52 Beginner Bodybuilder Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make (Complete List)

I’ve made many mistakes in my training.
I made them as a beginner in my gym workouts.
I’ve made them many years into this gym life.
Maybe you have too.
That’s why I decided to save you some time by giving you a list of beginner bodybuilder mistakes that can be avoided.
Some of the tips I’ve listed will help if you’ve noticed you stopped making gains or if you have made zero or near zero progress in the gym.
If you’ve found yourself stuck, then read on…

#1 Training the same muscle on consecutive days

My first day at the gym I was assigned a personal trainer.
Four personal training sessions to get me started.
It was included for signing up.
So I put myself in the hands of my trainer and I thought I would find myself going from skinny to Mr. Olympia in no time.
I know now that I was way too optimistic, to say the least.
But one of the worst pieces of advice my trainer gave me, maybe the worst when i look back, is he told me to do the same workout every day.
That’s right.
Same workout 5 days per week.
He clearly told me to do bench pressing every day.
Bicep curl every day. Shoulder press and do leg extensions every day.
So for the next 2 years that’s what i did. Did i gain muscle?
I actually lost muscle.
I didn’t think it was possible but i can vouch for it.
If you train the same muscle on consecutive days you won’t experience gains.
Gaining muscle is about stimulating the body with the right exercise, muscle tears down, heals when you rest and then it grows. Don’t do what i did.
Unless you want to waste your time.

#2  Not eating enough

Muscle gain and fat loss comes down to a simple formula.
Fat loss depends on whether you burn more calories than what you eat. Gaining mass depends will require consuming more calories than what you burn off.
So if you think that eating 2000 calories is going to cut it, I’m sorry but it won’t.
Oh, you don’t know how many calories you consume in a day?
Track it.
It’s the only way you’ll be able to make make gains.
Eat more if you’re not putting on mass.
If you don’t know how much more you need to eat, start off slow with a 200 calorie increase and go up a little every month.
There’s many ways to increase your calories if you have a hard time eating more.
Some guys drink their calories.
Either way, if you’re not putting on mass you might not be eating enough.

#3 Not getting sleep

This might end up being the biggest obstacle to guys gaining muscle.
Regardless of age, if you’ve been training for a couple of weeks or many years, not getting enough sleep is what most guys struggle with.
Maybe it’s long hours at work or school or simply developing habits like watching late night tv, ESPN or your favorite Netflix show.
Whatever it is, it’s setting you back.
Studies have shown that poor sleep is a big factor in low testosterone levels in men.
Low testosterone equals very little to zero muscle gains.
Lesson here: 7 to 8 hours of nightly sleep is important if you’re trying to gain muscle.

# 4 Not getting rest

I’m not repeating myself. Sleep is one factor and rest is a whole separate issue.
Yes, it’s important to sleep well every night.
But you also need to take days off between your training.
Going all out on your strength training 7 days a week will backfire.
The body can only handle so many days of training before it starts begging you to back off and take some days off.
You’re body will tell you either by getting sick or simply plateauing.
Find a way to take at least a full 2 days off from training.
Or take a day off in between strength training sessions.
This will give your body the rest it needs to repair what you’ve broken down in the gym.
Add a deload week every month of every couple of months.
Other ways to give your body proper rest is by adding massages, hot baths, icing sore muscles and foam rolling.

#5 Not doing compound exercises

Tuesdays used to be arm days for me. Yes, i was that guy who dedicated one entire workout to biceps and triceps.
Sometimes just to my biceps. I blame it on bodybuilding magazines.
All i basically did were 3 variations of bicep curls.
Final result.
Arms that were barely bigger than the year before.
Looking back on those workouts, sure they were fun, but i missed out some gains.
Compound movements work. I know that now.
Compound movements give you the most bang for your buck.
Compound movements hit more muscle groups.
This doesn’t mean you have to ditch isolation movements like bicep curls.
You can still do them. Just don’t focus your entire workout on isolation exercises.

#6 Not lifting heavy

Want to get bigger? Then lift heavy.
I don’t know if there’s this fear that lifting heavy will make a guy look like a powerlifter.
But you can’t expect to get bigger by going heavy just to get a pump.
Gaining muscle requires tearing down the muscle.
And if you think that lifting huge amount of weight will have you looking like a powerlifter, well just look at Arnold’s early days of training.
It resembled powerlifting.
But don’t worry, it’ll take you a long time to lift tons of weight.
The lesson here is not to go light.

#7 Using machines all the time

When i first started training the first 2 or 3 months i stuck with machines.
Every few months I’d go back and use them to target certain body parts.
I can’t say it really helped me make the gains i wanted to see.
I actually saw more gains once i started going with free weight workouts.
I will admit that machines help you understand how to use proper form.
When you’re a beginner it’s important to figure out how to use proper form.
It’s also important to help your body get used to lifting weights.
Machines serve a purpose in the beginning but using them long term isn’t the best option.
Move into free weights once you know how to use proper form.
It’s ok to include them in assistance exercises but don’t make them your bread and butter of your training.

#8 Being inconsistent with your training

Consistency is key. Consistency is your best friend.
I’ve been going to the gym for over 10 years and after all these years I see the same thing happen right before Thanksgiving and right after New Year’s Day.
A busy gym with new people.
Two weeks later the gym is a lot less busy.
Here’ the deal, you can’t expect to see results by training a bit here and there.
You can’t expect to transform your body by going 3 days to the gym this week and showing up one time two weeks from now.
Can’t do that my G!
If you want to look better it starts by making a commitment to training.
Set a schedule.
Plan the days and times that you’ll train and stick to it.
You’ll see how well your body will respond 30 days, 60 days, 90 days from now.
You’ll look back a couple of years from now and you’ll be surprised at how far you came.

#9 Forgetting to take days off

Here’s a flaw that we all have when we are super dedicated.
We don’t know when to quit.
Now, I’m not saying to quit entirely.
I’m simply saying that when we are on a mission to become the biggest, fittest, most ripped dudes in the gym, the mistake we make is training every single day.
Sounds good.
Train every day and you’ll the goal much sooner.
In muscle building it’s not exactly the best approach.
You have to know when to train and when to take days off.
It’s when you take a break that the body begins to recover and build muscle.
Instead of training on a daily basis, dial it back a notch or two and go 3, 4 or 5 days in the week.
Take a couple of days off.
And don’t freak out when you get sick or have to skip on a workout.
You won’t get skinny overnight.
It doesn’t work that way.
As long as you’ve been consistent you won’t lose the muscle you’ve gained.
In fact, take a week off every 2 or 3 months.
It’ll help you from plateauing.
You don’t want to plateau. When you plateau you won’t get stronger.
If you don’t get stronger you won’t gain muscle.

#10 Spending way too much time on dumbbell exercises

I love using dumbbells.
But I’ve seen a lot of instances where guys use only dumbbells and stay away from any other piece of equipment.
It’s probably a matter of preference.
But what’s best?
Doing bench presses at 225 pounds or doing chest presses with 80 pound dumbbells?
Yes, it feels different but your body will adapt to heavy loads.
You can stack more weight on a dumbbell. Find a balance.
Use barbells and add a few dumbbells to a workout.

#11 Neglecting the pull up bar

Washington D.C. July 2013.
I was drunk while riding the subway when some college kids challenged each other to a pull up competition.
So like any mindless drunk guy, what did i do?
Yes, i got up and challenged them to beat me at pull ups.
I went first, did 24 straight pull ups.
The other guys looked at me and said, “you won, man.”
Why am i telling you this story?
Probably to show off…
But I can also tell you that I don’t know a lot of guys who can do more than a couple of pull ups.
That’s unfortunate.
A pull up bar will give you an awesome back workout, develop your lats and you’ll get an amazing bicep workout too.
If you fail to use the pull up bar you’re cheating yourself.
You’re cheating yourself of getting a muscular back, bigger arms and gaining strength.
Use the pull up bar even you can only do 1 or 2 pull ups.
In time you’ll be able to do a few more.
One day you too can be drunk and in a Washington D.C. subway winning pull up competitions…

#12 Having your workouts revolve around bench pressing

I still don’t know why us guys love to spend more bench pressing than we (insert favorite activity here)… There’s more to any workout than just bench pressing.
There’s no need to bench press 3 times per week.
There’s also no need to start your workout and focus all of your energy on that bench press while making every other workout a 2nd priority.
If you’re squatting on that day, then squat first.
It’s the most taxing exercise.
Bench pressing isn’t the most taxing exercise.
Always start with the exercise that is most tiring and then move on from there.
And bench pressing on consecutive days is pointless just as with any exercise.

#13 Doing only high rep workouts

If you check out most bodybuilding magazines you’ll see a bunch of high rep workouts.
Exercises in the rep range of 10 to 15.
Personal trainers will do the same.
After signing up you’ll get assigned a workout that has 10 reps and tell you to stick with it.
In the beginner stages you’ll see results.
But it’s also important to know the purpose of high rep workouts versus lower rep workouts.
High rep workouts will give you a good pump and make your muscles look full.
But the pump will be short lived.
You’ll notice that after a workout your muscles look awesome.
But you’ll look this way for a day or two then your results look less impressive.
Focus on doing lower rep workouts in the 4 or 5 rep range to gain some density and switch to 8, 10 and 12 reps after a few weeks to give them some sarcoplasmic growth.
If you do it right you’ll create a shrinkwrap effect that will make you look ripped.

#14 Copying professional bodybuilder workouts

In 2001 I was walking around the Silverlake area of Los Angeles with my dad.
This is before the hipsters moved in and established coffee shops with unemployed “writers.”
While we were walking around one of the streets my dad looked down and said, “look some exercise magazines.”
I felt like I had hit a jackpot. Bodybuilding magazines galore.
Packed with workouts that fit barely fit in a 10 gallon box.
I packed them all in a 10 gallon container once i got home.
I got serious.
Dissected each workout.
Looked at the best chest workouts.
The best leg workouts.
You name it.
I split it up and went in full force.
What did I gain.
Absolutely nothing.
Barely got a single gain.
And honestly, I’ve never known or met anyone who said they got bigger because they followed Ronnie Coleman’s bodybuilding routine.
See there’s a reason for that. Bodybuilders are doing steroids and you’re not.
Hopefully you’re not.
For us drug free, natural, um excuse me “nattys,” we can’t handle the same load as a roided up bodybuilder.
20 sets per bodypart workouts don’t help us at all.
There’s no point in doing workouts that only steroid laced bodybuilders use.
Save yourself the time, trouble and possible injury and simplify your training.

#15 Quitting too soon

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”
Lance Armstrong
This goes for anyone who’s looking to gain muscle or lose fat.
You can’t expect for results to come in a week or two.
Unfortunately this is the reason few people stick to their New Year’s Resolutions plans.
It’s the reason you see people join the gym and disappear forever after 2 weeks.
You can’t quit. Whatever your goals are don’t quit.
If you want to have the body you’ve dreamed of it’s going to take a lot of work.
It’s going to take planning and persistence.
Plan on being in the gym for longer than a few weeks or months.
Plan on being there for a years to come.

#16 Being afraid of eating fat

The word fat has become a bad word for some strange reason.
But fat can be your ally.
I’m obviously not telling you to eat a pound of bacon on the weekend.
There’s actually such as thing as healthy fats.
In fact, fat might not give you cardiovascular issues like we once thought, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  
However, depending on your height, weight, age and goals is what will determine how much fat you should be eating.
There’s calculators that can help you figure that out here.
For a quick list of healthy fat foods check out Authority Nutrition.

#17 Weighing yourself everyday

I don’t even bother.
I think weighing yourself every day is pointless.
I also feel like weighing yourself every week is pointless as well.
If you weigh yourself today and the scale says you’re at 190.
Then tomorrow the scale says you’re 188.
Don’t freak out thinking you lost muscle.
A couple of pounds above or below the previous day is likely food or water retention that’s playing with your mind.
Weighing yourself once per month will give you a better idea of how you’re progressing.

#18 Thinking one month of training will make you look like Arnold

“Patience is the support of weakness; impatience the ruin of strength.”
Charles Caleb Colton
I don’t know what is about weights and gyms that make us think that we’ll get bigger after just one rep.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen guys do some curls, put the dumbbells down and flex in front of the mirror.
As if muscle grows in 12 seconds.
If it’s done for vanity, I guess I’ll let it slide.
The problem is that when the gains don’t come in as fast as expected it causes people to quit.
I’m not surprised when guys hit the gym, start training and in a month or two they stop altogether.
I’m not surprised because bodybuilding magazines, fitness gurus and supplement companies sell this pipe dream of gaining muscle in a matter of days or weeks.
With false promises like those it’s easy to get caught up in a fantasy of looking like Arnold, Jay Cutler or Phil Heath.
So keep something in mind.
If you’re going to transform your body it’s going to take time and patience.
This is a lifestyle change.
Change won’t happen overnight.

#19 Forgetting all about macros

It’s complicated. Food, nutrition, macros and micros…
Let’s me just quote PopSugar and their definition of what macros is, “ The three categories of macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The caloric combination of the macros is where that mysterious total number of calories comes from.”
According to PopSugar:
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
If you plan on gaining muscle, the recommended guideline is: 40 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent fat.
You can count calories all you want but it’s pointless if you’re eating the right number of proteins for muscle building or the right number of carbs and fats for energy.
Eat smart.

#20 Not listening to your body

“The body never lies.”

Martha Graham

It’s tempting to force yourself to do a training session.
Even when you’re sick or feeling run down.
Of course you’d want to force yourself.
All that effort in the gym and then feeling forced to quit a few days of training.
It doesn’t feel right.
But the truth is you have to listen to your body.
If it feels run down or strained, then take a day or two off.
That’s your body telling you it needs a rest.
If you push yourself too hard you’ll just experience setbacks.
You’ll get weaker, maybe get sick.
You won’t lose msucle by taking a few days off.
You’ll actually come back stronger by doing so.

#21 Thinking you’re a hardgainer

I’m convinced the term “hardgainer” has become a trendy word in gyms and with fitness gurus.
The truth is most people have a hard time gaining muscle.
That’s not a mystery.
It’s easier to burn fat than it is to gain muscle.
But the truth is a true hardgainer looks more like Andrew Garfield.
Skinny like a 1 mph gust of wind will blow him off.
But these days I’ll see fitness guys or people at the gym refer to themselves as hardgainers but look more like Zach Galifianakis.
If you have a thick, i.e. endomorph body type, then you aren’t a hardgainer.
Chances are you’ll do just fine. Muscle gains take time. It takes work.

#22 Being afraid of cardio

I don’t know what happened.
I wish i could go back in time and pin point the same exact moment this happened.
One day bodybuilding magazines and aspiring meat heads stopped doing cardio altogether.
All because of a warped fear that cardio would create anorexic like bodies.
Here’s the truth.
Cardio won’t make you lose muscle.
At least not if you do it right.
But it takes a lot of cardio.
Lots and lots of cardio for muscle loss to occur.
How much?
Marathon runner style cardio.
Jogging for a few minutes won’t make you lose muscle.
Walking on a treadmill won’t make you lose cardio.
But sprinting and interval type cardio willl help you keep your muscle.
It might even help you gain muscle if you do it right.
If you have any doubts that sprinting works, then look at NFL players like running backs or tight ends and wide receivers.
If you want to look lean i don’t see why you wouldn’t do some form of cardio.

#23 Warming up the wrong way

Every night, as I walked into the gym the first thing I’d do was step up to the lousy treadmill and jog for 10 minutes.
That was my definition of a warm up.
A jog on the treadmill? I can’t believe it now.
I mean, sure it gets you sweating, but that won’t prep you for an amazing strength training workout.
And I know beginners sometimes start a warm up with a full 30 minutes of cardio.
Don’t bother.
Instead what you want to do is fire up your central nervous system.
It’s easy to do.
Do some prisoner squats, some jumping jacks, bear crawls, bodyweight lunges, even some burpees and you’ll be ready for some action.
That’s just one way.
There’s many ways to get a dynamic warm up going.
You’ll definitely be ready for the weights.
Maybe you’ll start lifting heavier a lot sooner.

#24 Not warming up at all

Jack Lalanne. I admire that man.
One of the pioneers of fitness and muscle building.
He went on to live to be 96.
Despite admiring the man, he didn’t believe much in warming up before a training session.
In fact, he saw it as a waste of time.

He said, “15 minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out there and eats the sucker.”

Yeah, that’s a pretty bold statement.
Unfortunately, most of us risk injury without a warm up.
I’ve also found that my workouts pretty much suck without a warm up.
In order to have a kick ass workout you have to fire the central nervous system.
Get the CNS going and fired up.
You’ll see the quality of your workouts improve.
And you’ll see that you’ll be lifting heavier with the simple act of warming up
#25 Doing endless number of exercises
If you’re spending hours in the gym you’re doing yourself a disservice.
One of the best ways to keep your workouts effective is to keep it as simple as possible.
Have a handful of exercises that are carefully picked.
Keep it under an hour and get out.
There’s no need to do 10 exercises and 2 or 3 hours of work.
It won’t work.
Simply things.

#26 Doing endless number of sets

It’s similar to what i mentioned above.
Why do 10 sets of one exercise?
I’ve seen this too many times.
A guy gets on  the bench press.
Someone comes up and asks how many sets they have left.
They guy says, “I have 12 sets left.” Man, if you’re doing double digit sets you’re setting yourself up for failure. You won’t gain muscle. You’ll just burn out.

#27 Wearing weight belts

There’s this dude.
Let’s call him Conan.
Actually, that’s they used to call him at the gym I used to go to.
Conan was a big dude.
But Conan always wore a weight belt.
Conan wore a weight belt in the gym at all times.
I never saw him take it off.
Not even when doing leg extensions.
The problem is he trained other newcomers.
They all wore weight belts.
The point of a weight belt is to wear it when you’re lifting some heavy weight that can potentially blow your lower back.
Chances are that if you’re a newcomer to the strength training game you won’t need a belt.
A belt will only keep you from strengthening your core.
Not strengthening your core will set you back.
Your core will help you strengthen your lower back and help you lift heavier weight.
You’ll do yourself a disservice by using a weight belt.
Lesson here.
Don’t be like Conan.

#28 Wearing gloves with every exercise

“Are those garbage man gloves?”
I remember asking my buddy that one time as we were working out.
My buddy wasn’t wearing them.
We were looking across the room at a guy who was training in them the entire hour.
Apparently this was a thing with a few people at this gym.
Those gloves stood out like a sore thumb.
Actually, it was pretty embarrassing.
But the truth is wearing proper workout gloves all the time is also not the most impressive thing.
In fact, I’d say wearing workout gloves sets back your potential strength gains.
The point of workout gloves is to protect your skin from getting beat up on really tough lifts.
Unless you’re pulling some heavy weight or have sweaty ass hands then I don’t see the point in wearing them.
I mean, why would you wear gloves when you’re curling 30 pound dumbbells?
And why wear gloves when you’re bench pressing?
If you’re holding that bar tightly it won’t go anywhere.
Get your hands to gripping heavy weight.
So remember.
Don’t wear weight lifting gloves with every exercise.
And definitely don’t’ wear garbage man gloves as an alternative.

#29 Wearing knee straps

Ok, there’s nothing stranger than seeing a dude wrap his knees when he’s squatting 135 pounds.
I mean, unless you have knees that are one step from blowing out there’s no reason to use them when doing low weight.
Knee straps are for some out of this world squat lifting.
It’s not for leg extensions or leg curls.
And when you’re a beginner you’re not allowing your knees to get stronger.
That’s important in the long run. So don’t use knee straps until much later.

#30 Not wearing the right shoes

It may seem like an insignificant thing.
I mean, shoes making a big difference? Well, it actually does.
If you are going to sprint, you get shoes that are right for sprinting.
You run cross country.
Well you get running shoes that are ideal for cross country.
Same with weightlifting.
A weight lifter has to use shoes that are right for weightlifting.
They’re made specifically so they can provide the right amount of support on certain lifts.
Weightlifting shoes will help you improve and lift heavier on squats, deadlifts, power cleans, snatches.
If you don’t have these available, well you wear some Chucks (Converse) for some support.
The right shoes will help improve your form and the weight you’re lifting.

#31 Using poor form

I get it.
Sometimes we’ll swing our body just a bit to do an extra bicep curl.
Sometimes we’ll swing our body to get one more pull up.
That’s something I won’t be too tough on.
But using poor form with each rep, set and exercise?
That makes no sense.
Sometimes it can be clear as day that someone is using poor form.
Other times it’s subtle.
Here’s my advice.
Always use strict form.
It’ll help you get better long term results.
You’ll also decrease the possibility of injury.

#32 Spending 2 hours at the gym

I’d walk into the gym at 8 p.m. ready to take on my workout.
I’d walk out tired and drained at 10:30 p.m.
I’d do this 5 days per week.
Somehow I thought this was how muscle was made. I should have known this wasn’t the right way.
Close to 2 years of this schedule and I didn’t see much progress.
These days I’m in and out of the gym in 60 minutes or less.
Ever since doing shorter workouts I’ve actually seen better results.
If you follow the bodybuilding magazines, then you’ll assume a longer workout is the way to go.
It isn’t.
Just stick with a shorter workout.
Train smart and the results will follow.

#33 Not having a plan

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Have a plan.
Have a schedule.
Know how many number of sets, reps, exercises you’re going to do.
Don’t just go in winging it.
If you think you’re going to get serious muscle by just doing chest and arms on days you feel like it, then you’re going to fall flat in your gains.
Or if you think just a couple of sets is enough for one muscle group per week.
Well, again you won’t get far. Instead, have a workout plan and stick to it.
Be consistent.
The results will follow.

#34 Forgetting to write down everything

I talked about carrying a pen and notepad in the gym.
That’s one part.
The next is writing down your schedule.
Write down the days you’ll be training.
Stick to those days.
What are you going training on those specific days.
Stick to that as well.
Write down the time you’ll have to sleep.
Write down the number of hours you slept.
Write down the number of calories you ate, the meals you ate tha day and week.
Write down the grams of protein, carbs and fats.
It’s a bit much, I know but that’s what will set  you apart from someone who looks like he’s serious about training and one who’s just getting by.

#35 Not carrying a pen and notepad 

If you choose to ignore everything else on this list that’s up to you.
But whatever you do, at least do this one thing.
Write down every training session.
Carry a notepad and pen or pencil.
Be precise.
Track everything you’re doing in your training sessions.
I have to say that this is what changed my workouts.
Before I decided to track my training sessions, I would guess how much i had to lift.
I would have to remember how much I had done on the bench or the squat or even with a tricep exercise the week prior.
I knew i was close to the right amount of weight I’d lifted the week before.
But I wasn’t entirely sure.
If i didn’t know how much I lifted the previous week, then how could i know if i was making progress.
The goal should always be to get stronger.
Either by lifting heavier weight.
Even if it’s just an increase of 5 pounds.
Or one more rep on the next set.
The only way to know if you’re getting stronger and improving is by writing things down.
Over time you’ll see how much more weight you’re lifting.
You’ll be able to make gains nearly every week.
You’ll break plateaus.
It’ll change your results in the gym.

#36 Thinking protein shakes are a miracle cure

That’s all it is.
Ads in magazines that push a ripped dude in front of a whey protein container.
Here’s the deal.
The guys you’ll see on those ads are likely on performance enhancers.
Sure, they might be taking protein but protein alone won’t do it.
Protein supplements are just that- supplements.
They supplement your diet.
Protein will help with repairing and rebuilding muscle.
But that doesn’t mean it’ll give you immense growth.
It’ll help but it won’t make you the next Mr. Universe or Mr. Olympia.
Protein shakes are not a miracle supplement.
If you want to save money just eat more protein.
That’s it.

#37 Forgetting to take creatine

If you’re serious about gaining muscle, creatine is practically a must have supplement, especially if you’re a bodybuilder.
Studies have shown that creatine is amazingly effective when it comes to muscle building (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition).
From helping with energy production, build strength and build muscle, creatine will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

#38 Not taking a multivitamin

You can have your training dialed in.
You can have your sleep and rest down perfectly.
But nutritionally, if you’re not covering the basics there’s no point in expecting gains.
It’s possible to have solid nutrition.
If you are in that category there’s no need to worry about vitamins.
But i don’t know too many people who have a solid nutrition plan.
If you’re like the majority of guys who train, then get yourself a good multivitamin.
Get a multivitamin that is meant for active, athletic guys like you.
You’ll be laying a solid foundation for your health and training.

#39 Not using a spotter

There’s only so much we can do on our own.
Of course you can train all on your own.
But the benefit of having a spotter is you’ll feel forced to push yourself harder.
Maybe you’re struggling to do more than a couple of reps for 185 pounds.
With someone spotting your lifts you’ll be pushing an extra rep or two.
Those extra reps will give you an edge.
Pushing yourself a bit more for one or two reps is where you’ll see growth.

#40 Spending too much time exercising your jaw

Gyms can be loud.
Not so much because of weights banging and getting dropped.
They’re actually loud because of all the talking that goes on.
All the chatter.
It’s cool to talk to your buddies.
Get some quick banter in between sets is always fun.
But standing there for 5, 10, 15 minutes between each exercise to talk about last week’s club venture.
So much time is lost on chatting.
If there was more of effort made in training as i often see in gym socializing… we’d see more fit people.

#41 Jumping programs too often

I always talk about the power of consistency.
There’s the power of consistency in training schedule.
Consistency in effort.
But consistency in using the same workout plan is also as important.
What’s the point in switching programs every 2 or 3 weeks.
What’s the point in training for 2 weeks with low reps then doing high reps for the next 2 weeks.
You have to stay with one method for a while.
Three months at least.
If you don’t test something out long enough there’s no way of knowing if it works or not.
If you jump from one plan to another you wont’ see any results.

#42 Trying the latest cool looking (i.e. weird looking) exercise

Remember America’s Funniest Home Videos or the classic, Max X?
I seriously feel like I’m watching something straight out of those shows every once in awhile at the gym.
Going to the gym is pretty straightforward.
You have dumbbells.
You have barbells.
There’s  machines and cables.
Maybe some plyometrics boxes and kettlebells.
Train with tried and true classic moves.
Yet, there’s always someone there who’s doing some Ringling Bros circus side show moves with the equipment.
I don’t get it. Don’t be that guy. If you are please see a professional.

#43 Not having a clear goal in mind

“The more you’re obsessed by something, the better chance you have of achieving it.”

– Frank Zane

Just like having a plan, having a goal is also important.
What’s your goal?
Do you want to build muscle?
Great. Be more specific.
Do you want to build 10 pounds of muscle in 12 months?
18 months?
Do you want to get stronger?
How much stronger?
20 pounds more in your squat or bench press?
Having a clear goal will help you get results much faster and will make it more enjoyable in the process.

#44 Always training to failure

“Stimulate, don’t annihilate.”

– Lee Haney

You’ll find articles online like, “Should You Lift Weights to Failure.”
It’s a valid question. But if you’ve training for a while and doing workouts that take your sets to failure, well you’ve seen by now that it’s pointless. It doesn’t work.
In a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology titled, Differential Effects of Strength Training Leading to Failure Versus Not to Failure on Hormonal Responses, Strength, and Muscle Power Gains, the results showed that it training to failure did not result in muscle gains.
In fact, you’ll find that better results will come from doing workouts short of failure.

#45 Training so others can like you

Vanity tends to get in the way of things.
We want to be liked.
We want others to admire us and see us as cool.
Honestly, when it comes to training, it doesn’t matter.
We all want to think that others are looking at us and and will look up to us if we get bigger.
It’s pointless.
You should be happy with your results.
Forget about being dependent on others approval.
Maybe you want to look good so a woman or man you’re interested in will think you’re hot.
But don’t let that be the motivating factor.
Do it because you want to look better so that you can be happy with your work in the gym.

#46 Assuming everyone in the gym is looking/making fun at you

I remember the first time I tried to use a barbell so I could bench press.
I almost crushed myself under the immense weight of an empty bar…
I barely cleared one rep.
I got up embarrassed and walk right out.
Looking back it was pretty silly of me.
Nobody cared.
That’s a good thing.
Nobody cares that you aren’t the smallest guy at the gym or that you’re the weakest or the newest.
I’ll tell you what catches other people’s attention.
If you do something that nearly causes you to land in the hospital.
Like fall from the treadmill at full speed.
Or if you do some Hulk type crap and bench press 500 pounds.
Other than that everyone is looked at as being equal.

#47 Stuffing your face with food

John wanted to bulk up to get in the football team in high school.

One day he tells me, “dude, I’m trying to put on some weight. I’m going to be a defensive lineman.”

As John began to lay out his new diet plan to gain weight he scared me.

“I eat every 2 hours. I eat everything. I even pack a huge bag of Snickers and M & M’s. Oh and in the middle of the night I eat burritos and beans. I wake up just to eat.”

Two weeks later John had chest pains.
He stopped eating that way.
Now I know this is a football story but I hear the same thing from guys starting out at strength training and bodybuilding.
They eat huge meals.
Eat anything and everything.
Expect to gain some mass and look amazing in a matter of weeks.
Yeah, don’t do it that way.
Slowly build up your calorie intake.
Increase your calories by 250 to 500 calories in the first month.
Then increase it another 200 calories the following month.

Sounds slow?
Well, if you start to cram 1000 calories all of a sudden all you’ll see is a belly that just won’t quit.
Why have a double chin at this stage in your life?

# 48 Debating whether to go with bodyweight exercises or weights

I know there’s a big debates on this one.
There’s people who will point out to videos like the 24 Hour Ghetto Workout or guys like the Barstarzz and say that bodyweight exercises are more than enough.
Then you’ll see other guys talk about barbells as their preference.
In fact, you could use barbells creatively.
Not just for bench pressing or squats.
That’s what it comes down to often.
Rather than having brain freeze and getting confused about what works best, simply choose what you feel will keep you interested and motivated.
That’s pretty much it.
Do you want to look like a gymnast?
Do bodyweight exercises with rings.
You want to look like a powerlifter?
Train like a powerlifter.
It’s all about what you want.
I actually prefer combining both bodyweight exercises with weights for a well rounded look.

#49 Not enjoying the outdoors

Why do we spend hours every week in the gym?
I’m guilty of it.
I’ve also noticed some pretty cool things happen when I go to the beach or anywhere outdoors and hang from a bar and do a bunch of sets of pull ups.
My body feels good.
My lungs get some oxygen.
It’s healthier.
Besides, it breaks the routine of being locked in a loud gym with fluorescent lights.
Just get out there once in awhile.
Remind yourself that there’s life beyond the gym.

#50 Not practicing a sport

I’ve been asked by some of my readers if it’s ok to play soccer or basketball or any sport when you strength train.
I always have the same answer.
If all you do is lift weights and push aside your favorite hobby it’s a shame.
Feel free to play a sport on weekends or a couple of times a week.
If you’re a beginner, intermediate or any bodybuilder it’ll actually help you.
You’ll get a better cardio workout all while being athletic.
Your body will even show the results of your athleticism.

# 51 Eccentric vs. Concentric

I’ll just let Dorian Yates tell you.

“The single biggest mistake that most beginners make is putting 100% of their effort into the positive (concentric) part of the rep, while paying no attention to the negative (eccentric) segment.”

Dorian Yates

#52 Juicing, doing T, drugs

I have a confession to make.
Back in 2015 I was considering taking steroids or going the testosterone route.
I felt like I needed to get bigger.
I wanted to show everyone that I could be a big dude.
Maybe the biggest dude in the gym.
Maybe I’d get more attention that way from women.
I’d feel unstoppable and my confidence would be massive…
Well, fortunately I didn’t go on steroids or testosterone or performance enhancing drug.
The risks were far too great to go through all that.
Besides, getting jacked wouldn’t fix any of my problems with feeling insecure.
Sure taking some performance enhancement drugs are a shortcut to bigger muscles.
It’s also a shortcut to smaller balls…
And really, do you need to be the biggest dude in the gym?
If you want to get bigger there’s many ways to go about it.
You can be a “natty” and still put on gains.


Even if you’re not a newbie and have been training for many years, there’s a chance that you’ve made one or several of these mistakes.
Don’t rob yourself of muscle gains by neglecting any of these items that are listed.
If you’re a beginner bodybuilder then you’ll save yourself many years of trial and error by simply making a few adjustments.
Did I leave any mistakes off this list?
Which beginner tips do you plan in your next workout?
Share them in the comments below.
To your fitness,
Sam-Look Like an Athlete