The rookie error is something that everyone makes throughout their life when they try something new. It is something that people can do even if they are experienced in a certain field. The rookie error can strike anyone at any time in any activity, and it is especially prevalent in the world of strength, fitness, and health.
Today I want to focus on some common rookie errors that occur in strength and fitness training. Please note that I am not referring to rookie gym errors, such as not wiping off equipment after use or curling in the squat rack, but rather to rookie errors that can slow your progress to a standstill or can even cause significant injury.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I will almost certainly write a follow up article with more rookie errors. So, here are 5 common rookie errors in fitness:
1. Making Drastic Changes
Deciding to improve your strength, health, fitness, or anything along those lines is an excellent choice, as your body is your most important asset. However, you cannot change it overnight. The decision to start hitting the gym or begin running can be incredibly motivating, making you want to rip in and go 100% at it from day 1.
If you try to do this, you will fail. You cannot go from being a couch potato to hitting the gym for 90 minutes 6 times every week. You need to ease into new activities, regardless of your experience level. If you do not exercise at all, you should aim for 1 – 3 sessions of 30-60 minutes every week, and slowly build your way up. This prevents you from ‘burning out’ by overdoing it and losing all motivation. You need to give your body time to adjust to new activities and movements, so don’t just straight into a workout program that would make an elite athlete blush.
Take your time getting there. Enjoy the process and you will grow to love the hard work, and your body will thank you for the time you spent developing its movement patterns, strength, and endurance.
2. Spending All Your Money
Many people new to fitness see all the ads and all the lean, sexy people spruiking certain products and then they decide, ‘Hey, if I use those products I will look like that too!’. That isn’t true. When it comes to supplements, you don’t need them. Be it protein, creatine, or the latest twenty-syllable word, it will not help you get lean, strong, or fit. There are very few supplements that have scientifically-validated effects on the human body, and even these are only really useful for certain elite athletes, and even then they are only useful when used and programmed in a very specific manner or protocol that is unknown to the vast majority of people. So don’t spend $400 of your hard-earned money on supplements. Simply eat whole foods, reduce excess sugar intake, and drink plenty of water. If you really want to go the extra mile, book a consult with a dietician or qualified nutritionist. It will cost considerably less and you will get much more value and greater benefits for your money.
You generally do not need to spend much money to improve your fitness. While there are certain things that do help, it is entirely possible to overhaul your body and lifestyle with a good pair of runners, a local park, and a good attitude. You do not need to spend $4,000 kitting out your garage with a home gym. If you really want to do so, you can do it way down the track, not when you are just beginning your fitness journey.
3. Isolating Muscles
This is often due to listening to your friends or your cousin’s boyfriend who looks kind of big. Just because someone is muscular, does not mean they know what they are doing. There are many bodybuilders who decide they will also be a personal trainer, and these trainers tend to cause significant problems for their clients because they train every single one of their clients as though they are bodybuilders.
If you are new to training then you SHOULD NOT be isolating your muscles. Doing bicep curls is useless for anyone except bodybuilders. By performing compound exercises, which are exercises that use more than one joint and lots of muscle, you will get far greater metabolic response (more energy burned), muscle mass gain, and many other health benefits. Do not waste your time on machines! Do not isolate your muscles!
Form and technique are the most important part of any exercise, and rushing things are not going to bring proper form and technique. Poor technique WILL cause injury, whether it is in the long run or immediately. Just because you see someone who looks good performing an exercise a certain way, does not mean that this is the correct way to perform the exercise. Rushing through an exercise and using momentum to move a resistance (weight) is unsafe and also reinforces poor motor pathways, which is essentially how your central nervous system communicates with your muscles and tells you to move. It is far better to take things slow and controlled to begin with, and get an experienced strength & conditioning coach to coach you through any technical or complex movements that require speed.
5. Neglecting Preparation
This applies to all sorts or preparation, not just a warm up. Many newcomers are so excited to rip into their workouts that they jump straight into it at 100% intensity and neglect to prepare properly. A good warm up is not just something your school teachers made you do in PE to waste time, it is necessary to help prevent injury, and it will also help improve your performance during your workout through increase blood flow and by loosening and preparing your muscles to perform physical activity.
Other parts of preparation should not be neglected either, such as wearing the right clothes, having a water bottle, and getting enough sleep the night before your workout. All the little things that go into your health and fitness add up to form something great, so do not neglect the little things.
So there you have it, 5 common rookie errors when it comes to health and fitness. There are many others out there, and I’d love to hear of any rookie errors that you see on a regular basis. Now get out there and dominate!