The nine biggest bodybuilding & workout mistakes…

… and how to avoid them!

1 – Training without a program

A major error (which many people make) is jumping headfirst into sports without a clear goal in mind. Even though you may find it comfortable to do what you want via exercises that suit you best, you end up forgetting to work out important muscle groups. This can lead to poor motion awarness in the future.

To reach your goals faster, an adapted program is the best course of action. This is because training is more structured, efficient, and tailored to encourage you to reach your greatest potential while working out.

An effective training program takes all muscle groups into consideration and how to use them properly. Muscle imbalance – like the overdevelopment of a muscle/group of muscles leading to the damage of the entire muscle group – can be avoided if all groups are given equal attention whilst working out. Additionally, with a training program, you can track your performance by logging the weights, repetitions, etc. in order to assess and evaluate your progress and know when to alter or adjust your program.

2 – Underestimating the warm-up

The weather is nice, and you run to go to the gym. Or, you simply don’t have time. Does it matter if you don’t have a warm-up?

Yes, it matters. A warm-up is used to stimulate your blood circulation and prepare your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints for the effort you are about to put in – thus, preventing the threat of injury. Warming up protects joints from damage while increasing the effectiveness of your training. This also means more weight can be lifted in your training session or more repetition can be done in your bodyweight training session.

For a warm-up, 8-10 minutes of cardio on a machine of your choice, or some mobility exercise with systematic dynamic stretching are enough to prepare your muscles and get your blood circulation going in anticipation of the hard work ahead.

3 – Bad technique – choosing quantity over quality

What is your technique when you train? Do you pay attention to it? With a clean technique and correct gestures, any weight lifted will automatically seem heavier, every burpees will be lighter. Mastering the technique before adding weight or increasing speed is the best course of action, in order to avoid compromising on your ability or adopting the wrong/incorrect gestures.

Something that minimizes the effectiveness of training the most is the presence of incorrect body language or adjusting movements. If the targeted muscle group is not correctly activated, it will develop too slowly. This can also lead to unnecessary stress on the spine and joints, along with an increased risk of injury during the workout session (such as a trauma or fracture).

In case of injury, you will immediately have to stop your training until you recover – so, leave behind your airs in the locker room and opt for sticking to the plan with the technique that suits your goals.

4 – Training with too heavy or too light of a weight

When it comes to bodybuilding, are you shy? Or do you like showing off? The show-offs will put way too much weight on the bar or the machine, while the shy ones will be hesitant to put any weight at all. Same things happens during a cross fit training, by overdoing what your body is not yet ready to do.

A load too high can result in the overtraining of muscles. This, in turn, can cause an injury, leading your performance to suffer. On the other hand, a load that is too light will slow down the process of developing your muscles, as they will not be activated enough during the workout.

How do you figure out if you are doing it correctly? Or, what is the right way to do lift weights? The answer is simple. The load should be in accordance with your targeted muscle groups. Something to note is that your legs can lift more weight as compared to your upper body. Another tip is that the last reps in a set must be the most challenging. If the exercise is too strenuous from the get-go, it means the load is way too heavy, and you need to reduce it. If the exercise is too easy, this means the weight is too light, and you need to increase it. The best course of action is to slowly increase the weight you are lifting until you find the correct weight for your workout.

5 – Avoiding breaks and rests between sets

Do you keep track of time when you train? Or do you give it your all and lose track of the hours? Even though it may not seem like it, breaks in between sets have a huge impact on your performance. Your muscles essentially ‘recharge their batteries’ in rest periods.

The time duration differs according to every person and their desired goal. For training that focuses on building up muscle mass to the maximum, breaks of a large duration (such as 5 minutes or more) are recommended. Conversely, for stamina training of the muscles, 30 to 60 seconds are enough.

You can use a clock, a stopwatch, or simply your phone to monitor rest periods. Over time, your body will adapt to knowing when to naturally restart your exercise sets.

6 – Always using the same gestures

If you keep on training with the same gestures and lack variation in your workout, your muscles will adapt to the training stimuli. The endurance in your muscles will increase, and you will become stronger – however, with excessive training with the same gestures, your muscles will be at risk of stagnation. A way to avoid this stagnation is to regularly swap out your training routine for a new one – or, to keep alternating the stimuli to not get your muscles completely used to a singular exercise.  This principle is known as ‘Progressive Overload.’ Not only does this imply that the weight you are training with should increase, but also that:

  • You increase your repetitions or sets
  • You alternate between machines, dumbbells and / or body weight moves
  • You change the length or frequency of breaks
  • You incorporate other exercises into your sessions
  • You practice time to time an other physical activity, like yoga for example!

It is recommended to add new exercises to your routine every couple of months. This way, your muscles are stimulated in a new way, and you also avoid boredom!

7 – Missing the calm-down

You’ve just completed your workout, and you’re satisfied with yourself. Or, you’re just too tired to wind it all up correctly. We’ve all been there! However, it is important to know that the calm-down, or ‘return to calm’ is practically the other half of the warm-up.  This recovery phase is vital to reach your goals. It is the correct way to inform your body that the training is complete.

There are many benefits to a calm-down. Firstly, it allows you to cool your overheated body, similar to the way one cools down a machine that has previously been running at full speed / capacity. The calm-down allows your heart rate and respiration to return to normal, triggering your metabolism to start and recreation to improve. Pain, soreness, and the risk of cramping in your muscles are reduced overall as well.

An example of a calm-down would be to ride an exercise bike for 8-10 minutes or utilize a massage roller to stretch your fascia for some time. Certain stretches and yoga moves can also allow the body to cool down after a tough training session.

8 – Training every day without taking rest days

With regular training, your body will begin to acclimate to better respond to the effort required for an effective training session. Depending on the level of your workout, it may take days or even weeks for your body to adjust to certain exercises. This is why it is vital to work out on a regular basis, as consistency leads to mastery.

Rest days are vital to allow your body to recover from the strain and effort of your training days. If you train too often, your muscles will not be given the appropriate time to heal, and you will be unable to train effectively. With constant training (without a rest day), the risk of injury is exponentially increased – this can, in turn, slow down your progress and weaken you overall. Practically the opposite of what you want to take place when you train!

Listen to your body and give it enough time to heal.


  • Follow a training program
  • Keep a record of your training and document your progress
  • Start your training with a warm-up
  • Master the technique before adding weights or new difficult moves
  • With the correct load, the final repetitions of a weight-lifting series will be the most challenging to complete
  • Take breaks between sets/heats
  • Regularly increase the amount of effort put in your training
  • Calm-down after each training to help your body recover
  • Incorporate rest days into your routine to allow your body to recover

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