The Top 10 Exercise Mistakes

Big Vanilla’s certified personal trainers spend long hours at the gym watching people work out, so they are well-versed in the biggest mistakes people make while sweating it out. Here is their take on the 10 biggest exercise mistakes they see at the gym, and how to avoid them.

Exercise Mistake #1: Lifting too much weight

“Lift too much weight and you risk injuring your body,” says personal trainer Randy Kimery. He adds, “Putting on more weight than you can control leads to terrible form to complete the reps.” Trainer Mika Braswell says she also “sees this all the time.” “Do not swing weights or use momentum/inertia to perform a lift,” says trainer Brian Brown. He suggests “asking a certified personal trainer for help with proper form.” Challenge yourself with a weight so your last couple of reps are difficult to complete, but you can still maintain correct form.

Exercise Mistake #2: Doing workouts that are too long

Long workouts do not equal better results. Your body responds to quality over quantity. Trainer Trish McMahon says, “If you’re spending hours at the gym and your body isn’t changing, you need to change your workout routine.”

Exercise Mistake #3: Doing isolated exercises

Doing isolated exercises like bicep curls will NOT get you substantial results. “In order to build lean muscle and burn fat you need to perform exercises that use as many muscles and expend as much energy as possible at the same time,” says McMahon.

Exercise Mistake #4: Locking arms at the elbow while on StairMaster or similar equipment

Brown suggests you “use a lower level or lower speed and take larger steps (range of motion) while keeping arms and hands in front of your body and very lightly on supports or free of supports completely.”

Exercise Mistake #5: Doing too much cardio on machines

“Get off the machine and go outside. Running on a treadmill is NOT the same as running outside,” says trainer Anne Johns. She also suggests “Getting off the machine and getting under some weights. Nothing like a good weight training session to elevate heart rate and build strength.” Personal trainer Tyler Watts agrees “a good mix of cardio and weight training gives the full effect, from bone density to heart health!”

Exercise Mistake #6: Doing the same routine all the time

Don’t go to the gym on autopilot. Mix it up to avoid hitting a plateau. Don’t be shy about trying new exercises or a new class. Watts suggests, “You can change what muscle groups you work out together on the same day, how many exercises per muscle group and how many sets/repetitions for each exercise.” It does a body good and it’s more fun. After all, variety is the spice of life!

Exercise Mistake #7: Rushing through exercises

You’ve already committed to spending time at the gym, so what’s the hurry? People rush through exercises and by not going through a full range of motion, they don’t fully benefit from the exercises they are doing. Instead, stay focused on one exercise at a time and make sure you have proper form – slow down and make it effective!

Exercise Mistake #8: Wearing inappropriate clothing to the gym

Baggy clothes and jeans can hinder a workout and get caught on cardio or weight machines. In addition, wearing worn out shoes can cause knee injuries. “You want to be comfortable in the outfit that you are wearing to the gym so you can get your best workout routine in but not something that is too loose or baggy.” Personal trainer Amanda Jenkins advises, “Wear appropriate shoes. If you are running, wear running shoes. If you are playing tennis, wear tennis shoes. Replace shoes when you can see the sole wearing down.”

Exercise Mistake #9: Only doing one set

Are you doing only one set of reps for each exercise? You may be wasting your time. To make the most of your workout, repeat, repeat, repeat. It is important to do at least two to four sets of each exercise to fatigue the muscles to get better overall results.

Exercise Mistake #10: Overtraining and undertraining

New Year’s resolutions, bikini season, an upcoming wedding – there’s always a new reason for wanting to get in shape. While committing to fitness is great, don’t overestimate how much your body can handle. You don’t want to overstress your body which can lead to injury. Start slowly and safely if you are adding a new workout routine and ramp it up when you are confident you are ready. Watts says another important tip is “allowing enough rest for each muscle group.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, Watts says “he sees many people that don’t get to the gym enough to make progress.” Once every two weeks is better than nothing but it certainly won’t help you reach your fitness goals.

Want to learn the best workouts for your body? Schedule an appointment with Big Vanilla’s Arnold or Pasadena personal trainers and see how you can maximize your workout and reach your fitness goals!


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