Fitness Tips

5 Beginner Workout Mistakes a Trainer Is Begging You To Stop Making

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/Tempura
Starting a new fitness routine is nothing short of exhilarating. Within the first week, you’ll likely find yourself with more energy, better sleep, a boosted mood, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with knowing that you’re doing something good for your body. But while any sort of movement deserves to be celebrated, there are a few beginner workout mistakes a trainer wants you to stop making in order to reap the full benefits of your new regimen.

Below, Anthony Crouchelli reveals the most common mistakes that he sees fitness newbies making all the time, and shares his tips for kicking them in the bud so that your healthy new way of life can stick around for the long haul.

Beginner workout mistakes to avoid

1. Attempting too much, too soon

“The biggest mistake I see people making with a new fitness routine is volume output,” says Crouchelli. “They try to jump into as many workouts as they can and then they either get hurt, or they burn themselves out.” He notes that he’s seen clients attempt to stack two or three complete sweat sessions into a single day, which is decidedly not a good idea. “People feel like that’s what they need to do to kickstart their life, as opposed to growing just a little more every single and actually building a foundation with proper functional movements.” When kicking off a new routine, he suggests building up slowly, and using the first week or two to really set a baseline for yourself. Then, you can build up from there. “Know that you’re making a positive start, and that it takes one rep and one step a day,” says Crouchelli.

2. Improperly fueling your body

When you’re working out, your body is expending more energy, which means you need to shift your nutritional intake accordingly. “You should prep your nutrition and fuel in the same way you prep your workouts, because they go hand-in-hand” says Crouchelli. If you’re having an intense strength-training or cardio day, you’ll want to give your body the nutrients it needs to successfully make it through your workout. Before your morning workout, grab something small (like a banana or protein bar) to sustain you. Post-workout, dive into a meal that’s equal parts carb-and-protein heavy (ideally within 30 minutes). Plus, since your new workout routine means you’ll likely be sweating more than usual, you’ll also want to monitor your water intake to ensure you’re staying hydrated.

The truth about protein bars:

3. Lifting too heavy

While a trainer might tell you to “grab a medium weight,” the term “medium” means completely different things to different people. “People gravitate toward grabbing weights that are too heavy,” says Crouchelli. “And people will overstretch themselves with the amount of volume they think they can output, which puts them at the risk of impacting joints and getting hurt.” Your best bet, he says, is to air on the side of caution and grab something light, and if that becomes too easy, you can then swap it in for a heavier weight.

Light weights? No problem:

4. Skipping recovery days

While active days tend to be the major focus in any new routine, your rest days are just as critical for building strength. Your muscles need time to repair in order to get stronger, which is why it’s important to build active recovery into your schedule. “I really live inside the ‘five and two method,’ which means you have five active days and two days focused on recovery,” says Crouchelli. “It’s great to build recovery into your workout, whether with active mobility work or taking the time to properly rest.” Crouchelli suggests spending at least 10 minutes, twice a week, on mobility work, which will help to decrease inflammation in your joints. Active stretching is also key for helping to relieve tension in muscles you’re likely working in entirely new ways.

Don’t forget to stretch and recover:

5. Working through the pain

If you’re new to fitness, you may not be able to recognize the difference between second-day soreness and actual pain, which can present some problems for you in the long run. “There’s a difference between soreness and pain, and I think a lot of time, beginners bypass the pain because they think it’s soreness,” says Crouchelli. “But in reality, because they think it’s soreness when in reality, their form is off or they’re causing stress and impact on their joints, which becomes a longterm risk.” A useful way to tell the two apart? Soreness will usually be more evenly distributed throughout the body (aka through the muscles you’ve worked) and will go away on its own after a few days of rest, while an injury will stick in one spot and keep its intensity. The key here is to listen to your body, and when it’s telling you to take a rest day, listen. 

Looking for a workout to help kickstart your routine? Follow along:

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