One of my favorite ways of learning is to learn what NOT to do.
So, to start off Lean Warriors with a bang, let’s discuss what I believe to be the biggest workout and diet mistakes beginners (and some intermediate) lifters make.
This mistakes come from my personal life over the years.
Like most beginners, I didn’t know what I was doing for the first couple of years inside. and outside, of the gym.
I didn’t realize how important macros and calories were in the muscle building and fat burning process.
I didn’t understand that 80% of your weight gain/loss results are going to come outside of the gym.
Now that I’ve been lifting right and able to gain/lose weight when I want, I figured I’d use all my experience over the years to help you reach your goals at a much faster pace.
The sooner you’re able to fix any (or all) of these mistakes, the sooner you’ll be reaching your fitness and nutrition goals.
1. Going Too Heavy On The Weights
All the rage these days with most workout routines you come across on the internet is the idea of going HEAVY.
Now don’t get me wrong — lifting heavy definitely has it’s place. It’s how you build god-level strength.
However, you have to ask yourself at what cost is getting that super-human strength worth it to you?
One of the mistakes I made early on was focusing too much on being strong.
I tried out all these different strength-building routines in order to “get big.”
The problem that I (still) consistently run into when I try to do heavy 3-5 rep sets is always the same:
My left elbow gets injured and I can’t move it for a few days.
Not being able to use my left arm for several days means that I can’t get into the gym and push weight.
And when I can’t push weight?
I can’t make progress and push my body to new levels in order to stimulate muscle growth.
Luckily, this is the only injury I’ve ever had to deal with in the gym. I’ve never had shoulder issues, knee issues or anything else.
I’ve talked to many guys over the years who have injured their shoulders or pecs or back by going too heavy.
These guys have been sidelined for several months due to their injuries.
Say goodbye to all your gains when you’re out of the gym for many weeks (and say hello to fat gain).
You’re going to spend 3-6 months (or more) to get your body back to where it was before you got injured.
There will always be people who argue that heavy weight is the only way. And, that’s true as long as you are doing the lifts with great form with a spotter who knows his shit.
This is where the problem lies with most beginners who buy into these heavy-lifting routines:
Your form is garbage. You’ve never had a legit personal trainer to walk you through every single heavy lift to make sure that you’re doing it right.
The more weight you add to the bar, the more your form is going to be off and put pressure on your joints.
Because of this, I highly recommend new lifters to focus on moderate weight with perfect form for the first year or so in your training.
Focus on doing exercises in the 8-20 rep range. I don’t recommend going heavier than 8 without a trainer who can correct your form!
If you’ve been lifting for years but still struggle to put on muscle, then I consider you a beginner.
This is a very common mistake I see in the gym all the time. All these heavy lifters with hardly any muscle to show for it…
2. Wishing I Took My Fitness and Nutrition Seriously 10 Years Ago
Because it can take several years to learn how to transform your body composition and start seeing results, I wish I started this journey 10 years ago.
But, it’s a mistake to live with this regret and focus on the past.
I’m not alone in this which is why I mention it here — of course you wish you knew this stuff 10 years ago, or more.
Who wouldn’t want that?
The reality is that every single one of us would do things differently if we could turn back the clock.
Such is life.
Therefore, don’t focus on that. Get that out of your head. Just focus on getting your weight lifting and nutrition on track starting today.
It’s better to focus on your diet starting today instead of 3 years from now.
I say that because there will be people reading this who won’t take any of these mistakes seriously. They will be in the same place (or worse) three years from now.
It’s the same reason why you go to the gym and you see the same people year after year, and they look worse!
I see many of these people everyday. It’s really sad because you want to help them… but you can’t help someone who doesn’t really take their training seriously.
So, put all that negative shit behind you. Focus on getting your workout training right and your diet under control today — not next week, not on Monday, not this weekend. Start today.
3. Changing Workout Routines Too Often
Here’s another very common weight lifting mistake you see beginners and intermediate lifters make all the time:
You get excited and extremely motivated about a workout routine you found on the internet. Perhaps it’s something that you feel fits your lifestyle.
You give it a try for a few weeks (if that) and make a little bit of progress.
However, by the third week or so, you’re bored and you want to give some new exercises or a new routine a try.
So, you find a new routine that has you doing different exercises and different rep ranges.
Because you’re changing up your rep range, you also have to change up the amount of weight you’re lifting.
In other words, you’re constantly experimenting to see where you’re at.
This is a big problem because you can’t make progress when you’re constantly changing up your exercises and rep ranges.
I’ve probably tried dozens and dozens of routines over the years. I was the type of guys changing my routine almost every single week.
And, it’s a big reason why I never made consistent progress.
My bench press was constantly stuck around the same weight for years. Because of this, my arms didn’t grow much. It’s also why my shoulders stayed small and petite ;).
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you’re an advanced lifter, you can switch things up because you know where your strength levels are at.
I switch things up often these days because I know how much I can lift at whatever rep range. I have all my progress saved so all I need to do is look where I’m at and progress from there.
But, if you’re a beginner or struggling to add mass, then do not switch up your exercises or routine until you hit a plateau (unless it’s one of these heavy lifting routines that’s damaging your body — change it immediately!).
Stick with it and make some real progress. Add 50 pounds to your bench. Get yourself to 12 body weight pull ups. Add 25 pounds to your shoulder press.
The temptation to change your routine will always be there. It gets boring doing the same thing over and over again, especially if you have A.D.D. and need to change things up. Resist!
4. Eyeballing Food and Hoping To Build Muscle/Burn Fat
Besides getting injuries from lifting too heavy, this is probably the second biggest mistake that men and women make.
Trying to build muscle or burn fat without tracking your calories is almost impossible for most people.
There are a few people who are lucky enough to get results without tracking, but for the majority of us, you must be tracking what you’re putting into your mouth.
The better you are at this, the better you’ll be able to get your body gaining and losing weight at will.
I’m at the point where I can gain or lose as much weight as I want (in a reasonable amount of time) because I know exactly how many calories I need for each goal.
It’s going to be different for everyone, but generally speaking you need to be in a calorie surplus to build size and a calorie deficit to lose weight.
The only way you’ll be able to figure out how much or how less you need to eat is to start tracking and monitor your results.
For starters, you’ll need a food scale and MyFitnessPal app to start tracking.
You’ll need a scale in your bathroom that you weigh yourself on in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
I didn’t track my calories for several years. I simply eyeballed all my food and when I “bulked” I was eating whatever I wanted to.
As a result, I put on a lot more body fat than I would have liked.
And when I went to lose weight, I ended up undereating — I was in too large of a deficit and lost a lot of the muscle that I spent so much time building.
Therefore, you need to learn how to track. I’ll write about that in a future article, but for now just use Youtube and learn about macros and calories.
The other common mistake I see is people going too hard on their diets.
You get motivated to lose weight, so you start eating in a deficit and burning 500+ calories doing cardio.
Again, this will put you in too large of a deficit and your body will use your precious muscle for energy.
You’ll lose weight doing this, but you will not have that toned, lean warrior look because your body burned up your muscle. Bad!
Take your time on your diets. Preserve that muscle!
5. Ignoring Flexibility and Mobility Exercises
The last common fitness mistake I made for years was overlooking the importance of my flexibility and mobility.
Long-story short, when you ignore mobility exercises, your body is going to stiffen up in certain spots and develop a lot of knots and muscle imbalances.
As a result, your posture gets worse and worse. You get painful knots in your back, shoulders, glutes and more.
Your shoulders are rolled forward which makes you appear much smaller than you actually are.
Your hamstrings and glutes are so tight that you can’t even touch your toes.
You get back pain because you sit all day and the muscles are stuck in a tight position.
All of these terrible problems can be resolved through flexibility and mobility exercises. And, it’s something I wish I focused on years ago.
When you’re only pushing heavy weights with dumbbells, machines and olympic bars, your smaller, stabilizer muscles are being ignored.
The longer they’re ignored and not getting a good stretch (or the longer you sit in the same position), the more your body (slowly) moves into poor postures.
As an example, much of the muscle pain I get in my back and shoulders is because my shoulders are pulled forward.
If I consciously pull my shoulders back to where they should be, nearly 80% of the muscle strain I feel disappears almost instantly.
The problem I face is getting my shoulders to stay back all the time.
The only way to get them to get them back into their healthy position is through stretching, flexibility and mobility exercises that will strengthen those stabilizer muscles.
These exercises are done with resistance bands, body weight, high reps and time. It’s really the only way.
Therefore, spend at least 3 days a week doing mobility exercises that correct your posture and position of your muscles.
Get up and stretch as often as you remember. You’ll thank me later!
Don’t Make These Common Fitness and Diet Mistakes
This is by no means a full list of mistakes. There are far more that I see on the daily.
But, this is what I believe to be the biggest mistakes that beginners and some intermediate lifters make.
Learn from my mistakes!
Feel free to comment below with any questions or comments and let’s get some discussions going. And please share this article so others can learn from it. Thanks!