Whether you are a seasoned iron junkie or you have just started lifting weights, it is likely that you may still be making a few mistakes here and there that are keeping you from achieving your goal. Remember, it is ok to make mistakes, everyone does, but it is those who learn from them that make the biggest success in life. This article addresses some of the common mistakes that gym-goers make.

1. Not Have Clear Goals

Yes, you may want to lose weight or gain muscle mass, but do you have a concrete plan with step-by-step measures to help you get there?

Having a dedicated training and nutrition plan is step number 1. From there, I like to jot down some short, medium and long term goals that I would like to achieve. For example, I have always battled to grow my calves so my short term plan / goal is to make every workout count and go harder than the session before.

My medium term plan is to change up the style of training to add new stimuli to my calf muscles and the long term goal is to add at least 1 centimetre per year to my calves. Doesn’t sound like much but if you think over 8 years, I will be adding 8 centimetres to my calf circumference, now it makes a difference. This is a super-long term plan fitness-wise but your dream physique doesn’t happen over-night, so be prepared for the long haul.

Keep your log book in your gym bag and keep track of the weights you push each week. Every 4-6 weeks, do a complete full body measurement including weight and body fat percentage if you can. This will help you assess which muscles are growing, which muscles need a bit of extra attention and if necessary, where to make adjustments in diet. This is your means to self-accountability.

2. Hopping From Program To Program

Like I mentioned in the previous point, your dream physique doesn’t come over-night. It takes time and most of all persistence. Hopping from program to program will ultimately lead to failure because your body isn’t afforded the opportunity to adapt; meaning you won’t get bigger, stronger or leaner.

Planning a year-long program allows you consider your goals and when you would like to achieve them by. When planning training programs, make sure to stick to them for 6-8 weeks before changing it up, any shorter than that and you won’t know if a program was effective or not.

I like to do this to plan for the seasons. Yeah I want to pick up muscle mass but there is no ways I am going to be doing a bulking cycle in beach season. It allows you to plan for holidays, shows and events where you know you need to look shredded to bits.

3. Focusing On Isolation

While focussing on isolation lifts is essential to create muscle pump, if you are looking to grow, then compound lifts are the way to go. If you think leg extensions is going to add copious amounts of muscle mass to your quads, you are sadly mistaken. Rather bypass the leg extension and head straight to the squat rack. Once you have completed the big lifts, that is when it is time to hit a few isolation exercises to really finish off the muscle.

4. Not Building A Solid Foundation First

Most people want to be cut and jacked (lean and muscular) right? However, they tend to focus on this first without building a solid foundation. By this I mean they don’t concentrate on increasing strength. Whether you are training to improve your physique or your performance, strength is the pillar that all other qualities are built on.

Trying to bypass this process will actually delay your progress to building muscle and getting ripped. If you build your strength first, then everything will come easier.

5. Over or Under-eating

A number of gym-goers believe that because they are training hard, it gives them free reign to go all out on the food they eat; and worse than that, they tend to opt for unhealthy junk food. Guys, you can’t out-train bad nutrition, no matter hard you try.

Eating junk food is an easy way to rack up the calories which I can tell you now, is going to lead to fat gain. If you are eating clean, it becomes difficult to over-eat. I can tell you from personal experience, when I go on a bulking cycle and have to eat ridiculous amounts to add on muscle mass; I really battle to get it the right amount of clean calories.

On the opposite end of the scale, other gym-goers don’t eat enough to fuel gains. Not eating enough will slow recovery and potential gains. Now you are probably thinking, but what if I am trying to lose weight? Well, having a calorie deficit is how you will lose weight; however, drastic reductions in calorie intake will slow your metabolism and your body will essentially hold onto body fat just to survive.

It is all about finding a happy medium where you are able to maintain lean muscle mass and still lose weight. Small changes in diet can make massive differences, but remember this takes time so be patient.

6. Not getting advice

There is no shame is asking for help. Everyone needs help in life. By not asking for advice from a personal trainer or seasoned lifter, you are only slowing down your own progress. Knowing how to train and eat to achieve your goals is essential.

If for example you are training for strength but you are performing exercise with a high rep range (12-15), you are only doing yourself a disservice. Knowing the right training techniques, rep ranges & rest periods etc for training and the right calorie intake, macronutrient breakdown & nutrient timing etc for nutrition will put you in the best possible position for achieving your goal. If you don’t ask, how will you ever learn?

7. Avoiding the Warm-up

No one enjoys warming up before getting into their proper workout but what you may not realise is that warming-up prepares the musculoskeletal system to cope with the stress of training and excites the nervous system to enhance performance. This will help you prevent injury and also jack up your nervous system getting you ready to push to your full potential.

Roughly 10 minutes is all you need to get your body rearing and ready to go. Good warm-ups include drills to improve movement in your upper back, shoulders and hips. Get your heart rate elevated and increase body heat by performing a few jumps and throws. These will also stimulate your nervous system.

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