Common mistakes every gym newbie should avoid

It’s great news that you’ve decided to join a gym, but in order to ensure you enjoy a long-lasting and fruitful partnership, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that many gym newbies make.

When mistakes are made by gym-going rookies, they’re more likely to give up at the first hurdle, or, even worse, suffer an injury. Here are typical scenarios that every gym beginner should shun.

Gym workout

© AntonioDiaz / Adobe Stock


Not having a plan or any goals

Once you’ve signed up for a gym membership, inevitably you’ll be eager to get started, but hold your horses for a moment or two. Think about what you want out of your gym sessions before you start, and formulate specific goals in your mind. Your goals will help you decide which equipment, activities or sessions to focus on when you go to the gym so that you make the most of your time down there.


Pounding the weights

Overenthusiastic gym newbies are also guilty of taking too much on too quickly, which typically leads to burnout. Overdoing it on the weights or machines may also cause a muscle injury. No matter how keen you are to get going, it’s always a good idea to start off slow and steady when you join a gym. Begin using light weights and don’t exceed more than 20 reps per set. Gradually increase your weights as you gain strength so that your body isn’t overstretched and can cope with the challenge. As much as you want to make the most of your gym membership, it’s also essential to factor in rest days to allow your body to recover.


Sticking to the same routine

It’s easy to get into a comfort zone when you join a gym and stick to equipment that you’re familiar with, but you’re unlikely to make gains in the long-term. Switch things up a bit by adding new routines into your workouts and increasing the difficulty rating to keep your body challenged.


Incorrect form

Frequently, new gym-goers don’t use equipment or weights properly, which can hinder their performance and may result in an injury. Having correct form is essential, so newbies should get instruction or advice from a personal trainer or gym instructor before they start. Even using different types of weights requires a slight variation of form, for instance, bigger weights require a different movement compared to smaller weights, while weights used during squats or a bench press will also demand unique forms.


Wasting time

Those that do best at the gym make every second of their workout count, but many new starters fail in this respect. They waste time waiting in queues for equipment, using machines that are spread out or making frequent trips to the water fountain. You can save precious time by having a plan that involves using sequences of equipment close to each other rather than spread out, having alternatives in mind if equipment is occupied, visiting the gym at quieter times and bringing your own water bottle with you.

In your quest to avoid time-wasting at the gym, make sure you respect other users, however. For instance, don’t hog gym equipment or forget to wipe sweat-laden equipment down after you’ve used it.


Unrealistic expectations

There’s a good reason why only 1-2% of January-joining gym newbies are still members after a year. Many new starters expect to see results from their gym sessions overnight, but it doesn’t work like this. It’s essential to have realistic expectations when you join a gym, and to understand that if you want to achieve your goals, you need to be patient and adopt a holistic approach to health and fitness. This means following a healthy lifestyle outside the gym, including eating a nutritious, balanced diet and getting good quality sleep.