This week we have a new, fun guest post from writer Bozhidar Karailiev, a fitness and health blogger. In this post, Bozhidar uses his experiences to share with you some of the top 5 common mistakes individuals make when they begin working out and provides great tips to avoid those mistakes. If you have any potential health or medical risks or are unsure of where to start, please seek advice from both a registered dietitian and a doctor for best results (if you would like specific workout ideas, a personal trainer may be beneficial as well). I hope you enjoy these tips and experiences from our guest writer and would love to hear any feedback you may have!
In this article, I will do my best to help you avoid the 5 biggest mistakes I (and most people) make during the first stages of our working out journey.
As Sam Levenson once said...
"Learn from other people's mistakes. Life is too short to make them all yourself."
And to be honest he is 100% right. The less bad mistakes you do, the faster and better results you will get.
If I had the option to go back in time and avoid making such I'm almost certain that my fitness results would be a lot better.
Stick to the end if you want to get everything from this article.
So without any further ado, let's start with the first mistake...
Mistake #1 - Eating Healthy is Not Enough
One of the first and worst mistakes almost every human on this planet do is to overthink the importance of food.
Studies show that following a meal plan and knowing what to eat every day can bring a ton of benefits such as great energy, healthier diet, less obesity, and more gains or simply said - better and faster results.1
Of course, these things are only the tip of the iceberg and you get a lot more benefits from eating healthy. That's nothing new and we all know how important nutrition is for our results.
But what dost the phrase "eating healthy" actually mean? What it really represents?
First, let me tell you what it doesn't:
It doesn't mean "try to eat healthy". It doesn't mean "I'll stop eating junk food" or "I'll drink more water". It doesn't mean "I'll try to...", etc.
Don't get me wrong I truly believe these things are important but they are not going to be enough to take you to the next level.
And this is the first mistake I'm going to talk about - the difference between "eating healthy" and getting real results.
Many of my friends (including me in the beginning) have this mindset that if you simply make some basic changes to your eating habits you are going to make it. Unfortunately, this simply isn't enough to help you create huge long-lasting results.
Big results are made from big and meaningful changes.
One of the best things you can do that is going to boost you ahead of the majority of people is simply to research (or pay someone) and make yourself a personal meal plan designed for you and your goals. **note there are a lot of untrustworthy sources of information out there, please focus on an eating lifestyle of balance and moderation or seek help developing this plan for a Registered Dietitian**
Sadly it took me about 1 year of constant struggles and poor results to learn that. The faster you start eating the right foods, with the right amounts at the right time the better results you will achieve.
If I have to be honest I'm a firm believer that nutrition is far more important than exercises.
If you get it right you are going to skyrocket your results.
Summary: No matter if you are just starting out or have some experience - make your nutrition a priority. Following a custom meal plan can get you 10x better results!
Mistake #2 - So What's Your Plan?
Ok, you want to work out and get into shape. Your plan is to start going to the gym or train at home 5 days a week while eliminating sugar and soda. But is it enough?
Sadly it isn't.
Even if this plan is better than having no plan at all (avoid this) I still don't believe it's the best thing you can do... And guess why? Because I did that... and I did it for a while.
It can be really frustrating when I see people who pay a monthly gym membership and don't know what they are going to do and why or they simply don't care. Those are people who don't have a plan. They work out for many different reasons but skip the most important one - to get healthy and become stronger.
Believe me these people are not going to achieve great results because they simply don't have a plan or a goal.
Here are a few of my favorite guidelines you can follow to find out if you already have a plan and a good goal.
Just answer these simple questions honestly and see for yourself.
- How much muscle mass do you want to gain (or fat to lose) in the next 30 days? (Specific number)
- Do you know what you are going to train specifically each day of the week (and which days you are going to rest or recover? (Monday - Cardio, Tuesday - Legs, etc.)
- Are you aware of what exercises you are going to do and why are you doing them? (I'm going to focus on squats and explosive jumps because I want to focus on my lower body)
- Are you balancing your portion sizes of your macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) every day?
- Are you tracking your progress and adapting everything? (This week I did 14 reps of bench press so I will add 10 additional lbs next time)
If your answers are positive for most of those questions, then congrats! You are on the right path. If not, try to find out what things you are lacking and how you can improve them.
Nobody is perfect but never stop improving and learning new things.
Set yourself a good goal, create a reasonable plan to get there and take action.
Summary: If you want to really succeed in fitness you must have a goal and follow a proper plan how to achieve it.
Mistake #3 - Proper Form - What?
I know that moment when you start to see your first gains and you get really excited. You feel like Superman and are eager to try those 45 lbs plates you saw most people use.
You decide to add them for the next set of your bench press and you aim for 10 reps. But soon after you lift the bar up the hard reality slap you in the face.
After only 5 reps you are done but you can't stop (not while all your friends are watching you) so in order to escape the humiliation, you start bouncing the weight up and down as fast as you can using everything except your chest to complete the movement... With all that hard work you only reach 8 reps but you still really proud - 8 is better than 5 right?
Well mathematically speaking yes, but your lower back and shoulders are not going to think so the next morning you wake up.
I'm really sad to tell you this but the person from this story is me and because of this stupid act I injured my right shoulder...(don't worry it's alright now)
And that bad experience caused me not to be able to work out for about 3 weeks... During those weeks I pretty much lost some of my progress and I wasn't happy about it.
So please don't be like me. Don't allow your ego and pride to take control.
No matter what you do prioritize your form over quantity or weight.
Trust me you can still get super strong and build a ton of muscle mass without the need to lose your form and technique.
Summary: One of the biggest mistakes people make when they get some early results is to start using too much weight which leads to poor form. Poor form can hurt you way more than it can help. In order to get the maximum out of every single exercise you do make sure to keep good technique and form.
Mistake #4 - No, I'm stuck... Now What?
It's really great when you are constantly seeing how your body slowly transforms and evolves. Especially in the beginning stages of your journey.
But eventually, at some point you will face your worst enemy - the plateau.
When that happens (which it likely will) you have to be prepared to face it.
If you are like most people you simply won't necessarily know when your plateau occurs if you are not mindfully working out or tracking your progress. That's why it is very important to keep track of your workouts and progress so you can easily see if your progress begins to plateau or not.
How do you find out if you are stuck?
Are any of these situations relevant to you?
... can't lose any more weight/fat mass.
... can't gain more muscle.
... can't get stronger.
... can't become more explosive.
... don't see any progress.
If that's the case then it is likely time for you to change a couple of things.
If one or more of those scenarios is currently happening don't panic and quit. That's why gyms are jammed packed in January and almost empty after a month or two...
Trust me quitting is not going to help you at all.
Here are a couple of great things you can do instead:
- Use progressive overload and try to break the plateau.2
- Take a few days off so your body can recover and give yourself a new try.
- Change things up by doing a whole new workout routine (If you do the same things over and over again your body will eventually become used to and you will stop getting results)
Summary: If you suddenly stop getting results don't feel depressed and quit. Instead, try to find out what is the main issue and fix it. Test something new and give it a try. Repeat until you start seeing results again.
Mistake #5 - I'm Going to Look Like The Rock
I'm going to tell you the hard truth. You likely won't look like the Rock - ever.
Even if you train like him, even if you eat like him or even if you are tall and handsome like him you simply can't be him.
That's not possible because of one big difference:
You and Dwayne Johnson are different people!
It's really good to have a role model and a fitness goal for inspiration but if you are not careful it can ruin your results.
It's simple - unrealistic expectations.
After watching countless videos of fake nattys on Youtube I started to feel sad and depressed.
He is training as long as me but has 2x times my muscle and strength? (and I was doing everything fine).
And I'm not alone. There are countless beginners who are just starting out and expecting to have Arnold's chest only after a couple of months of training.
When the reality speaks you become sad, depressed, self conscious, and want to quit. But actually, you shouldn't.
Because you made some sort of progress. Even if it's good to have role models it's not actually beneficial for you to directly compare yourself to them. The most effective way you can do that is to only compare yourself with...
Yes, that's how I do it now and it's giving me amazing motivation and energy to continue moving forward. I track my progress weekly and honor all the little improvements I've made in the last couple of days.
Doing so is going to guarantee you stay on track no matter what and you won't have the naive mindset that you can gain 40 lbs of pure muscle in 2 months and look like a greek god in a short amount of time.
Compare yourself with no one except your old self.
Notice and write down all the improvements you make (even the smallest).
Use celebrities and famous people as short motivation - not for comparison.
Be happy with your results you get no matter how big they are.
Follow all those tips carefully and you will really speed up your results.