary encyclopaedia of bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Linked below.
It’s a great book. But the training didn’t suit my lifestyle. The training called for working out 6x per week. And the workouts were no walk in the park either. They were long workouts with sometimes 11 exercises per session.
It’s fair to say that this way of training didn’t fit my lifestyle. And at the time I was working nightshifts and long weeks, so it was very hard to do.
I see this all the time, especially in new lifters. They’re raring to get started and they think that more training is better. It’s not.
Better is better.
Most natural lifters will do fine working out 3-5 times per week. And most have no reason to work out 6-7 times per week. This is the point of diminishing returns.
The Bottom Line On My Biggest Fitness Mistakes
- These are just a few of the mistakes that I’ve made in pursuit of trying to improve my fitness and health. By learning from them you’ll save yourself time and improve your fitness and health faster than you can dream of.
- No matter where you are in your fitness journey. You’ll make mistakes. In pursuit of any goal, it’s bound to happen. Just stay consistent and learn from them.
- Did you run into any of these mistakes? Or if you’ve made some mistakes that aren’t in this article let me know by sending me an email at email@example.com and ill help you to the best of my ability.
Thanks for reading. What do you struggle with in pursuit of a healthier body and life?