1) Not setting realistic goals.Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was a six-pack. Be patient. Unrealistic and vague goals are two of the biggest reasons people give up on exercise. They don't see results right away, yet if you've been training for a long time, it'll probably take you even longer than someone new to exercise. Don't give up! You need to set S.M.A.R.T. goals that are relevant to your skill and fitness levels.
2) Having a goal, but not a plan.It doesn't matter whether you want to put on muscle, drop body fat, or do 10 pull-ups. If you aren't creating a plan to work backwards from that end goal, then you won't get there, plain and simple. Too many people go into the gym using a magazine cookie-cutter workout or just following their training partner, and don't realize that unless your plan is specific to you and unless you're writing down what you're doing (in a workout journal), it'll be hard to measure your progress. One of the biggest workout mistakes you can make is to go in without a plan, because you'll come out without your goal.
3) Focusing on the small picture at the expense of the big one.Big, sexy muscles are amazing. In the personal training industry, we refer to two different muscle groups: show muscles and go muscles. "Show" muscles are abs, chest muscles, arms, etc. because you can see them and show them off. "Go" muscles are hamstrings, upper back, and glute muscles: the muscles that help stability, mobility, balance, and everyday functionality. Isolating one muscle at a time (e.g., doing preacher curls) is good, but for performance- or health-related goals, hitting muscle-joint movements (such as a pull-up) is better. A front squat, though harder than a leg extension, will improve your cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems more and increase muscle mass faster! Educate yourself on how to work each muscle group, and you'll avoid the workout mistakes that come from focusing on the small picture instead of the big one.
4) Not putting your phone on airplane mode.Your main focus is to remain focused. When you're at the gym, it's work time. Get off the clock, off social media, off texting, and just put the effort in. Going on Instagram or Facebook mid-workout can affect the quality of your workout in a negative way because the distraction can slow you down and take away the mind-muscle connection you need to have at the gym. Don't make social media workout mistake and save the selfies for after.
5) Thinking your nutrition is secondary.This isn't technically the same as our other workout mistakes, but then again, it is. I see countless people go into the gym on a Monday morning or Friday night thinking they can (a) out-train their crappy weekend diet or (b) burn calories in advance of their crappy weekend diet. You cannot out-train a bad diet. Even though CrossFitters and high-level athletes need to eat a ton to sustain their energy output, they still fuel up with clean sources because it will enhance their performance. It's easier to hit a personal record if there are whole, natural plant and animal foods in your body versus processed chemicals. It doesn't only make you look better to eat clean-it helps you perform better in the gym.
This meditation on the most serious workout mistakes you can make has been brought to us by Jaime Filer, Online Editor-In-Chief of Muscle Insider, Canada's #1 Muscle Magazine. Jaime has lent her vibrant, energetic, and most importantly real voice to a wide range of topics, everything from how to tone your body in-between competitions to her own fitness transformation to the importance of discipline. Jaime rocks the Expedition 300 backpack - find your perfect gym backpack, gym tote, or meal management system today.