Beginner mistakes and how to avoid them

We were all once beginners. Some of us still are. Or sometimes you feel like one, which is then probably why you are reading this in the first place, you insecure little crybaby. It can often be because of simple mistakes you keep making over and over again. Are you committing any of the following sins?

strong-babyPeople come to me for advice on how to get fit, lose a few pounds, gain strength, … They all have backgrounds of trying to get fit on their own, but something went wrong so they did not get the results they wanted. I always ask what they did and why they failed, and it usually boils down to the same reasons. Here are the most common mistakes for beginners.

  • Unrealistic expectations

So you set your new year’s resolution and you are going to kick ass this year. This year is the year you are going to shine. You’re going to lose those 20 pounds of blubber, get that six-pack you’ve always dreaded, and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime so you can impress the ladies.Afbeeldingsresultaat voor looking like arnold in 6 weeks

Chances are, this goal is a bit high for such a short time span. Set more realistic goals instead: try and eat clean food, hit the gym 3-4 times a week, try to lose 10 lbs in the coming 6 months. Setting unrealistic goals is only going to set you up for disappointment, leading you to quit.

  • Not listening to your body

You start squatting twice a week, and your knee starts hurting -that’s all right, just some adaptations I guess. You feel tired and sore all the time – no worries, all part of the plan. Your performance starts dropping and you lift less weight than when you started – well that must be a coincidence?

These are all signs of your body telling you that you are pushing the envelope a bit too much. It’s a fine line between overtraining and undertraining, but it is always better to start off a little light and carry on from there.

  • Not increasing intensity

So you’ve survived your first 3 weeks of constant soreness, confusion on what this weird exercise on your paper was again and the feeling of being hungry all the time. Your body is adapting and you are not feeling sore anymore. The workouts seem to be easier than before. This is great, I can do this!

This is a mistake a lot of people make. After initial improvements, they forget that one of the key principles of training is progressive overload. Your body adapts to the stress it is under. If you don’t increase the intensity/duration/frequency of your workouts, your progress will eventually stall.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor exercise you don't like

  • Doing something you don’t like

We all know someone who started the “start to run” program, only to quit after 4 weeks because well, they hate it. They just tried because they got it from a friend or found it on the internet, and they want to get fit.

Doing something you don’t like is setting yourself up for failure. Eventually you will break and stop putting effort into your goal of getting fit. When your spirits are low, the balance between your health goals and your efforts put into this miserable training thing which you hate, will eventually tip to the wrong side.

  • Not doing something you don’t like

Looks like I’m confusing you eh? This seems a bit controversial, but only doing something you enjoy can be bad as well. Only doing sets of 10 on sit-ups (because after that, it starts burning) will not get you very far. Taking a break from running after 2 minutes because you start breaking a sweat, will not help your cause either. Sometimes you just have to push through.

  • Eating like a pig

So you push yourself hard and manage to squeeze in 3 half hours of running a week. But after you come home, you take a shower, throw yourself on the couch and grab a bag of potato chips because well, you’ve earned it.

No you haven’t. Well maybe you have. But that’s not the point. The point is that if you are going to do so, every step forward will be followed by 1 step back, which will get you nowhere. Have some discipline if you want to make progress.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor eating like a pig

  • Not recovering/sleeping enough

This one is huge. Too many people think they can go from 0 to 5 times of exercise a week just like that. They start living in the gym, having constant soreness, and after a little bit of progress, they stall very fast and sometimes even end up losing strength or conditioning.

Your body actually builds itself while it is recovering. It makes it so you become stronger than you were before (which is also why you need to increase intensity/load over time). If you don’t allow your body to recover, you are basically putting in all the work but undermining your potential for growth. It’s doing way too much for results you could also get by going to the gym way less often than you are now.

  • Improper technique and ego-lifting

So you and your buddy go to the gym. He packs on the big plates on the bench press and starts repping it out. Sure, you can do that too right? Oh man that’s heavier than expected. Got to push through, I can’t look like a wimp… Screw technique, I want to be able to say I can lift as much as he can!

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ego lifting

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. When you enter a gym, leave your ego at the door. Focus on weights/intensity you can handle, not how much you’d like to be able to handle. Bad technique because of you trying to please our ego, will lead to bad things such as injuries and even worse: no gains in the future.

  • Not having a plan

Not having a plan is like deciding to drive to a place you’ve never been before, starting your car and driving off, not knowing where on earth you should go. Yes you’re doing something, but no you’re not going to get there anytime soon. You need some kind of idea/program for your specific goals. Otherwise you’re just going nowhere in the long run.


So now you have read all the secrets, you too can become as strong as this baby!

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor strong baby