Common gym mistakes (part 2) March 09, 2015 07:00

We're back with more tips on how to fix common mistakes made at the gym ...

From talking with personal trainers, it seems like too many people just go through the motions at the gym. They are either copying what they see others doing (possibly incorrectly), or they aren't focused and are on autopilot (no gains there). Here are some common gym mistakes, and some tips on how to avoid them.


No Workout Order

In terms of exercise selection, new gym members often copy regulars who appear to know what they’re doing in the hopes to maybe one day achieve the same goals. The result is usually random exercises performed incorrectly in a program that is really non-existent.

The Fix: Learn how to execute exercises correctly. Learn about program design and exercise selection. You can do this on your own with some time, or have a personal trainer create a program designed to best fit your needs.

Note that there is no such thing as the “best program.” Each individual will need to reach their personal goals in a way that is custom to them and is sustainable, fun, effective, and safe.

Here are several parameters to look for in a good program:

  • Start every workout with an effective warm up.
  • If doing power or explosive-type exercises, perform them first. These include Olympic lifting variations and plyometrics. They usually take the most focus and coordination, so do them when you’re fresh. Also, you’ll be able to be more explosive when you’re not fatigued.
  • Next, focus on compound exercises, which use more than one joint. Such exercises include squats, deadlifts, rows, bench presses and pull-ups. Machines can be used, but focus on free-weight exercises. It depends on your goals, but free-weight exercises tend to work more muscles, giving you more bang-for-your-buck.
  • Now add in isolation-type exercises. These include biceps curls, triceps extensions, along with some more uncommon movements like stiff-leg deadlifts, back raises and hip thrusts. All these exercise focus on a particular movement about a joint.
  • Lastly, add in some core-specific exercises. These are high-rep exercise or multi-exercise circuit, designed to ramp up your heart rate and essentially, finishes you. Common finishers include high-rep back squats (for the advanced lifter) or a body weight circuit of pull-ups, push-ups, and body weight squats.


Program Hopping

Jumping from one program to the next isn’t always the best idea either. Changing up training variables (sets, reps, breaks, exercises, etc.) from one workout or training phase to the next is referred to as periodization. This variation in training can be great to avoid boredom and staleness, but has to be planned to be effective. Generally randomly changing exercises or program hopping yields sub-par improvements in strength and muscular development and isn’t encouraged.

The Fix: Find a well-balanced program and stick to it for 2-3 months. Follow the overload principle from week to week and re-evaluate. Make slight alterations if you need to, but keep the bulk of the program the same and give the program a chance.


Remember, your time is precious. Make sure you use your designed gym and workout time frames as efficiently as possible. That will help you get the most out of your training.