Just about everyone can benefit from adding it to their workout routine. But, before you head to the weight room, make sure you don’t make any of these four common beginner mistakes.
1. Doing Too Much, Too Soon
One of the most frequent mistakes beginners make when they start lifting is trying to do too much, too quickly. If you’ve never lifted weights before, your body will start to respond to workouts fairly quickly — there’s even a term for this: newbie gains.
You don’t need to overload your body with six two-hour workouts a week when you’re first getting started (or ever, frankly, unless you have very specific goals like competing in a bodybuilding show).
If you try to do such an intense workout right from the beginning, you’re most likely going to end up injuring yourself or burning yourself out. Then, you’ll just find yourself back at square one.
Don’t just copy the workouts you see someone do on Instagram or YouTube. If you’re brand new to lifting, work with a personal trainer or a more experienced lifter to figure out a program that will help you safely ease your way into the gym.
2. Skipping the Warm-up
A proper warm-up is essential for preparing your muscles for the work they’re about to do. If you just go from your car straight into the weight room, you’ll increase your risk of injury and will have a less-than-ideal workout.
Take time at the beginning of your workout to first to some light cardio and get your heart rate up. Then, do some dynamic stretches and mobility exercises so you’ll be able to move your limbs through a full range of motion when it comes time to lift.
Some good exercises to do before lifting include:
Leg swings to the front, back, and sides
Supine leg crossovers
Arm circles and cross-body swings
Bodyweight squats and lunges
3. Relying Too Much On Machines
If you’re new to the gym, it’s easy to gravitate toward machines. The diagrams on the side telling you how to use them are mighty helpful to beginners. But, machines aren’t going to be as effective as training with dumbbells and barbells.
When you work with free weights, you’re forced to engage more muscles to stabilize yourself throughout the movement.
Training with free weights will also improve your overall function. This is because many free weight exercises, especially deadlifts and squats, emulate movements we do regularly in our daily routine (squatting down and picking things up off the ground). Very few people need to sit and push a bunch of weight with their legs during their regular activities.
Some people avoid using dumbbells or barbells because their wrists and hands get tired too quickly.
The solution to this problem is twofold: First, the more you use dumbbells and barbells, the stronger your hands and wrists will get. Second, don’t forget wrist strengthening exercises that will help expedite this process.
4. Only Doing Isolation Exercises
If a new gym-goer does find their way into the free weight section, they may be confused about what to do first and just start doing popular exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions.
These exercises are fine, but they only isolate one muscle group. This means they aren’t as effective as compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows, and overhead presses.
Compound movements recruit multiple muscle groups at once, so you get more bang for your buck when you do them regularly. If you focus on full-body exercises like these, you’ll see progress faster than you would by just doing isolation movements.
You can also shorten your workouts since you’ll be hitting several muscles in one exercise — who doesn’t want to decrease their gym time without sacrificing progress?
Lifting weights can help almost anyone reach their fitness goals, as long as you’re training properly. Avoid these four mistakes when you hit the gym and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a stronger and healthier version of yourself.