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Top 5 Most Common Beginner Mistakes

October 18, 2015 by Carl Nelson

When I first walked into a gym in 2000, I was completely overwhelmed with all the equipment, free weights, and machines available. I had no idea where to start nevermind how to actually perform any exercises other than bench press and curls. But through watching other more experienced lifters and reading online forums and magazines, I slowly "figured it out" and put together what I thought was a decent training routine. It was literally alternating chest/triceps with back/biceps every other day. No legs or shoulder training whatsoever. Now 15 years later, looking back at my early training days, I realize that I made nearly every beginner mistake in the books. It's amazing that I made as much progress as I did, but that's the great part about beginner gains. You can do nearly everything wrong in the gym and still make great progress. While I'm training in the gym, I don't go out of my way to help others unless they ask for it, or if I think they are going to seriously hurt themselves. No one likes being told what to do, and like myself, most people with a decent head on their shoulders will recognize their mistakes at some point and fix their training. Instead, I just silently watch them training and can't help but smile as I see some young kids quarter-squat with 315 lbs or do 5 forced reps with 225 lbs on bench press, because I was just like them at one point. The interesting thing is that you see beginners making the same mistakes over and over again. So without further adieu, here's my list of the Top 5 most common beginner mistakes:       
  1. Going To Failure Too Often - People always seem to think that in order to grow they need to go balls-to-the-wall on every set. Even Arnold said it in Pumping Iron that the last few reps is what makes the muscles grow. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown this is not the case and that training volume (sets x reps) is a much more important indicator of growth. There is a time and place for going to failure, but you need to pick and choose your spots. Doing 5 forced reps on bench at the beginning of your workout  
Neglecting Body Parts
Following Magazine Routines
Not Using the Basics
Having Poor Form Back to list