The 3 most common workout mistakes. 


We all make them, in every area of our lives. Some of us probably make more mistakes in one particular area than another, but the truth is we all f*%k up along the way. 

Some mistakes are easily recovered from (stepping in dog crap), others not so much (driving under the influence, getting locked up and having a large Nigerian nicknamed “The Hammer” as your cell mate)..

Working out is no different, we make mistakes, we f*%k up from time to time. 

Luckily the consequences of these mistakes are a little less life-altering and traumatic than a weekend spent with “The Hammer”. They’re also easily fixed once you know what they are.

Workout Mistake #1:

Training with the intensity of Barney the Dinosaur.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is really just not working hard enough at the gym. They stick with what feels comfortable, they stay in their comfort zones.

The truth is, unless you are specifically training for an endurance type event, your workout should NEVER last more than an hour. It’s just not possible to maintain a decent level of intensity for more than an hour, even an hour can be a little long sometimes. Intensity is about doing more work in less time. That’s what forces your body to change.

Next time you’re at the gym take a look at the other people. 

Notice the super-happy, friendly guy who talks to everybody between sets and the woman reading the latest copy of People magazine while she cycles.

Compare them with the guys and girls with the death-stares, working and sweating their butts off, doing weird exercises, focused and not distracted by anything around them. 

Who’s in better shape? Who looks like they’re reaping the benefits of their training? I’m pretty sure you’d say it’s the latter group…

The fact of the matter is that your body will not change unless you SUFFICIENTLY CHALLENGE IT, and one of the main reasons people never get in shape is that they really are just not willing to put in the work, to sweat it out, to take the pain. Everything worth achieving comes at a cost, and in this case you pay for it in sweat.

I’m sorry to bust your bubble, but there really is no silver-bullet or magic pill that will do the work for you. 

You have a job to do when you’re working out, and that is to challenge your body. You are not there to socialize, you are not there to read and muck about – you are there to be bad ass! 

Get in, work hard, get out. 

So the next time you head to the gym, ask yourself if you really think you’re working hard enough.

No matter what your level, ask yourself – is it not possible to push yourself just a little harder, to do just 1 more rep, 1 more burpee, 1 minute more than you did last week? 

Workout Mistake #2:

Doing the same thing all the time, doing the same kind of workouts day in and day out.

So many of us are guilty of slipping into comfort zones and getting stuck in a rut, in life, and in the gym.

Once your body adapts to a certain kind of workout, it stops responding. Even if you are continually trying to make that workout more intense each week, eventually you just reach a point where you can’t anymore, and your body won’t respond the way it did when you first started the workout.

So mix it up and change things around often. Substitute in different exercises, adjust the tempo, trying doing sprints instead of jogging, change up the intervals in your interval training, shorten rest times, change training frequency and volume etc.

By adding things in and mixing it up all the time, you keep your body guessing, never really knowing what’s coming or what to expect. It responds best under these conditions.

Adaptation is a response to stress (in this case exercise) – all living organisms will attempt to adapt to a stress to aid their survival. 

If your body is not stressed and thrown out-of-whack all the time, what need does it have to adapt?

How often should you change things up?

  • If you’re a beginner (anyone who has been training REGULARLY for less than 6 months), you should change up some aspects of your program every 4 weeks.  

  • If you’re an intermediate trainer, (anyone who has been working out REGULARLY for the last 6-12 months) change things up every 3 weeks.  

  • If you’re an advanced trainer (anyone who has been training REGULARLY for more than a year), mix it up every 2 weeks.  

Bear in mind though, that when you mix things up or modify your program – you need to do it in such a manner that your program is still in line with your fitness goals. 

If your goal is to build muscle and strength, you need to keep your program within the confines of those goals, you’re hardly going to adopt a marathon runner’s or triathlete’s training program now are you?

The same can be said for people training for endurance, fat-loss, toning etc – switch things up, but stay within the confines of your goal. Don’t adopt a completely different training methodology – training still needs to be specific to your goals.

So next time, before you head to gym, think of what you’re going to be doing – if it’s the same as you’ve been doing for the last few weeks, and not much has changed, you’d better CHANGE IT UP!

Remember what Emerson said: “Break the monotony. Do something strange and extravagant!”  

Workout Mistake #3:

Just showing up at the gym without a plan.

It’s easy to have a plan, but to correctly design a program that will be effective – that’s a little more difficult, it requires a little more knowledge.

I’d love to just prescribe a generic program for all of you to follow, but the truth is there is no one-size-fits all program. 

People have different training goals and objectives. Some of you are trying to get buff and build muscle, others are hoping just to look good, be healthy and fit. 

These goals require different approaches, but what they do have in common, is that they both need a well-structured, written-out plan to follow. 

Before people embark on a new business venture they write up a business plan, before you build a house you need plans drawn up. 

So why is it that with working out, so many people approach it without a plan?

Most people show up at the gym and just kinda wing it, deciding in the moment what they’ll do that day.

That’s a sure-fire way to waste your time and have your efforts end up being fruitless.


You could either draw up your own workout plan if you have the know-how, or you could use one you find online or from a magazine or book. 

Sure, some of them are crap, but following a less-than-perfect plan is still better than following no plan at all.

So with that said, here are some guidelines to help you sift the crappy plans from the good ones.

Guidelines for choosing a good workout plan:

1. It must be consistent with your goals. 

If you’re an aspiring runner, follow a running plan. If you’re an aspiring bodybuilder follow a bodybuilding plan etc etc. 

I know it sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people try to do it all. They want to run marathons and look like Arnold at the same time.

Adaptation is specific, you cannot be a great distance runner and be buff, you must choose what is more important to you, you cannot be both.

Yes, a good, well-balanced program should contain elements of both, but remember what you are trying to achieve.

If you want to be built like a sprinter then you need to train like one. If you want the body of a Crossfit poster girl, then you’d better be training like one. 

Use your end-goal to help you choose your program and type of training.

2. It must have a deadline or specific goal at the end.  

A program SHOULD NOT just say do 3 sets of X, for Y reps 3 times per week, or anything along those lines – that will lead you to end up making mistake #2, doing the same thing all the time.

No, a good program will be structured over 12 or 16 weeks depending on its objectives. The training in all the preceding weeks should lead up to something specific at the end – either being able to run your first marathon, or have a six-pack or something like that. 

A program structured in that way will be far more successful than something which is just a general recommendation of what you should do each week until the end of eternity.

3. It must show progression, increased overload or advancement each week.

Similar to what I said in point #2, a program that has no end point or end goal, is not likely to have much progression build into it. A good program will have you being challenged more and more each week as you work towards your goal.

Another crucial factor related to this, is that a program with a purpose and goal, allowing you to measure your improvement each week, will keep you far more motivated than the blind recommendation of do X, Y, Z for so many reps, so many times a week, indefinitely. 

To me that’s boredom pretty well defined.

4. It must have sufficient time for rest and recovery built into it.

Whilst progression, overload and advancement are crucial to a successful program, a program that attempts to do this too fast, or does not allow enough time for adaptation/recovery will cause you to burn out quickly.

Any program that has you training the same body parts on consecutive days or more than 3 times per week or has you training a total of more than 5 days per week is going to lead to overtraining and burnout.

The main thing is HAVE A PLAN, do not just show up at the gym next time and think you’re gonna ‘wing it’.

If you think your friends and family might be making some of these mistakes, please share this article with them..