Ahhh…newbies. There’s nothing wrong with being a beginner – we all have to start someplace – but being a beginner means that you have to make a lot of mistakes in order to find your groove. And that takes a lot of time. During that time, however, a newbie is very vulnerable. Read: It’s just as easy to learn what it is to be "correct" as it is to learn what is "incorrect", and that’s the problem!
Here is a list of common mistakes the beginner’s make and remedies that follow:
1. Training too long – It’s easy to be enthusiastic in the gym. We’ve all been there. Once you start to see even the tiniest result, you want to be in there for hours on end trying to force more. But this is a big mistake. Training too long is not only overtraining, it’s also draining mentally. Putting yourself in overload mode isn’t the way to longevity. Besides, training too long exhausts you for the next workout.
REMEDY: Limit yourself to 30 – 45 minutes no matter what. You’ll find that you can get everything in you need and you’ll walk out having accomplished just enough
2. Training too often – Training too often is about like training too long. The difference is, training too often means that you never recover. So, in effect, it’s almost better to train too long in one session, than to train too often throughout the course of a week. Some newbies think that training 5-6 days a week is okay. We don’t! Training that often as a beginner only sets you up for burnout and diminishing results. Once the honeymoon period of quick gains is over, you’ll be disappointed with the muscle you end up losing by training too often.
REMEDY: Limit yourself to 4 workouts – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday is a great beginner’s routine, because it means that you train 2 days on/ 1 day off, then 2 days on/ 2 days off. It’s adequate rest and you’ll make better gains.
3. Not training intensely enough – Intensity is an elusive thing to most newbies because it’s hard to understand what intense means. Intensity simply means that you are focused, using adequately heavy weights, are really putting your all into each repetition, and that you are engaged mentally with a "mind/ muscle" connection. Going into the gym and chatting while you lift, or having noodle arms as you hoist a weight up and down will net nothing! REMEDY: Think like a pro bodybuilder might think when he lifts. (Watch one and see what we mean) You’ll make incredibly better gains.
4. Not getting enough sleep – Sleep is crucial to recovery and to repairing what you tore down in the gym that day. Sleep cures all and is the body’s way of making all things right. Plus, when you sleep, you release growth hormone and other muscle building hormones that aid your body in rebuilding what you tore down, only to make it that much better. Fail to get sleep and you fail to grow. It’s that simple!
REMEDY: Turn off the TV, put down the book and, dare we say, roll away from that beautiful babe you sleep next to, and get 8 hours a night at a minimum!
5. Neglecting particular body parts – Training favorites is a common mistake. We know how fun it is to train a genetically crazy body part that came to you naturally. It’s fun to see how freaky you can get it. But doing that only makes the imbalances in your physique even more glaring. It means that you are ignoring your weaknesses and becoming stronger in areas that don’t need your help. REMEDY: Train your weak body parts first in your workouts. Get them out of the way and give them your full energy and intensity. That way, when you get to those freaky biceps you love so much, you’ll have just enough left to maintain them while you bring those lagging parts up from the rear.
6. Using weights that are too heavy – Training heavy before your time is a big mistake. Don’t confuse intensity with the practice of using heavy weights that are too heavy for you in your current state of development. Use only a heavy enough weight to ensure that 8 reps is arduous. Using more than that is ridiculous and pointless because you’ll only lose the ability to apply proper form. REMEDY: Write your weights down – not only after you use them, but make a plan before so that you know what you have used and what you are going to use. This way, you keep that "macho" attitude at bay and do what’s right for your physique.
7. Using improper form – Study proper form! We can’t stress this enough. As we said, it’s just as easy to learn what is wrong as it is to learn what is right. Use this time to learn everything correctly. To ensure that you do, have someone experienced check out your form from time to time. Be open to hearing what you need to hear in order to succeed, not be right! REMEDY: Study magazines, books, and live action in the gym. Check with people in the know occasionally to ensure that you are doing things correctly.
8. Not eating enough food – Undereating is just as bad as overeating – probably worse. That’s because your body needs to be fed, and fed well, following workouts and in between. Protein is key, but so is carbohydrate and moderate fat. Eating well, and semi-clean, is key to your success. If your body doesn’t get enough calories, it means that it has no energy to work with in order to build up the body or make repairs. REMEDY: Schedule meals throughout the day at certain times and stick to it. Cook certain foods ahead of time and keep them handy so that you always have something in your hand – particularly if eating is a difficult endeavor for you.
9. Doing the same workouts – Doing the same thing over and over and over again, week in and week out, is one of the biggest mistakes a newbie can make. Sure, the "why fix it if it isn’t broke" credo is important, but once you’ve been doing something successfully for awhile, the body will become accustomed to it and not be forced to produce as many results. That’s why it’s crucial to change up fairly often, even if something is still working moderately well. REMEDY: Schedule 4-6 week intervals with a given routine and then change it to something different, like clockwork.
10. Not drinking enough water – Water is the hinge pin to maintaining a healthy, lean body. Water rids the body of impurities, such as lactic acid built up during exercise, and flushes it out so that repair and recovery can occur. Fail to take this important step and, believe it or not, your results will be better than average. REMEDY: If you just can’t force yourself to drink water as you should, then add a little Crystal Light or other non-sugar flavoring to your water and sip a gallon jug all throughout the day.