Imagine a beginner walk in to a gym and watch people working out using different exercising equipment & machines. He/she is perplexed, and think what to do? He or she is likely to choose the most familiar option, usually the treadmill and head straight to the treadmill bay. Now, this is not the right way if you want to achieve your fitness goals.

Exercisers (especially the beginners) often commit mistakes that not only keep them from getting the full benefits of the workouts, but also put them at risk of injury. Here, I have compiled the most common workout mistakes, and how you can avoid them so as to achieve your fitness goals successfully.

This article is written with an objective to educate you with the necessary knowledge before you begin an exercise routine so that you avoid the most common mistakes that people usually make.

The Most Common Workout/Exercise Mistakes That Beginners Usually Make

Before you walk through the doors of a gym you must know about these common exercise/training mistakes, which you must avoid!

# 1

Expecting Miracles

A majority of the people expect immediate results, hoping only a month of training would make them look slim & trim for the upcoming beach vacation! Most beginners have wrong notions about how long it would take to attain their fitness goals. And many of them spend not enough time and give up when they don’t see immediate results. Others spend excessive time on training and end up injured.

Does it sound like you? Continue reading

# 2

Not Doing Warm-up

Remember to do a proper warm-up, before you begin your exercise session – be it free weights workout or some cardio; you should never a skip a proper warm-up.

A proper warm-up helps to:

(i) increase your body core temperature

(ii) slowly elevate heart rate

(iii) increase intake of oxygen (to lessen muscle fatigue)

(iv) increase blood flow through blood vessels

(v) lubricate joints

You can choose a warm-up option depending upon its availability & your preference – it can be a visit to a sauna, ten minutes on a rowing machine, or a few light-intensity weight sets of each exercise in the workout routine that you are about to begin.

Read here for Best Warmup Exercises

# 3

Forgetting Flexibility (Stretching)

A full range of motion for the functional movements will help maximize benefits from your exercise routine and staying super active. Stretching is also a great post-workout recovery drill. A light stretching routine at the end of your workout session helps prevent injury and pain. A proper post-workout stretching procedure involves:

(i) stretching every muscle that you worked.

(ii) stretching to the point of mild discomfort, not pain.

(iii) holding the stretch for about thirty seconds.

(iv) doing each stretch two-three times.

Read here for Stretching Guidelines

Best Approach For A Beginner To Workout

# 1

Realistic Goals & Plan

You should have realistic fitness action plan & goals. Action plan & goals are the foundation on which your fitness routine will be built upon. A good approach is to have smart short- and long-term fitness goals such as:

(i) I will increase my bench press load by 10% by this month end.

(ii) I will include 2 cups of vegetables into diet daily.

(iii) I will always do 10 minutes warm up prior to each workout session.        

Once you’ve set your realistic goals, write down and keep track of them.

# 2

Free Weights Have Very Important Role

Don’t ignore free weights training because weight lifting / strength or resistance workouts using free weights is important part of any overall fitness program. The benefits of weight lifting are not limited only to young, but in fact useful to seniors & even people with chronic health issues also. Unfortunately, most beginners are not aware of free weights usefulness and tend to head straight to the cardio equipment area. Cardio is undoubtedly good, but strength training is of equal importance. If done properly & safely, it helps to:

(i) speed up fat loss

(ii) boost bone health

(iii) improve quality of life

(iv) better joint stability

(v) ease pain

(vi) lower risk of injury

Here’s the proper way to incorporate strength training into your fitness-training regime.

Follow Progressive Overload Principle

Use lower weights in the first few weeks of your exercise routine. Your muscles will adapt to exercise and get stronger. Therefore, when that fifteen-pound dumbbell begins feeling light, it’s time to increase the weight.

Here are 5 ways to increase your workout load volume in order to achieve more muscle strength & growth:

(i) Gradually increasing the amount of weight you are using.

(ii) Gradually bump up the number of reps per set.

(iii) Add a set to each workout.

(iv) Change the tempo. Increase the time duration of the eccentric part of the reps and make the concentric part faster.

(v) Reduce the amount of rest time between sets. For example here is sample-training program to train for bigger muscles.

Phase 1(Light Resistance)Phase 2(Moderate Resistance)Phase 3(Heavy Resistance)Phase 4(Very Heavy Resistance)
15 reps  8 – 12 reps  5 – 6 reps  2 – 4 reps  
3 – 5 sets  3 – 5 sets  3 – 5 sets  3 – 5 sets  
60 – 90 seconds rest  60 – 90 seconds rest  60 – 90 seconds rest  60 – 90 seconds rest  


Track each of the above variables & record in the training journal. This will help you in modifying the variables so as to prevent over-use injuries and also plan post-workout recovery.  

What About Cardio?

Many people are unaware that cardio is good for your heart, and not for muscle growth, muscle strength or fat loss. Now that you know this, let’s see how to benefit from cardio!

You can do cardio exercises for keeping your heart, lungs, & blood vessels in healthy state. But, you need to do cardio at the right intensity (start from low intensity & bump up intensity as you heart & lungs get stronger).

Follow these steps:

First determine your Target Heart Rate using the following procedure.

(i) When you wake up in morning, determine your resting heart rate (RHR). To do this count your pulse for 60 seconds.

(ii) Using the following formula, calculate your maximum heart rate (HRmax)*.

* HRmax = 220 – (your age).

(iii) Then apply the following equation to calculate your THR associated with the intended exercise intensity.

* Target Heart Rate (THR) = [(HRmax – RHR) x %Intensity] + RHR

For example, a 30-year-old (male or female) has a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute (bpm).

THR = [(HRmax – RHR) x 0.5] + RHR… at 50% intensity.

HRmax = 220 – 30 = 190

THR = [(190-60) x 0.5] + 60 = 125

In this sample example, the individual should begin cardio training at a target heart rate of 125 bpm (starting with a low intensity of 50%). As you continue, your heart & lungs will get stronger and your training will feel easier. Then accordingly you can gradually increase the intensity.  

And many people mistake by thinking that they have to log a lot of miles. Besides jogging or running there are many other forms of cardio. Many fun activities such as rope jumping, sit-ups, power skip (raising the knees high), running in place with high knees and plank jacks – all have cardiovascular benefits.

A good technique is to keep a track of your THR (target heart rate) and the duration of your cardio sessions. This will help you know when you can pump things up!

Read here for Cardio Fitness

Don’t Neglect Diet!

Lastly, but not the least – diet counts too! People usually pay more attention to training, and neglect nutrition. They take workout as an excuse to eat whatever they like. You need to modify your diet according to your fitness goal. 

If the fitness goal is fat loss, then the diet too needs to support, not disrupt that goal. For example, you can modify your diet in the following manner to support the fat loss goal.

(i) Avoid excessively processed & sugary – sweetened products

(ii) Eat more protein

(iii) Eat more vegetables

Final Tip

Take workout more as a fun. Learn how to keep fit and healthy to enjoy life. Make friends with like-minded people to exercise with. Look around your neighborhood such as local parks & recreation centers to find out what’s available.

It’s a win-win!

If you have any question, please do ask under the comments section below. I will be more than happy to clarify your doubts!

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