Starting out is daunting, and we have all been there. You’re not sure what to do, so you just copy what others seem to be busting out. Not only can this be dangerous, but can also be a giant waste of time. These are the three most common mistakes, and how you can rectify them to make the most out of your valuable time and energy.

1. Don’t set unrealistic goals

Often the very first problem is setting goals that are just never going to happen, such as losing 20kgs of weight in a month, or building the same amount of muscle in a such a time. These are physically impossible goals, and can lead to people being discouraged from training because they don’t achieve these. Rather start out from the absolute bottom and build a solid foundation on which to build your fitness epic. Begin with a two-days-a-week training schedule, each about an hour so that you can see how easy it is to incorporate some exercise into your daily life.

This will make you feel like you are taking it too easy on yourself after a couple of weeks, so then you bump it up to an extra day or two per week. If you are strapped for time, keep a 20 or 30-minute workout in your gym bag so that you can still get something in rather than just skipping the gym altogether, and make sure that you are always equipped for the worst-case scenario. If you find that there are no machines or equipment available, have a spare dumbbell and bodyweight session planned, so that you can still squeeze some muscle growth out of the day. Focus on building the habit of going to gym regularly, no matter what you are doing, because that is what will deliver the results in the long-term.

2. Failing to plan

There is a saying that goes like this; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Planning is the cornerstone of any good gym routine, and lifestyle for that matter, and without that planning, you may find yourself bouncing about from machine without doing anything significant. A plan also helps you focus a lot more because you know where you will need to go next and what to do, rather than sitting and wondering what to do next instead of focusing on the task at hand. This also increases the intensity of your workout because it will lead to fewer interruption between your sets.

Planning also refers to the exercises you plan on doing. Knowing which to do first can make a huge difference so spend some time researching the form you need to use, as well as exactly what happens during the exercise will allow you to fully utilise that movement without the risk of injury. For example; doing a heavy compound movement like a Barbell Chest Press is more exertive than other movements so schedule it first. Always have a plan (and a back-up plan) for your training days, to maximise your time and effort in the gym.

3. Failing to incorporate strength training

While cardio is much easier to jump straight into because we can also save ourselves from looking awkward on the weights like a new born calf trying to walk. This would only be a disservice to you and your efforts because, while you might lose a few calories, you won’t be any closer to building that lean and pristine muscle you so greatly desire. Therefore, while it may look a little odd at first, it will benefit you in the long-haul to get on that iron from the get go, and this is definitely a long-haul endeavour. Weight-lifting has also been proven in numerous studies to burn more calories than cardio, due to the higher physical demand that is required from your body.

Furthermore, as you pack on more lean mass, the higher your metabolism will burn which will not only burn more calories during your workout, but will also burn more calories throughout the day. If you are hesitant to get under a Barbell, there are various avenues you can explore to elicit the same effects. You can either ask someone to spot you, use a Smith Machine to assist you in controlling the weight and offer a way to put the weight down without hurting yourself, or use dumbbells (the most common and beneficial way) to help build your stabilisers, as well as help build core strength, another essential component to bettering your weight training.

Implement these 3 simple ideas into your routine and see how quickly your gains will come!

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