3 Mistakes Every New Gym Goer Should Avoid

It’s February, and a month ago you followed our guide on Goal Setting and you made the goal to get healthier in 2023.  You started out great.  You got a gym membership to 24 Hour Fitness, you were going to the gym 4-5 days a week.  It was a struggle, you didn’t really like going but you made yourself do it.  And then something happened and you fell off the wagon.  

A question I want to ask is, “Why didn’t you like going to the gym?”

Was it because you felt confused everytime you entered the gym?  Maybe you were unsure of what to do, where to go, and how to use the equipment. 

After a few weeks of going, a question keeps bouncing around in your head: is this helping?

But you have no clue.

You don’t know if what you’re doing is helping you reach your goals. You’re busting your butt week in and week out–but is it working? Since you’re new to the gym it’s normal to crave answers, to desire knowing what to do.

You want to be successful and finally end the frustration of not looking or feeling the way you want.

Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes made in the gym that limit people’s progress, cause frustration, and ultimately lead to people falling off the wagon.

The three common mistakes are:

1 – Skipping The Warm-Up

Your alarm starts blaring. It’s 5:30 am. Time to roll out of bed and get to the gym by 6:00 am. Unfortunately, your dog won’t go pee and that extra time walking her makes you late.

“Gee dang it,” you think. “I don’t have time to warm up now. I’ll just jump into it.”

Skipping the warm up because you don’t have time (or for any other reason) is common; common, but not ideal. A good warm up not only prepares you for your workout—from an injury prevention standpoint–but also improves the quality of the workout itself.

A good warm up increases your heart rate, which pumps more blood to your muscles. This increase in blood flow—and oxygen—to your muscles helps you to perform better during your workout. Your body is better prepared to handle the rigors of exercise.

Also, the warm up is a great place to improve your range of motion, or mobility, which means you’ll more easily move through full ranges of motion during your workout (and move better in your daily life).

As a last bonus, a good warm up also gives you the chance to practice the movements that you perform in the gym; for example, the Prodigy Fitness warm up has squats in it which allow our members to practice the skill of squatting. This allows them to learn the movement more quickly over time.

2 – Not Having A Plan

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a new-ish member of Prodigy Fitness, who I’ll call Keith. We were discussing how his first program went—he had just finished it that day, and we were chatting about it so I could get feedback to create his next program.

He mentioned a situation we all face when going to the gym for the first time.

“When I went to the gym in the past I had no clue what I was doing,” he said. “There were so many machines and equipment, but I wasn’t sure how they worked. It was overwhelming.”

Then, he said, “That’s why I like having a program here. I don’t have to think. I just need to make it to the door, and if I do, then I know exactly what I need to get done that day.”

Keith wanted what we all crave: certainty.

A program gives you certainty. You know which exercises to do; you know how many sets and reps you’re doing; and you know how many workouts a week to do. You don’t have to attempt to figure out what you’re doing when you get to the gym that day—you already know.

This is great! Want to know what’s even better? Programs that are tailored to you and your goals.

With an individualized program you know that, since it was written for you, it will help you move towards your goals and be a good fit for you.

Here’s a quick caveat: programs aren’t permanent. Programs aren’t perfect. They’re a “best guess” at what will be best for someone. At times, exercises will need to be tweaked or modified, and that’s okay. This is part of why working with a coach is so beneficial, because they can further tailor the program to you after seeing how you do with it.

Without a program though, you have no clue what is working and what’s not. Maybe you made progress doing random things…and that’s great! But eventually progress will slow and it will become harder to make further progress if you do something different each day.

Random workouts aren’t ideal because—if you change exercises constantly—you don’t have a chance to learn the movements. Movements are skills. Skills are learned with practice. If you vary your movements all the time it impacts the frequency of that practice which, in the long run, impacts how quickly you learn them.

When you start out training, find a program—or get one written for you by a coach—so that you won’t have to keep guessing what you need to do each time you get to the gym.

3 – Crushing Yourself Every Session

When most of us start our fitness journey, we want to get “there.” This “there” varies: it might be fitting into a suit we can’t anymore, deadlifting a certain amount of weight, or being able to run around with our kids. And we want to get there as quick as possible.

We figure, if we have a long journey to reach our goals, we should sprint to get there. This looks like jumping into a diet full force and immediately changing all our nutrition habits; it looks like training as hard as possible every time we walk into the gym, often leaving nothing in the tank; and it looks unsustainable.

To get from where we are to where we want to be—takes time. A lot of time.

Let’s say we’ve had trouble sticking to consistent exercise in the past. We get started—by buying some new clothes, signing up for a gym membership, and showing up the first day—but it doesn’t last. Often because we crush ourselves day after day pushing as hard as we can.

We do all the exercises and things and stuff hoping we get results, and that those results come fast. Hard workouts equals fast results is what we believe.

This usually isn’t the case.

In fact, at Prodigy Fitness we talk about and encourage our members to NOT go “all out effort”. We say this for a few reasons:

  • We change best by feeling good, so when we crush ourselves in the gym with grueling workouts that we hate—well, we’re not putting ourselves in the best position to be successful (doesn’t mean workouts are easy, but they aren’t puke-inducingly hard either)
  • Doing less than “all out” workouts means we leave a little in the tank so we can come back in a day or two to workout again
  • Crushing ourselves in training often means going to failure, which means pushing ourselves until we can’t do another rep, but this isn’t helpful in the long run and could possibly lead to injury.

So. Push yourself some. Leave a little in the tank. Live to train another day.

Starting off at the gym can feel confusing. You want to hit your fitness goals, but uncertainty about what to do makes you, well, feel uncertain. You doubt you’ll get there.  When we understand things that negatively impact our progress though—like the three mistakes above—then we are more likely to be successful.  Warm up, follow a plan, and don’t crush yourself every workout. Doing so will help you make quicker progress towards your goals.

And, if you’d like some help with achieving your fitness goals, we would love to help!  Click on the green button on our homepage to claim your FREE week trial with us!