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.


Mistake #5: Being a know-it-all

On the flip side, you may be one of those guys who’s been there and just hasn’t been doing it lately. You may truly have a breadth of knowledge on proper form and techniques, but it's best to keep those opinions to yourself. “Spotting is different than preaching,” says Tommy Konefal, training manager at David Barton Gym Astor Place in NYC. “You don't want the weight of someone's injury on your shoulders. Leave the tips to the professionals.” 

Mistake #6: Overdoing it

“Your first day in the gym is all about one thing: Getting to your second day!” Philips says. We get it: You’re excited to be there and want results right away, but the result you’re gunning for with a too-heavy, too-intense first workout is some pretty serious soreness, or even an injury. “Go easy, stick with simple exercises, and use light weights that you can reasonably do 10 to 12 repetitions with,” suggests Li. In fact, you’ll need to build a base for at least the first month. “The first 4 to 6 weeks of working out are more about your body making the neural pathways to perform the correct movement,” says Melissa Fernandez, Ph.D., a personal trainer based in LA. “After those initial weeks, you can bump up the weights or the cardio level and see yourself excel.”

SEE ALSO: The 4-Week Beginner's Workout Routine

Mistake #7: Speed-lifting

Sure, it’s sometimes called “banging out a set” but that doesn’t actually mean a need for speed.

“You do not want to be on YouTube as ‘that guy using the machine wrong,’” says personal trainer Lori D'Alessandro in Fairfax, VA and owner of The Coach Approach. “Don't use the machines as if they are jackhammers.” Count (in your head) to three for both halves of the movement.

Mistake #8: Not sharing

In several key ways, the gym is not unlike preschool. The first similarity: The equipment is for everyone, which means you can’t hog your favorite machine, particularly if you have long rest time between sets. “Get up and stand next to the machine to show you are in between sets, and allow someone to jump in for a set in between yours if they ask,” D'Alessandro says. That also goes for gym floor space: Keep yourself and your equipment contained and be aware of other people around you.

Mistake #9: Being a slob

Your second preschool lesson: Clean up after yourself! That means putting away your toys (any equipment you use). That also means mopping up any puddles you leave around the cardio machine. “Use a towel to sop it up, or borrow the sweat mop,” says Fernandez.

Mistake #10: Overlooking the germ factor

The gym is full of stuff that people touch. Their noses, mouths, and butts are also things they touch (yep, like preschoolers). Do yourself, your immune system, and your fellow gym-goers a favor and wipe equipment both before and after you use it, and wash your hands immediately after your workout. Also, “never go barefoot anywhere in a gym,” D'Alessandro says. “I'm serious when I say I have seen some nasty infections requiring doctor visits.”

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