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The Biggest Workout Mistakes You Might Be Making

A woman sits on the floor of gym by a kettleball and water bottle.
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Achieving your fitness goals requires more than just showing up at the gym or engaging in physical activity. Avoiding some of the most common workout mistakes will help set you up for success so that you can optimize your routine and attain the results you desire.

Keep reading to learn six of the most common workout mistakes you might be making and some practical tips for improving those mistakes with commentary from personal trainer Josh Trammel at Austin, Texas-based Hyde Park Gym. 

Not Being Consistent

A woman sits on the floor of gym by a kettlebell and water bottle.
Day Of Victory Studio/Shutterstock.com

Consistency is key when it comes to fitness. Many individuals struggle with staying consistent in their workout routines. It’s easy to start off strong and even easier and more common to fall off the wagon and lose motivation. This inconsistency can lead to slow progress and results.

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To overcome this common mistake, it’s important to set realistic goals and create a workout schedule that fits your lifestyle. Find activities you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine.

“When people first start working out, their efforts are often aspirational instead of realistic. Meaning they imagine what the ‘best possible’ versions of themselves would do rather than what they could take on given their current lifestyle and time constraints,” said Trammel. “When in doubt, start with less than you think you can handle, and build up your routine as you gain confidence. That will help you with your consistency.”

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Also, don’t let the heat of the summer months or any other environmental factor disrupt your consistency. If you are training for a 5k and need to make time to run outdoors in the summertime, make sure you wake up early for your bi-weekly jog or go later in the evening when it’s cool and safe enough to do so.

In addition to keeping your workout plans realistic, committing to a schedule, and working around what the temperature is outside, accountability partners or joining fitness communities can help keep you motivated and moving towards your goals.

Skipping the Warm Up


Skipping the warm-up is a common mistake that many people make due to time constraints or underestimating its importance. Neglecting to warm up can increase the risk of muscle strains, joint injuries, and reduced performance during your workout.

Trammel shared that the warm-up is vital in helping raise core body temperature, improve mobility, and increase blood flow to the areas of your body that your workout will be targeting.

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Prioritize the warm-up session as an integral part of your exercise routine. Trammel recommended allocating at least 3-5 minutes to engage in dynamic stretches, light cardio exercises, Pilates, or mobility drills to get your body ready for the session ahead.

Studies have even shown warm-ups to help prepare you mentally for your workout, so make sure you don’t skip it. If this means arriving at the gym 5-10 minutes early to make it happen, we highly recommend it!

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Poor Form

A woman does a wall squat outside.
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Performing exercises with poor form is a common mistake that can also lead to injuries and prevent you from effectively targeting the intended muscles. It’s crucial to maintain proper form and technique to maximize the benefits of each exercise.

“Getting into and maintaining good positioning during an exercise is going to produce the best results. For most lifters, I recommend using a two-second count as they lower the weight and a one-second pause at the bottom of each rep to ensure technique is preserved and the muscles we’re trying to work are actually getting worked,” said Trammel.

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One common example of poor form while working out is rounding your back during squats. This not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise but also places excessive strain on the lower back instead of on your glutes and hamstrings.

You can educate yourself on the proper form by working with a personal trainer or watching instructional videos. If you are working with weights, start with lighter weights and gradually increase the intensity as you master the correct technique. Focus on engaging the targeted muscles and maintaining proper posture throughout each movement.

For that squat, make sure you are focused on hinging your hips forward and opening your chest to ensure your glutes and hamstrings are doing the work instead of your low back.

Lifting Too Much Weight

A man holds a dumbbell while sitting on a workout bench.
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Another common workout misconception is that lifting heavy weights guarantees faster progress. Research shows quite the controversy. Lifting excessive weight without proper preparation and strength can lead to muscle strains, joint injuries, and compromised form instead of the desired expedited results.

Prioritize gradual progression in weightlifting. Start with lighter weights and focus on mastering the correct form before gradually increasing the load. This approach helps build a strong foundation and reduces the risk of injury. Remember, quality repetitions with proper form are more effective than excessive weight with compromised technique.

Trammel explained that focusing on the amount of weight you are lifting alone, especially without proper form, can lead to poor technique, and even a stagnancy or plateau in training

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“While lifting heavy weights is not a bad thing, you want to make sure you’re lifting the heaviest loads that also allow you to maintain solid technique. If you find yourself compensating in weird ways or bending your body in various positions to get the load up, you’re doing too much,” said Trammel.

Leaving Out a Weekly Rest Day

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Rest days are not a sign of weakness. In fact, they are necessary to allow your muscles to recover fully. On rest days, the body repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue, replenishes energy stores, regulates hormone levels, and reduces the risk of overtraining, ensuring optimal performance and long-term progress.

Incorporate at least one or two rest days into your weekly fitness schedule. Use these days to engage in light activities such as walking or stretching, allowing your body to recover and recharge. Listen to your body’s signals and adjust your rest days as needed. Just make sure you don’t leave your rest day (or two) out.

Not Drinking Enough Water

A woman drinks from a water bottle
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Hydration is often neglected during workouts, which can impact performance, energy levels, and overall health. Dehydration, specifically, can lead to muscle cramps, decreased endurance, and impaired cognitive function.

“Being as little as 3% dehydrated can cause significant performance decrements to anything that requires power or strength. Pre-hydrate with some water 15-30 minutes prior to a workout, and make sure you’re keeping that up during the workout itself,” said Trammel.

Remember to listen to your body’s thirst cues and opt for water over sugary sports drinks or sodas. If you’re craving something other than water, pop an electrolytes tablet in your water bottle to optimize your energy levels throughout your session.

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Unlocking a consistent, well-rounded fitness routine comes with its setbacks. This list of common mistakes and solutions will help set you up for success and longevity.

Jenn Vigh Jenn Vigh
Jenn is a pilates and yoga instructor, an aerialist, and a travel blogger with 5 years of experience in nonprofit communications, and over 10 years of experience writing, teaching, training, performing and collaborating with creatives across the globe. For the last 6 years, her American home-base has been Austin, TX, where she’s worked with the aerial dance company, Blue Lapis Light, and enjoyed the sunshine with her world-traveling yorkipoo, Sheila. Read Full Bio »
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