Workout Tips

14 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid This Year

Planning a New Year's resolution to get back to the gym (or maybe to get to the gym for the first time)? Here's what you need to know before you go.

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Call it a resolution or a reassertion, getting into the gym—or back to it—isn’t always easy. There’s figuring out what to do, how to do it, and how not to be that guy while you do. And, ya know, there’s also that real potential for injury if you don’t go about doing it safely. These tips from top trainers will get you mentally and physically ready for the strength-training, cardio-boosting rigors housed within those four concrete walls.

Mistake #1: Having tunnel vision

If the gym is new to you or even if it’s just been a while, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t take a minute to look around and see what your options are. Take the membership advisor up on her offer for a guided tour, or ask a trainer to show you around. Oftentimes, people will beeline for whatever equipment or weight machines they’re used to, ignoring everything else—including lots of things that offer a real benefit. Plus, once you know where everything is, you can get down to business more efficiently. “Do a bit of a ‘walk through’ in your head of your workout,” says Michele Burmaster, personal trainer and owner of Surf City Fit Club in Huntington Beach, CA. “You’ll feel more confident by being prepared.”

SEE ALSO: 6 Nutrition Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #2: Being aimless

It’s pretty simple: no plan, no progress. “Simply saying, ‘I wanna lose this gut’ is not a plan,” says Rui Li, owner of CakeFit, a personal training service in NYC. If your aim is weight loss, you’ll need a good program designed to help you lose the weight. It’s probably better not to rely on YouTube as your trainer, says Michelle Collier, certified personal trainer and owner of Performance Fitness in Wynnewood, PA. “ YouTube is a great resource, but not everyone who posts a video is demonstrating exercises that are safe and effective.”  And when you're in the gym, feel free to ask a real-life trainer for some suggestions. “It’s ok to admit when you are clueless,” Li says. “I know it hurts the ego, but it's better than hurting the knees, or shoulders, or back.”

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Mistake #3: Dissing the trainers

Fact: When trainers talk to you, they are probably hoping to make a sale. Another fact: They also genuinely want to help you. So rather than blowing them off, make friends with them! “Many gyms offer a complimentary session with a new membership,” says Joseph Phillips, a personal trainer in Bethesda, MD, and the co-founder of the social competitive app HEAT Running. “Do it!” At the very least, you’ll learn a few new exercises. At the most you’ll make a (very knowledgeable) fitness pal.

Mistake #4: Being a copycat

Just because that dude looks how you want to look doesn’t mean that what he’s doing will get you there. Newsflash: Our bodies are all different, and your goals need to be based on the realities of your genetics. What’s more, “he could be doing things that may not fit in with your current fitness level, or even things that are dangerous,” Phillips says.

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