6 Common Gym Mistakes You’re Probably Making

6 Common Gym Mistakes You're Probably Making

Written by Mitchell Robinson

Many people start a fitness regime with great enthusiasm but quickly slip back into their old ways. But you’ve kept going. You get to the gym regularly and you push yourself hard.

So why aren’t you getting results? Why aren’t you achieving your gym goals?

Maybe you’re making one of these 6 common exercise mistakes.

1. You're not warming up properly

You're pushed for time but you've still made it to the gym. You're keen to get your workout done but you don't have a whole lot of time so you skip the warm up. It doesn't matter, does it?

Well, yes, it does.

You wouldn't go to the gym in your office clothes so don't start a workout with your body in its office state. Get it ready.

Your warm-up is important for many reasons. These slower-paced, lower-intensity exercises prepare your body for a workout, warming up your cardiovascular system and increasing blood flow to your muscles. A few, repetitive exercises gets the blood, heat and oxygen flowing to your muscles and makes them more responsive to exercise. If you don’t warm up, your performance goes down and your injury risk goes up.

That’s particularly important if you’re getting a bit older. Your muscles need warming up so they’re flexible before your workout

Not sure how to warm up? Try these dynamic warm ups.

2. You're using the wrong technique 

Many people buy a gym membership and get started without any advice on proper training technique. Bad posture at your desk, lugging a heavy bag around on one shoulder or compensating for a weakness after a previous injury can all lead to muscle imbalances that put you at risk of an injury when paired with poor technique.

If you want to reap the rewards of exercise, then you need to use the right technique. If you’re new to the gym or if it’s been a while since you had any instruction, it’s worth investing in a few sessions with a personal trainer to learn proper technique for your gym exercises.

3. You're not doing enough sets

As you probably already know, your muscle-building activities are packaged by reps and sets. If you’re growing your biceps, you might do 10 bicep curls in a row, known as repetitions. When you get to 10, you’ve done a full set. Then you’ll take a quick breather and repeat the set. But how many sets should you do? 

More sets do help you build more muscle. One review found that 2-3 sets is 40% better than just one. Doing 4-6 sets gives you another 20% edge.

This is another area where your personal trainer can give you individualised advice that reflects your current fitness level and goals.

4. You're going too heavy, too fast

No-one wants to feel like a weakling so it’s tempting to choose a fairly heavy weight for your workout.

But swinging a heavy weight around doesn’t qualify as resistance training! Nor is it safe.

When the weight is too heavy, the muscle you’re targeting might not be able to manage it without recruiting help from other muscle groups. That means you’re not actually working the muscle you think you’re working.

A better approach is to lift lighter weights that you can manage using the right muscles. Once you can control an exercise at a set weight and complete your sets without fatiguing, you can start increasing the weight.  

5. You aren't consistent

Consistently exercising at the right level with the right technique should deliver results. Most of us should be aiming for at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per week plus two strength training sessions.

Life gets hectic though. Some weeks are busier than expected and you just can’t get to the gym.

Occasional exercise is still far better for you than being inactive. But, to start seeing progress with your fitness and strength, you need to be as consistent as you can with your workouts.

6. You're not resting your muscle groups

Your muscles do need a breather. It takes at least 48 hours after a strength workout for them to recover and rebuild.

If you’re going to the gym every day, then the trick is to alternate your muscle groups to give them a 48-hour breather. If you did an upper body workout yesterday, focus on your lower body today.

Hopefully, addressing those 6 issues will help you to get more from your gym sessions and deliver the results you’re after.

And there are deeper benefits too. A regular pattern of strength training 2-3 times per week helps you build muscle strength and mass, preserves bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes.

How can Sycamore Health help?

Physiotherapists have a deep understanding of your body’s natural healing response to injury. We work with that to help you make a good recovery and strengthen the injured tissues to reduce the risk of reinjury. Make an appointment to start getting better today.


All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.

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