1) Having an “All or Nothing” mentality
“No Pain, No Gain”
“Give it EVERYTHING you’ve got”
“Feel the BURN”
“If you’re not sore you’re not working hard enough”
“110% effort all of the time”
Some of you might make good progress with this mentality, and some of you might need to think this way to get over plateaus or get you to the gym. But if you consistently live by these quotes, or something similar, you’re likely to stall with your lifts, your weight loss/muscle building progress, or will just hate lifting (because most people don’t like being sore 24/7).
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever push hard. There will be days where you’ll need to give 110% in the gym. But I’m mainly referring to those who leave the gym and aren’t able to sit down, go upstairs, or lift an arm without pain or soreness after every session. You know who you are.
It is possible to burn yourself out very quickly if you aim to go balls to the wall every gym session.
You must find a balance for yourself, physically and mentally, when going to the gym. Some days can be your “all or nothing days” while others can be a day of just gymming and not killing yourself.
2) Thinking you need to be in the gym every day (or need to do cardio every day)
You do not need to be in the gym 7 days a week to reach your desired fitness goals.
Most people make great results with only 3 days in the gym (as long as they are putting in the necessary work). However, if you like being in the gym 7 days a week and it isn’t a problem for you, then go 7 days a week. It’s just that sometimes people force themselves in the gym when they know for a fact that they don’t want to be there because they’re too tired from all of the other gym days, which will just create an unhealthy habit. Or maybe they just don’t have the time but continue to tell themselves that they “need” to make it to the gym, which is just going to continue to stress them out because they missed that extra day that they “planned” ongoing.
As for cardio, if you’re doing it every day for pure enjoyment, please continue doing so. However, if you’ve created this thought that the more cardio that you do in a week, the better and faster the results you’ll get, you’ll be disappointed. VERY disappointed. Not only due to the fact that you’re putting in a shit ton of time doing cardio and hate every second of it, but the fact that cardio isn’t the best option for fat loss. You’d be better off using that time to design a better diet to suit your lifestyle and fitness goal while using a combo of weight lifting and conditioning instead of cardio to cut back on the time that you spend at the gym and improve your results.
Plus, our bodies are pretty amazing at adapting to stressors (cardio, lifting weights, etc… ). So if you’re continuously doing cardio for long periods of time, multiple times per week, you’ll adapt and become more efficient at it.
What does that mean?
Well, if you started off doing 50 mins of normal steady state cardio burning 200 calories (this isn’t accurate, it’s just an example), your body will become “better” at doing cardio and will burn fewer calories for the same amount of cardio. This is quite annoying because your goal is to burn calories, right? So you’ll have to do more to burn what you used to. By utilizing a weightlifting program with conditioning, there are multiple ways to change the stressor (increase weight, reps, sets, decrease rest, etc… ) so that the body doesn’t adapt and become as “energy-efficient” when compared to regular low-intensity cardio.
3) Being afraid of gaining muscle or getting “too big”
Increasing muscle mass and decreasing fat mass is what everyone raves about. They just don’t know it.
This creates what some call, “toned, curved, lean, etc… ”
In order to increase muscle mass, you must lift weights. You must also increase the amount of work you do over time.
Increasing work can be done by increasing the weights you are lifting, increasing the total amount of reps you are performing (by increasing reps per set or keeping reps the same and increasing the number of sets), or a mixture of both.
3 sets of 10 with 100 lbs
We can increase the amount of work we are doing with these 3 options (colored in red):
3×10 with 105lbs = 3,150lbs
3×12 with 100lbs = 3,600lbs
4×10 with 100lbs = 4,000lbs
If the goal is to build more muscle, I would personally choose the 4×10 option due to more overall reps and work being done. However, if you’re pressed for time, I would suggest options 1 or 2.
By increasing the overall work you can do (we refer to this as “volume” = the poundage in the example above) the more energy (calories) you will expand. You will also expend more calories at rest with more muscle mass compared to if you had less muscle mass.
More calories will be spent to feed more muscle mass and do more work. You will be able to consume a higher amount of calories while dieting for fat loss compared to someone who isn’t lifting weights or doing a good amount of work. Would you complain about eating more food while leaning out?
“Getting too big”
First off, you need to put in some serious dedication towards training, programming, and dieting in order to get big. Most general gym-goers don’t have the desire to put in the amount of mental and physical work to get “too big”. But then again, everyone has their own idea of what “too big” is.
So I’ll just say this:
If you think you are getting “too big”, all you have to do is back off the gym a little or eat a little less. You’re not going to get stuck with huge muscles.
4) Doing exercises to lose fat in specific areas
You want your abs to show.
You want the underside of your arm to not be as flabby.
You want your love handles to go away.
You want definition in your thighs.
“We get it, you want to lean out.”
Doing crunches isn’t going to make your abs show.
Doing tricep extensions won’t reduce the flab under your arms. (That’s a mixture of your tricep muscle hanging with some fat covering it, so it’ll never fully go away)
Wrapping a waist trainer won’t reduce the fat around your love handles. (But it’ll temporarily cause you to look thinner)
Leg extensions won’t define your thighs. (We’ll it kind of will because it will build quad muscles)
You cannot target certain areas of the body to lose fat mass unless you get liposuction. Please do not go that route.
I need you to get creative for a second and imagine fat as a giant single cell that is surrounding your body (this is just an example). There are certain areas of the human body that store more fat than others. For example, we tend to store more fat in our midsections compared to our calves. So there may be 1 inch of fat at the calves but 2-3 inches of fat in the midsection. When we lose fat, that whole single fat cell gets a little smaller. You cannot target where it gets smaller, it just gets smaller all over. So now you might have ½ inch of fat at the calves but 2 inches of fat still at the midsection.
YOU CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS. So it’s best to just keep doing what you are doing by hitting the gym and stop worrying about targeting specific body parts for fat loss.
5) Expecting results without paying attention to diet
Most people think that hitting the gym is enough to get them their desired results.
Some people will find that they CAN get away with this and not have to worry about what or how much they eat.
Most other people will find that they CANNOT get away with this and struggle. They will try to do more at the gym and often end up thinking since they did more, they also deserve more “rewards” (food, ice cream, wine, you know what I mean). This causes them to consume more calories than they already were and preventing any kind of fat loss (if that was their original goal). Then they continue to struggle or think that “nothing works” and give up.
Don’t be that person. My advice when starting up at the gym:
Spend your first 2-4 weeks making the gym a habit. It can be 2, 3, or 4 days/week, as long as it’s realistic with your lifestyle and doesn’t create any problems with your schedule.
Once you have created the habit of making a set gym schedule that doesn’t affect your lifestyle, then spend some time educating yourself on the science of fat loss.
Once you understand how fat loss happens, then you can look up different dieting methods that will suit your lifestyle.
*Note that this isn’t a quick fix. This is a lifestyle change. If you are going to try a diet “temporarily”, you will only get temporary results. If you want to lose fat and keep it off, you must understand the process of how fat loss works and create a change in your eating habits to suit your goal and lifestyle.
*Try not to take on the gym and diet at the same time. This will stress you out and overwhelm you very quickly.
6) Not having a gym plan
Lastly, having a gym plan makes all of the difference in the world. Have you ever made it to the gym, warmed up on a treadmill, then asked yourself, “so, what should I work on today?” Then maybe you hit some arms, a few ab machines, then stretch and you’re done.
What do you do the next session? What weight did you use on the ab machine last session? How many reps were you able to do?
Sure, this may be fun for a bit and I definitely don’t expect a newcomer to hop right into a workout program. But having a program will give you guidance and will give you something to improve upon. Tracking the workouts you do, the sets, reps, and weight will show you the progress you’ve made over time. It will also help give you an idea of what areas you would like to focus on (like increasing your squat or deadlift) and will help you plan better for your next lifting session. You don’t have to follow some super complex program or record every little movement you do. But tracking workouts here and there and going to the gym with a plan will help you so much more than going to the gym without a plan.
– You don’t have to kill yourself every session. But don’t be a pansy and not push yourself.
– You don’t need to force more gym days to get good results. But if you enjoy it and it isn’t affecting you mentally or physically and isn’t messing up your lifestyle, then go ahead and do 4, 5, 6, or 7 sessions a week.
– Don’t be afraid of muscle.
– You CANNOT choose where you want to lose fat. So stop trying to target specific body parts with a fancy workout you saw on Instagram and start focusing on getting stronger and doing more work.
– Some of you might get good results by just going to the gym without diet changes. Most of you will need a plan for both the gym and the kitchen. Don’t expect crazy results if you’re not putting in the necessary work.
– Having a workout plan will get you better results VS not having a workout plan. So plan.
Featured Image: Feed Me Strength