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If you want to get into fitness and bodybuilding, working with a regular program and following a regime will become a big part of daily life if you want to make lasting physical changes. Spending this time and effort is highly rewarding, but it’s critical to make sure you start on the right path. Making mistakes during the early days of training can have a lasting impact and may even be the cause of injury and unnecessary damage. It’s easy to get into bad habits when starting out in the gym, so be sure to look at your work out habits and make sure they match what’s right for your unique shape and fitness level.

We take a look at the 10 most common mistakes people make when starting out, so you can get that extra edge and start your new training program on the right foot.

1. Plan ahead

Any bodybuilding or workout program achieves the best results when it’s disciplined and well thought out. Progress doesn’t happen overnight, so understanding which results you should start to see and when, will help to keep you on track. It’s central to your progress and development to understand where you want to make the changes to your body. Which areas do you want the changes to be most visible, and which areas are important to you for growth and mass? Keeping focused and working to a plan is the best way to achieve the results you really want and manage your personal expectations by setting clear goals.

2. Look out for straining and overtraining

When you first take the plunge into training, it’s easy to want to see instant results. Motivation levels are always high when you’re beginning something new, making it very easy to overtrain. Overtraining can lead to unwanted aches and strains which will slow your progress down. Overtraining can also cause ‘lock up’ which means your body won’t be able to burn off excess fat and may even retain it. It’s crucial to follow your plan and take precautions to avoid injury.

3. Excessive Cardio

Cardio is great for the heart as long as it’s done in moderation. Overdoing cardio exercises can eat away at the muscle you’re trying to gain. Exercise is a form of stress, so monitoring how often and how much cardio you do is vital. It can even have the opposite effect and actually weaken your heart muscle. If your feeling more tired than usual or not losing fat, then it’s time to take the cardio exercises down a level or two.

4. Meal planning

When your building muscle or embarking on any serious exercise, what you eat can help shape your form. If you want to build muscle mass, then eating foods high in calories and protein several times a day will give your body the nutrients it needs to convert muscle fat into muscle mass. Any exercise program burns calories, so you need to make sure you have enough energy to support your new fitness regime.

5. Conditioning and strength phases

Training each different muscle group regularly each week also helps to train the nervous system. Repetition of exercises encourages the muscles to learn to contract and get used to being used in a different way than they’re used to. The strength phase should last anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks and this is where the intensity of the weights being used is gradually increased. Conditioning increases all round physical abilities including power, strength, balance, agility, coordination, and endurance.

6. Exercise techniques and the right exercises

Exercise sets and reps are not just about numbers but also technique. High numbers of reps build muscle mass. Working across multi-joint movements with the use of combined exercises such as bench pressing, overhead press, bent-over row, squats and deadlifting is the best way to gain total muscles mass rather than just single muscle mass. When using machines and weights make sure that they’re set for your own abilities. It’s important to keep challenging yourself but not by taking on more than you can handle.

7. Splitting your body areas

Different areas of your body require a different focus and different types of exercise. It’s important to look at your form and work on your overall muscle mass so you’re in proportion. The total body split is perfect for beginners new to weightlifting and fitness. The key is to make sure your workout is balanced.

8. Change up your routine

Doing the same thing day in and day out will only work the same muscles. For growth and definition, focus needs to be applied across all the various muscles in both your arms and legs, along with your torso. Switch the days you work each muscle, so they aren’t given time to return to their previous state and get used to being developed and defined.

9. Know your limits

When your brand new to this type of workout, it’s important to recognize you won’t be able to start off doing the same kind of workout as a professional body builder. Gradually increasing the number of reps and the intensity of the weights will lead to long-lasting results that can be easily maintained and further developed.

10. Rest Periods and sleep

The amount of sleep you get has a huge impact on how your body copes with growth and development. If you’re well rested, then you’ll find it easier to stay motivated and deal with a higher amount of physical exertion and exercise. Being tired can slow your reflexes down and injuries are more likely to occur if you’re not fighting fit. Another common mistake is leaving too long between working different sets of muscles, so manage your sleep and rest periods as part of your workout plan.

By taking these 10 things into account when starting out in the gym you’ll give yourself the best chance of maintaining a long-term plan that develops as you do. Training is highly effective and rewarding, so give yourself the best tools to reach your goals and get into the shape you’re aiming for.

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