Common Workout Mistakes To Avoid When You’re at The Gym


Working out daily with a variety of exercises is one of the keys to staying healthy and fit for a lifetime. Although we already know how important exercise is, many of us still make common workout mistakes every day at the gym. This may lead to many harmful effects on our bodies instead of keeping us healthier. Some basic rules need to be followed before we actually start working out. For example, warming up by doing some light cardiovascular training before starting an intense workout is a must to prevent injuries and to allow a gradual increase in our heart rate. However, people just don’t understand the importance of these small things or they just keep on ignoring them out of habit and end up following the same routine again and again. While they enjoy working out using different forms of activities such as aerobics, machine training, yoga or Pilates exercises, they keep making these errors in the gym which end up increasing the risk of injuries and harmful effects on the body.

Below are some of the most common workout mistakes that people make when they walk into a gym. Find out if you are currently committing any of these blunders and make the necessary changes so you can improve your fitness program.

Workout Mistake #1: Not Warming Up Enough
Before we start any of our exercise sessions, we need to perform a thorough warm-up. This is a must because of following reasons:

  • Prepares the body to absorb the stress from the upcoming exercise activities.
  • Increases the blood flow to our muscles including the flow of blood to the heart.
  • Increases the flexibility of our joints by increasing the body’s core temperature.
  • Increases heart rate and body temperature.
  • Helps to prevent injuries.


Warming up with some light cardio exercise for around 10 minutes is all you need to get your body ready. A good rule of thumb is to do some cardio until you break a slight sweat which is a good indicator that your body temperature has risen and you are fully warmed up and ready to take on an intense workout. Warm-up exercises like walking on the treadmill, riding the bike or jumping rope at a slow pace is enough for our bodies to get prepared properly for strenuous weight-bearing exercise. However, don’t go overboard with too much cardio before your regular workout starts. If you do 30-40 minutes of cardio before your weight training workout, you will be burning up too much glycogen (carbs) and you will lose strength and energy before your weight training session ends. Your goal is to use up all of the carbs during weight training and then tap directly into stored body fat by doing a much longer session of cardio (45-60 minutes) after weights to maximize fat loss (not the other way around).

Workout Mistake #2: Lack of Stretching
This is one of the most useful types of activities after our workouts. Doing different stretching exercises with proper technique can be extremely beneficial for overall range of motion, joint flexibility and strength training. Other benefits of stretching include:

  • Improves cardiovascular health: Stretching can lower blood pressure and improve artery function.
  • Improves balance and coordination: Stretching can improve balance and coordination and thus can help to prevent injuries.
  • Reduces lower back pain: Stretching can loosen up stiff muscles like the buttocks, hamstrings, lower back and hips.
  • Improves flexibility: Stretching can increase the range of motion (ROM) and flexibility by increasing the muscle’s length to its maximum limit thereby helping to prevent muscle strains, ligament tears and tissue injuries.
  • Improves circulation: Stretching helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and provides the necessary nourishment to our muscles while working out which can help us to recover faster.

Workout Mistake #3: Improper Form and Technique
Doing any form of exercise with strict and proper technique is much more beneficial than doing a physical workout in the gym or at home doing a specific exercise with incorrect technique and sloppy form. Learning the correct technique for different exercises and movements takes time and requires a lot of motivation, focus and hard work. Using proper form helps to prevent damage or injury (strained and torn muscles) while performing different exercises. For example, extending the knee beyond your toes while lunging or using extra momentum and swinging while lifting heavy weights should be avoided to prevent injuries.


Workout Mistake #4: Ineffective Progression
A common mistake beginners make when starting a workout program is to increase the intensity of exercises too suddenly or exercising way too vigorously in order to achieve certain goals. Good things come to those who wait, so be patient and train hard but make sure to get adequate rest and recovery after your workouts to allow your muscles to repair themselves and grow before hitting them again.

Workout Mistake #5: Poor Goal Setting
Some people may have unusual expectations when following a fitness plan. Lots of people want to achieve their objectives in a week or two and it simply doesn’t happen like that. Achieving an impressive physique takes time, whether its losing 40 pounds and getting lean or packing on 25 pounds of pure muscle, you need to be realistic with your overall goals and the time needed to achieve them.

Workout Mistake #6: Incorrect Machine Positioning
When working out at home or in the gym, we need to adjust every machine we use before we actually start the exercise because different human beings have different body types and requirements (tall, short, fat, skinny). It’s important that we double check each machine to make sure the seat is at the correct height and the positioning of our arms and other body parts are comfortable and in the correct positions to maximize the effectiveness of the movement. If done improperly, the workout can be ineffective by training the incorrect muscles.


Workout Mistake #7: Lack of Cross Training
Many people have the notion that working out at a particular speed or following a specific type of exercise can achieve their target quickly and easily. The fact is that performing a particular set of exercises week after week may lead to both boredom and injury which can result in a severe plateau and stop your progress quickly. It’s always advisable to workout using different exercises, different reps and sets, mixing up techniques and shocking your body into adapting and growing from new stimuli.

Workout Mistake #8: Skipping The Cool Down
We are all busy and many times we perform our regular exercise sessions in a hurry by skipping the cool down period since we want to rush out of the gym as soon as we can. A 5-10 minute cool down session after our workout allows the heart rate to slowly decrease and our body to settle down after an intense training session. Taking 10 minutes to complete 4-5 stretches in a nice quiet area of the gym is an excellent idea for a proper cool down session before you head to the showers.


Workout Mistake #9: Excessive Use of Machines
If you find yourself focused mainly on using machines versus free weights when you’re in the gym, your workout may suffer from this regimen. Don’t be scared to mix it up a little with the big guys in the free weight area a few times a week. It’s great to have a mixture of all forms of exercises in order to train your muscles from different angles and shock them into growth. Try free weights one day, bodyweight training the next, then some machine work and finish off the week by mixing in a kettlebell workout. Variety truly is the spice of life, so try implementing this rule into your workouts for big time results!

Workout Mistake #10: Getting Frustrated
Everyone hits a rough patch once in a while but it’s the way we handle it and how we get right back on track that determines how we finish in the end. It’s critically important to truly listen to your body and take a much needed break when you’re totally burned out from all the hard work you’ve been putting into your fitness program. All the strength training sessions, cardio workouts and strict dieting can take their toll, so when you are feeling the training blues just make sure to be smart enough to know when to take it easy and relax. Taking 3-4 days completely off of all training is not going to derail your efforts. In fact, take a break once in a while is the perfect solution to give yourself a fresh kickstart. Not only will you receive some much needed relaxation and recovery but once you get back into the gym you will feel much more energized with a renewed spirit and mental focus to get after it. So, don’t get frustrated when you hit a plateau and be aware when you feel like one is slowly starting to creep up so you can make an adjustment and overcome it!

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About Author

Suparna Sil

I have a post graduate in Organic Chemistry from Mumbai University in India. I have also completed my Master of Philosophy in chemistry. I finished my MBA in Human Resources and Finance in 2008 and I've also finished several certification courses from various reputable institutes. See my profile page for more information!

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