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5 Mistakes I Made When I Started Exercising

When I first got into fitness I had no idea what I was doing. I was doing random workouts that I found online, trying to lift as much weight as possible, and I did not have a consistent schedule. That resulted in numerous pulled muscles, minimal results, and a lot of frustration. Don't be like me. In this article I'm going to share 5 of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my fitness journey so that you can avoid them.


Common Workout Mistakes

1. Jumping into workouts that are too advanced


I started lifting and conditioning in high school in order to prepare myself for basketball season, so what I would do is look up what workouts that some of the basketball greats did to get ready for their season. When a 5' 9", 130-pound sophomore in high school tries to do a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan workout... it doesn't exactly go as planned.


I started on the basketball court trying to make 500+ shots but ended up settling with 200 before calling it quits. Then I hit the weight room after that hour of shooting hoops and tried to do some squats. My legs were so tired from shooting hoops that I struggled to even get the bar up during the first set. My form was atrocious, my knees were screaming, and I felt a sharp twinge of pain in my upper back that I later found out was my first pulled muscle. "How am I going to get good at basketball if I can't even get through a workout?" I thought to myself.


So I decided not to pursue those superstar athlete workouts, but instead I tried out some bodybuilding workouts with the thought that I could put on muscle that way. After one workout I tapped out. The soreness that I had after that workout was like nothing I'd experienced before and it left me hurting for at least 3 days after the workout.


I had no idea what I was doing, but eventually I started realizing that the types of workouts that I was trying to do were way out of my current physical abilities. You wouldn't take a toddler who rides a bike on training wheels out to go mountain biking, so why would you treat you body the same way? It takes time to develop and progress to more advanced workouts and exercises. It's not something that happens over night. So before you go out and try the crazy 360 backflip push-up into a handstand that you see on Instagram, set a goal, and develop a plan for progressions you can make to get to that point.


2. Not following basic exercise principles


One of the biggest things that I can suggest is learning some basic exercise principles before you get started. Principles like progressive overload, rep-ranges, recovery time-frames and protocols, types of muscle contractions, aerobic training zones... etc. are incredibly important to maximize your potential when you workout.


When I first started I had no idea what those exercise principles were and had no clue how I could apply them. I just thought that the more weight you lifted, the stronger and more muscular you got. Or the longer you ran, the more in shape you would be. While those aren't inherently incorrect, there are way better ways to go about your training. Especially if you want to avoid injury and get the most out of your workouts.


The biggest recommendation that I have is to chat with a personal trainer about these exercise principles and learn more so that you understand how you can make progress towards your goals. Most trainers (good trainers) are always happy to talk fitness, and here at Jackson Ryan Fitness you can schedule a free consultation with a certified personal trainer.


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3. Ego Lifting


When I initially started lifting I would always try to match my stronger friends in whatever they

Avoid these fitness mistakes as a beginner

wanted to lift, even though I was way smaller than them, and lacked any lifting experience whatsoever. This, my friends, is called ego lifting. That basically boils down to lifting more weight than you can handle with very poor form. This is one of the main reasons why I suffered through a seemingly infinite number of pulled muscles when I got started lifting. Remember, don't be like the guy that I was.



First of all, get your form checked. When you're lifting weights, a quick form check is incredibly important and it can maximize your workout potential while also keeping you safe. Most injuries while exercising can be prevented with good form and smart training. We offer free form checks by a certified personal trainer, so take advantage of that!


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4. Working out too much, or too little


This one was huge for me, and this is why I wanted to share it with you all. Inconsistency is going to kill your progress in the gym. When I first started working out, I was trying to lift every day plus play basketball, and it ultimately led to me feeling burned out and overtraining. So then what I did was stepped back a little bit and trained a lot less, but my schedule was incredibly inconsistent. I would work out one day, then take a week off, then workout 2 or 3 days the next week, then not pick up a weight for another two weeks. That's pretty much the definition of inconsistency right there.


My recommendation is to make a plan or have someone make a workout plan for you so that you have no excuse for missing a workout or overtraining. At a bare minimum designate times and dates to exercise, but if you really want to see progress then you should talk to a personal trainer or someone qualified to design you a program based on your fitness goals.


5. Not eating healthy while training hard


Eating unhealthy can hurt your progress in the gym

Last, but certainly not least, is to avoid eating unhealthy while exercising. Your diet is just as -- if not more -- important than the training itself. What you put into your body is what fuels you and helps you recover from your tough workouts. The mistake I made was eating and drinking a ton of empty calories through fast food meals, sugary drinks, and processed foods. These are good for two things: sugar rushes and good tasting. These won't help your body as well as high quality means that are filled with protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy dietary fats. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietician about how you can change your diet to match your fitness and health goals!


Everyone is a beginner at some point, no matter what their journey may be. Even if you're not a beginner, but you find yourself falling into those same poor habits that I did, make sure to make the necessary changes today! Fitness journeys are not always easy, but I'm hoping that these tips help you avoid the same mistakes I did!

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