Common gym mistakes – and how to fix them

common gym mistakes

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We've all been there as gym newbies, committing these common gym mistakes. But you can learn from them to reach your goals. Here's how.

We’ve all been that gym newbie who is keen to get started and enthusiastic about getting stuck in, but there are some common gym mistakes that everyone makes as we get a little too excited about our newfound fitness journey. Here are some of the most common gym mistakes, and how to overcome them.

common gym mistakes


Thinking everyone is looking at you

This is something that all gym newbies struggle with. When you’re new and you’re not confident in what you’re doing it’s only natural that you’re hyperaware of what you’re doing. But here’s the thing – no one else is.

Let’s face it, we’re all completely self-involved and unless you’re singing at the top of your lungs, have come to the gym butt naked or aren’t re-racking your weights (tut tut), then chances are that no one is looking at you. 

Focus on yourself, and forget about everyone else (unless of course they’re singing, naked, or aren’t following proper weight etiquette). Easier said than done? Absolutely, but it’ll get easier with time as you get more comfortable and more experienced.

Not having a plan

The gym can feel a bit like a playground, and you might be tempted to bounce from machine to machine willy nilly. And while yes, you’ll be exercising, if you don’t have a proper plan you might not be getting the most out of your time at the gym. We’re all busy, and your time is too precious to be messing around in the gym for an hour without getting real results.

You need a plan. If you’d rather get something that is bespoke and personalised to you, try working with a personal trainer (your gym will undoubtedly have personal trainers on staff, or be able to point you in the direction of one). Personal trainers can be expensive, yes, but if you find a good one they can be worth their weight in gold. 

They can help you get the most out of your workouts by giving you a workout plan that helps you to work on what’s important to you – whether that’s losing fat or building muscle. 

If you don’t fancy working with a personal trainer, there are many routines available online. As with anything that’s out there for free on the web, be cautious and remember that not all routines are right for everyone.

The Reddit community r/Fitness is extremely helpful and has a lot of information, both within the subreddit itself and on its comprehensive Wiki page. This list of recommended routines is a good place to start to find a routine. 

common gym mistakes


Not warming up properly

It’s REALLY important to warm up properly before you exercise, and that goes for whether you’re on the football pitch or in the gym. Warming up helps to prepare your body for exercise, slashing your risk of injury and helping to increase your flexibility. Click here to read more about why it’s so important to warm up, and for a dynamic warm-up routine.

Before you start your gym session, make sure you spend 10-15 minutes warming up first. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to achieve much more in your workout if your body is ready for exercise. Cool down afterwards too, to give your body a chance to gradually get back to normal.

Buying into being a gym bunny

Gym accessories is a billion-dollar industry, and you can buy all sorts of stuff to help enhance your gym experience. But it’s really not necessary, especially when you’re just starting out. You’re already paying loads for your gym membership, so don’t spend more if you can’t afford to. 

You’ll need something to wear (t-shirt plus shorts or joggers, preferably both made of sweat-wicking, breathable material), a good pair of trainers, a water bottle, a towel for wiping down the equipment after you’ve used it and a bag to shove it all in. It doesn’t have to break the bank – we like Decathlon for wallet-friendly, size-inclusive sportswear. 

And on that note, you don’t need protein powders, pre-workouts, or any of that stuff unless the time comes when you want to experiment with pushing your workouts further. And even then, it’s debatable for recreational exercisers whether you even need it or not, when for most people a cup of coffee and a granola bar can provide the same energy benefits. That’s according to MyFitnessPal, which has an excellent deep dive into pre-workout supplements here

common gym mistakes


Sticking to one type of exercise

As we mentioned above, the gym is like a fitness playground. It’s rammed full of all sorts of equipment, from your run of the mill exercise bikes and treadmills to the more novel (but fun and very effective) stair climbers, ski machines and TRX machines.

Joining the gym means you get a fantastic opportunity to shake up your exercise by taking advantage of everything it has to offer, so it makes sense that you should really make the most of this by trying out as many different things as you can. 

Now, you might be wondering how this fits in when just a few paragraphs before this one we warned against exercising without a plan. You can absolutely plan to fit in different types of exercise, and that will only boost your fat loss. 

Any gym worth its salt will have a decent selection of weights, so instead of sticking to cardio for days on end, switch it up by throwing in a few weight training days. This will mean that you get the most out of your gym and it’ll keep your body guessing, ensuring that you work on all areas of your body.

These common gym mistakes are probably committed by all gym members at one point or another, so don’t worry if you recognise yourself in any of the above points. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, after all, but correcting those common gym mistakes will mean that you can go on to have a long and happy time at the gym.


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