In my first three years of weight lifting, I made some very MASSIVE progress. To the point that by 21, as a rookie personal trainer, other trainers would come up and wanna take my advice on how to train their clients or themselves! On a daily basis coaches would come up and beg me to start competing as “my body is just shaped perfectly for it”.

As quickly as I made some gains, I also made some massive mistakes. As a rookie body builder, my nutrition knowledge was inadequate… I did way too much cardio…. I paid too much attention to the scale and not my body. I’ve made a list of 9 common mistakes that I made when I first began my journey in the gym and how to avoid them!

  1. Not training your upper body/ legs/ [insert body part]: Many ladies make the mistake of skipping out on upper body workouts or going easy on their shoulders or lifting too light. Many guys make the same mistake instead with their lower body. Whether you are looking for aesthetics, fat loss or better performance, it’s important to train your entire body. Your muscles move in conjunction together (contrary to common belief there is really no such thing as isolating a muscle). This means if you are looking for strengthening your bench, you have to train shoulders, triceps, back, chest, and core individually. Last but not least, aesthetically it looks much better when your body is proportionate aka the size of your legs is proportionate to your size of your arms.
  2. Not taking nutrition seriously: This is a BIG one. Most people first start exercising and think it’s “good enough”. I certainly made this mistake! You think well, if I work out then I can afford to eat what I want, when I want it. This is just not how the body works! If you are looking for a slimmer waist, thicker legs, better aerobic capacity… whatever your goal, your nutrition has to match it! Your body can only change so much without adequate fuel and a proper nutrition plan! Not sure what you should be eating? Drop me a line and let one of my nutritionists help you out!
  3. Not listening to your body: Another mistake I made was not listening to my body. I would lift heavy, lift often and do lots of cardio without much recovery. It’s critical to tune into your body and listen to what it’s saying! If you are having a hard time recovering and are sick all the time, that is a good sign that your are overtraining. If you have achey joints, you may wanna lay off the plyometrics…. Listen to your body and let it heal and recover. Pounding the weights day after day is not very smart in the long term (that how overuse injuries and joint problems usually occur)
  4. Thinking you can spot reduce: There is still a myth out there that if you train lets say abs, your stomach will shrink… if you train legs, your thighs will naturally get lean. Not true! There is no such thing as spot reduction! Be careful not to confuse a targeted body split routine with spot reduction. Body split (aka doing lower body one day, upper body next, abs and arms etc) is fantastic for aesthetics (eg. Building nice round shoulders or glutes) but not good for “spot reduction”. [prompt type=”left” title=”30 Minute in-home GLUTES and ABS!” message=”Looking for in-home workouts? Get my 30 minute GLUTES and ABS workout for FREE! ” button_text=”Yes, let me see it! ” button_icon=”hand-o-right” circle=”true” href=”″ target=”blank”]
  5. Staring at the scale… like every day: I’ve never been a big fan of the scale but have many clients who are OBSESSED with it. Be aware that you CAN lose inches and body fat without a huge difference on the scale. In my opinion a better body composition is always a better goal to have so ditch the scale and stop obsessing over the wrong numbers!
  6. Thinking you know it all: Olympic athletes, professional football players, even the best trainers out there have other coaches and trainers that they rely on. Exercise science is well, a science! Stop trying to guess how many reps, sets you should do, stop picking up random exercises from the internet from trainers with horrible form. Go and book a few sessions with a reputable trainer…. join some fitness classes. Learn from those who not only have good physiques but are motivational and good coaches. To this day, I make it a habit to take continuing education course and to train with other trainers who I know can further my education.
  7. Not taking advantage of supplements: Truth be told, the best gains you will make is in the first three years of your training aka your golden era! So take advantage of it! Eat well, and supplement with the right supplements like BCAAs, protein and multivitamins to make the best of your golden era! I am not suggesting that you take every supplement out there but there is a few staples that will help you build lean tissue and keep lean. Invest in those!
  8. Not training hard enough: Back in the day when I first began weight training, there was no suspension training, calesthetics or much specialized equipment. Most people sat on a machine pushed for a few reps then moved to the next and did the same…. keeping heart rate low and barely challenging themselves. We know now that there are much more effective ways of training like circuit training, HITTs, functional training… power lifting. Make sure to keep your training CHALLENGING! Play around with tempo, rest time, super sets, weights, reps, sets… critical thing is to really exhaust your body! Not sure how to do that? Then take advantage of fitness classes like my Hourglass Workout classes or hire a trainer!
  9. Doing too much cardio: Yup, too much cardio can HURT instead of help. The right type of aerobic exercise (like HITTs) can be super useful but there is even limits to that! Don’t spend the majority of your time running on a treadmill or on the elliptical. Do a dynamic warm up and hit the weights for a good hour! If you are doing high intensity circuits you may not even need any added cardio! I personally recommend only 20 minutes of cardio 3 to 5 days a week for clients… then work them up to 40 minutes if necessary. If you are training hard, fast, at your maximum capacity chance are you do not need to cardio… in fact it can back fire as it strips your lean tissue![prompt type=”left” title=”30 Minute in-home GLUTES and ABS!” message=”Looking for in-home workouts? Get my 30 minute GLUTES and ABS workout for FREE! ” button_text=”Yes, let me see it! ” button_icon=”hand-o-right” circle=”true” href=”″ target=”blank”]

I truly hope these 9 mistakes that I made when I first began weight lifting will help you make better decisions in and out of the gym. Remember fitness is a journey not a over night thing, so keep working at it! Work at it often and you will succeed!