You’ve done the first part – psyched yourself up, bought some new running shoes, some awesome new outfits and now you’re ready to smash it. Well done you! Totally keep up that mentality, but make sure you don’t make these common mistakes when first starting to exercise.
Crucially important. Something you’ll notice after you’ve got a bit of experience in the gym is where people are using incorrect form to do some of the lifts, and in doing so risking serious injury!
I would suggest taking a look at our beginners guide to lifting weights first to see how to do some of the simpler exercises with weights, with correct form! If you fancy trying your hand at some other exercises which aren’t in that post, then use Google. Google is your friend here, there will be videos, images, walkthroughs etc on numerous exercises, which will guide you through correct form to reduce chance of injury.
Correct form not only reduces the chance of injury, but also makes sure the exercise is working the intended muscle. If you have incorrect form on a certain exercise, you may end up working out a completely different muscle (depending just how wrong your form is!).
If you’ve got to the gym and want some help with some exercises, then just ask one of the more experienced members or a member of staff, people are generally always more than happy to help out a fellow gym goer (and show off their expertise).
Quite often, you will on your first week decide you can work out everyday as this is a new healthy you and aint no one gonna mess with your routine, right! New day new you! Fab, but don’t go overboard. If you’ve gone from someone who’s only exercise in the last 3 years is running for your bus because you’re late… yet again, then why do you think your body is ready to start doing 5km runs 3 times a day 1000 days a week?
Gradually EASE INTO IT. It really is great that you’re excited to do this new workout regime, but make sure you ease into it. Sure, try going for a run and to the gym a couple of days on the first week, but on the other days, make sure you’re just gently active. Go for a nice gentle walk, or a gentle cycle, but don’t go pushing yourself too much too early.
Doing too much too quickly will increase your chance of injury, and also make you much less likely to stick with a routine. If you gradually build up the frequency of your exercise each week, then you will find it manageable, enjoyable and will have less of a risk of injury.
Similar to the above, you might think to get beach bod ready, you’re going to need to go so intense you throw up. I’ve seen this on programmes like “the biggest loser” and other weight loss programmes where they do some ridiculously intense workout with people who are not ready for ridiculously intense workouts. What you don’t see on these programmes are that there are a big team of doctors on standby, they have physio every single night and still people have to pull out of the programmes for “health reasons”!
Instead, start off with a low intensity. Only you will know what you find “intense”, but if you find yourself feeling faint, about to throw up or giving yourself some kind of heart palpitation, then you’ve gone too far! Roll that crap back in and tone down the intensity. You are still going to gain muscle/lose fat if you are new to exercise and doing a lower intensity.
Again, feel free to build up the intensity over weeks, but be careful. Your body is likely not a temple, and you likely haven’t treated it as well as you should have over the last couple of years – so it’s going to need some training and adjusting to get used to intense exercise.
Doing too much intense exercise when you are unfit/unhealthy can cause really serious problems, it could lead to a heart attack or stroke, so make sure you build it up slowly.
You’ve just started going to the gym, you want to test yourself, and I mean REALLY test yourself yeah? Woah hold your horses cowboy. What are you trying to prove? That person over there can definitely lift more than you, and is totally not going to be impressed by you injuring yourself. Take it slow. If you’ve never lifted more than a playstation controller off the floor, don’t go straight to trying to lift 100kg off the floor (you may well be able to do it, but DON’T!).
As you’re new to exercise, you won’t have experienced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) to their fullest (it’s definitely something to look forward to 😉)! Do at least two weeks of building up the weight and see how your body feels the next day and the day after each of the exercises, you may be shocked at just how much muscle soreness that weight has caused).
I would say, if you’ve never done an exercise before, you should pick a weight that you can easily do 12 of. This will mean you’re more likely to get the form right, and also cause less pain the next day or three.
If you do try lifting too heavy, you’re going to quickly hurt yourself, likely cause severe DOMS and probably not bother doing that exercise again. Trust me, once you’ve done a few weeks of getting to the weight you should be at, you’ll be loving the exercising!
You thought I would do a post without mentioning warming up? Well who were you trying to kid, of course I’m going to harp on about warming up. This is one of the MOST common mistakes you’re likely to make. You just want to get to exercising and looking like your fitness idol right? Well read my two articles on warming up first. They detail just why warming up is so important, and how to do it properly to try and avoid injury. The first is about stretches, the second about the rest of the warm up.
If you don’t warm up, you’re going to cause yourself harm and end up not sticking to your new routine. Goodbye summer bod, hello Christmas beer belly.
Now you’ve read all that, go and sensibly smash that exercise routine!!! Good luck!