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How to succeed in the gym: mistakes to avoid

If you are one of those who signed up to the gym for the first time, it is normal to make mistakes and to have doubts: how to use the machines, what kind of exercises to do, how to do them correctly, etc.

In the gym you have instructors and/or personal trainers who can help you at this early stage to make you successful and maintain your motivation.

Even with some experience, you can feel some insecurity or make mistakes.

If you are starting your journey in the gym or if you simply want to know how to succeed, improve your performance, avoid injury, maintain motivation, and make your goals not just dreams, stay tuned.

Here you will find out what are the main mistakes in the gym that may be bothering you and how to avoid them.

Major mistakes made in the gym that you should avoid

Don’t rest properly (overtraining)


You train more and more, but you don’t see evolution in your body and your muscles. What’s going on, huh?

One of the things that can prevent you from evolving is excess training. Training too much can do you more harm than good.

This phenomenon-training continuously without letting the body rest-is called, too, overtraining.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

“When intensity, duration, frequency of training, or any combination of these factors exceeds an individual’s capacity for adaptation, overreaching and overtraining may occur.”

Overtraining has side effects. In many cases it can originate: increased fatigue, loss of enthusiasm or motivation, irritability, insomnia… among others.

Imagine that you’re a car and you walk miles and miles without stopping. Gasoline, sooner or later, is over! Just like when you exercise, in addition to the loss of energy, your body will be in constant effort and, if you do not stop, this can be counterproductive – something that can be visible in the evolution of your muscles.

During the exercise, you destroy muscle fibers and it is during the recovery period that you rebuild them, so resting is essential not only to recharge “batteries” but also to build muscle.

Attention! Rest is essential for all athletes, not only those who do, essentially, training with weights, but also for endurance athletes, for example.

The rest time may vary according to the duration and intensity of the training program and should be adapted to each athlete (NSCA), but my suggestion is:

If you train certain muscle groups in one day, then the next day you should train different muscle groups and try to have, at least one, REST DAY during the week, so the risk of getting into overtraining is smaller.

Try it and you’ll see results!!

Not having a balanced diet 

balanced diet

One of the most important factors for your physical development, to achieve your goals and improve your performance is food.

There are different opinions about food, but what matters is knowing what is the best balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) so that you can achieve your goals.

For example, in some weight loss diets are suggested to cut into carbohydrates. Although they can be reduced, you should not cut completely because they are fundamental to:

  • Give energy to the body – something that will be fundamental to exercise practice
  • Maintain body temperature
  • Support digestion and nutrient assimilation

As for the protein, it is essential since it is the main constituent of the muscles. As during training your muscle fibers are broken, protein intake (adapted to each body type) will help you repair and recover muscle tissue and decrease muscle fatigue.

The fat is often pointed out as the villain-especially when you want to lose weight, because it seems strange that to reduce body fat, it is said that one should ingest fat in it.

However, it is decisive regardless of the goal of each person. It is essential for the proper functioning of our body,  helps in the absorption of nutrients and supports the production of energy and hormone production (something essential for muscular development).

But beware! Not all fat can be ingested freely.

Check here what’s the difference between good fats and bad fats and make the best choices.

In short, you should bear in mind that fat, carbohydrates and protein should be part of your daily eating routine.

At Zumub you can see how to achieve different goals where you have some suggestions for eating, supplementation and exercises.

Not having a well-defined training plan

Follow a training plan

One of the factors that may be preventing you from progressing has to do with the training plan.

Do too much cardio when the goal is to gain muscle mass, for example, do not do cardio at all, do not follow the training plan, always follow the same training plan, follow the training plan of another person, are some factors that may be preventing you from progressing and achieving your goals.

  • Cardio: It is, among other things, fundamental to improve endurance and for fat loss, but, for example, when the goal is to gain muscle mass, you should not even eliminate the cardio from your workout (because it will help burn the excess fat you can gain during this phase) nor do it in excess. When you do cardio, while you lose fat, you also lose muscle.

The same applies, for example, to lifting weights when the goal is to lose weight. It’s wrong to think that only cardio helps burn calories. Lifting weights can help as much as cardio.

  • Always follow the same training plan, it will lead to your body getting used to. If, at an early stage, your body reacts quickly and effectively, by doing the same thing without changing the stimuli, your body creates habituation and there is no progression – you reach the so-called plateau” (a period during which there are no large changes).

The ideal will be to change the workout often-from 2 to 2 months or from 3 to 3. Dietary adjustments can also help you avoid it!

  • Do not follow the training plan or follow someone else’s plan. The training plan will be designed taking into account your goal, your body, your experience and your lifestyle. So, it will be critical for you to get results.

And attention! It is individual and differs from person to person, you do not want to follow the plan of another person, for example of some of your idols, because it may not adapt to you. So, you should follow that plan that is specially designed to think about your specific needs.

In short, you should ask professionals for help, follow their directions and be patient, because the bodies have different times of reaction/progression/adaptation, and it can take longer, or less time to progress without you doing something wrong.

Suggestion: Commit to do for 10/12 weeks the same training program!

Bad techniques

technique and posture

Did you know that if you don’t do step by step, calmly and patiently, you can have serious injuries after a few years?

Both posture and technique must always be taken into account during training. It’s not worth doing squats with 60kg when you don’t know what it is and how it’s done.

Some common posture errors are: Do not bend your knees, force your neck (for example when doing abdominals), do not keep your back straight, among others… Pilates and yoga can help you improve your posture. Try it!

It is very important to talk to instructors/personal trainers that help you in this direction.

It’s better to lose a little time at the beginning and move forward slowly than later to stop training for a muscle injury from poorly made exercises or the use of wrong weights.

Remember that! Safety and health are in the first place.

Also, an incorrect technique can recruit the wrong muscles and prevent you from making the most of the exercise you are performing.

Not to hear your own body

athlete in a break

A common mistake is to make too much effort too early, when you still have no experience or when you’ve been away for a long time.

Our body does not speak, but it gives us signs of how it feels and, in many cases, gives an alarm signal, for example: fatigue or pain!

It is common to have muscle aches and feel tired at first, but as you gain resistance, these symptoms may diminish, but when they persist for a long time, something may be wrong.

In many cases, it may be sufficient to slow down the pace of training or use a lighter weight (not to cause muscular atrophy), but in other cases you may need to hear expert opinions.

In short, to succeed you need to think that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Having patience is the way for you to see results of your effort and, following these advice, your journey in the gym can be easier and you can achieve your goals faster and more effectively.

Good training!


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About David Silva

David Silva
David Silva is a Personal Trainer and FIT and Life Coach. He uses his profession to inspire others and get them to achieve their goals, whether through his job or his writing. His motto is "A mission of life is a mission accomplished".

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