We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn from them that matters.
When we begin practicing something new, like exercising, we make mistakes, learn from them, and make adjustments as we go. If you look back to when you first started working out, I’m sure you can recall several moments that make you cringe as you think about them. Maybe your squat form was horrible, but you put on heavy weight anyway. Maybe you did the same exercises over and over again and never quite progressed. Whatever it is, I’m sure that now you can look back and appreciate what you’ve learned from those mistakes.
That’s what this article is about. I’m here to save you some time and energy by talking about some of the most common workout mistakes I see when it comes to exercising. Hopefully reading this article will keep you from making the same mistakes so many others have.
COMMON WORKOUT MISTAKE #1 - FAILURE TO WARM UP
I’m sure most people would read the title of this section and think “what does this guy know, I warm up every time I workout!”
Maybe you do, but I’m willing to bet you can be getting more out of your workout by warming up properly.
You see, most people consider a warm-up something that gets the blood flowing. It may be a 10-minute jog on the treadmill. Maybe it’s a quick 5 minutes on the elliptical. Others may do some stretching before a workout. I believe it’s generous to call those “warm-ups”.
The best warm-up is the one that gets you most ready for the task at hand. I see too many workout mistakes especially when it comes to warming up before a lifting session.
When lifting, our central nervous system fires and tells our muscles to contract in order to move our body and the weight. The better that central nervous system can communicate to your muscles, the better your workout will be and the stronger your lifts will be. Think of the central nervous system as an amplifier, and your muscles as speakers. If you have great speakers, but a bad amplifier, the sound quality is going to be mediocre at best. If you have a great amplifier, those speakers will project their full potential. Same goes for your central nervous system and muscles. When that amplifier (your CNS) is ready to go, you’ll be able to have a much better lift.
Getting your amplifier (CNS) ready should be done doing your warm-up. One of the best ways to do this is to “prime” your body. I consider priming to be the superior warm-up. You can prime your muscles by doing movements that reinforce a good connection between your muscles and your central nervous system. If you are doing a deadlift, engaging your glutes is key, so a good primer or warm-up could be a glute bridge with a 5 second hold at the top. That will allow your glutes to fire and engage during your deadlifts. If you’re doing back exercises, doing some slow and controlled band rows or band pull-aparts will allow your shoulder blades to come together and allow your upper back to contract properly during all of your back movements.
So, when you’re priming for your workout, think about what muscles you’re going to be training, and work on engaging and firing those muscles beforehand so they can bring their full potential into your workout.
COMMON WORKOUT MISTAKE #2 - LACK OF INTENTION
This workout mistake drives me a little crazy. I’m not going to lie about that.
Intention is everything when it comes to your workouts. Reps, sets, rest, weight all means nothing if you’re not lifting with intention.
I see this far too often. Nearly every time I go to the gym, I see multiple people just going through the motions. I see people doing 12 reps just to do 12 reps. I see people doing a movement just to say they did it before they race out of the gym. I even see people watching Netflix as they do leg extensions, completely disconnected from their workout.
The results you get absolutely depend on the intention of your workout. I can assign the same workout program to two different people, and the difference in results will be drastic, mostly in favor of the individual who had purpose and intention.
So, think about your goal. Ask yourself, “why am I doing this workout?” Is your goal to get stronger, build endurance, become more mobile? Your goal will determine your intention. If you want to get stronger, you must push as much weight as possible for the amount of reps you have assigned. 3 reps doesn’t mean anything unless you are testing your limits for those 3 reps. If your goal is to build endurance, your focus should be a little less on the weight and more about how long you can go without needing a break. If your focus is to become more mobile, creating strength in greater ranges of motion and different planes of movement should be priority number one.
Workout with purpose, with intentionality. It will make all the difference in your results.
By avoiding these common workout mistakes and using your warmup as preparation for your intentional workout, you will see the difference in the progress you make from week to week.
ABOUT THE AUTHORAdam is a fitness professional, baseball fan, and cookie fanatic based in Fort Collins, Colorado. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. As an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, he is constantly moved to help people improve in all walks of life.