10 Biggest Workout Mistakes Made by Men

Common Fitness Blunders Kill Your Gym Gains

man working out at gym

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Guys, are you ready to lean out and make gym gains? You've probably already figured out that it takes more than occasionally showing up in the weight room if you want to really change your body. To learn how to make gains that last you need to develop—and stick to—a plan for serious fat loss and muscle development.

As part of the Complete Men's Guide to Weight Loss, a panel of exercise and nutrition experts shared their tips on common workout mistakes that guys often make. According to the gym pros, these are the blunders that are most likely to stop you from seeing gains at the gym and on the scale

10 Mistakes to Change (Right Now) to Boost Your Gym Gains

It doesn't matter if you are a gym newbie or a seasoned pro, anyone can fall victim to workout mistakes that can make getting gains harder. The goal is to lose fat and gain muscle, right? See if any of these blunders look familiar. Then use the pro tips to get back on track.

1. Doing Too Much Too Soon

One of the most common weight loss challenges that men face is the pressure to be tough. “Men are macho, so they might push too hard, go too heavy or do too much too fast and then burn out or get injured,” says fat loss expert Tom Venuto. Venuto is the bestselling author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. He holds a degree in exercise science and has worked in the fitness industry since 1989, including fourteen years as a personal trainer. He recommends consistency and steady improvement for long-term results. Getting injured often? It's time to back off. Scale down and find a regular plan that you can stick to for real results.

2. Listening to the Wrong Advice

World-class trainer Jason Corrie recommends that guys who want real results should work with a credentialed professional. Corrie has been training at a senior level for over nine years at some of London and New York City’s most prestigious gyms. In 2011 he was selected by Virgin Active in London to join the highest elite level category of “World Class Personal Trainer." He says that men often listen to the wrong advice—from friends or colleagues—and don’t get the results they want. Sure, it's fun to swap tips with the other guys at the gym ... and it can help build camaraderie. But you're likely to see results faster if you get results from someone who has spent a career in the field.

3. Relying on Cardio

Many guys who want to lose fat turn to fat-burning cardio, like treadmill sprints or steady-state cycling to lose weight. But if that means neglecting the weight room then they’re making a mistake. “Building muscle turns you into a fat-burning machine,” says Jason. Expert Tony Schober agrees. Schober is a certified personal trainer and the founder of Coach Calorie. He sees men doing too much cardio too soon. “Save the cardio for when you need it. If you start off with four to five cardio sessions in the beginning, you won't have room to add in more cardio once your weight loss stalls.”

4. Lifting Too Much Weight

Weight training is good but too much can be a mistake, as well. New York City trainer Matt Griffin frequently sees guys at his gym lifting too much weight. Griffin is also a parkour and fitness instructor at Barry's Bootcamp in Manhattan. While it's impressive to grab the heaviest dumbbell on the rack, he says it’s a myth that heavier is better. “Lighter weight with correct form will be much more effective in gaining the results desired.” Proper form and weights will also help prevent injury.

5. Skipping the Functional Assessment

A good trainer will perform a functional assessment and then provide a program of functional training exercises. This allows you to identify any areas of weakness or limitations in your range of motion that can affect your performance at the gym and prevent you from losing fat and gaining muscle efficiently. The functional assessment is especially important if you're currently competing or plan to compete in sporting events.

6. Not­ Doing Compound Exercises

Do you train only one muscle group at a time? Don’t, says Jason. He recommends compound strength exercises that require muscle groups to work together to build strength. Compound exercises are more efficient and train the body more effectively. Compound exercises require greater coordination and stability, but the extra time it takes to perfect them is worth the effort. “Basics like the bench press, squats, deadlifts, and rows should be staples in your workout program,” says Tony.

7. Neglecting Nutrition 

How often do you grab a burger and a beer after a tough workout. Or do you order a high sugar, high protein smoothie at the juice bar? “So many people figure that doing a high volume of training is all it takes to lose weight,” says Venuto. He says that training and nutrition go hand in hand. It takes both elements to lose weight successfully and get a fit lean body. If you think about it, it's easier to consume 500 calorie than to burn 500 calorie. If you're serious about making gains at the gym, invest in a session with an R.D. who specializes in sports nutrition.

8. Relying Too Heavily on Supplements

Protein powders and other products are popular but they aren’t necessarily the fastest path to fat loss and muscle gain. “Powders have their place, but if you’re trying to get lean I like to see people eating as much solid food as possible. Not only are whole foods more nutrient-dense, but they fill you up better, which is so important in a hypo-caloric environment,” says Tony. Hollywood stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton agrees. One of his diet tips for men is to eat real food instead of supplements or powders.

9. Too Much Steady State Cardio

Moderate aerobic activity is good for heart health, but guys who want to lose fat should work at various intensity levels, including high-intensity intervals. This may include sprint intervals on the treadmill, a jump rope session, indoor cycling at high speeds, or simple jumping jacks. Jason says that guys often spend too much time in the “heart rate zones” on their cardio equipment.

10. Emphasizing Quantity Over Quality

Just putting in a certain amount of time at the gym will not guarantee fat loss and muscle gain results. The time you spend exercising must be quality time. "What guarantees gym gains is using your time efficiently and that means three things," says Tom Venuto, "training smart (a well-designed program), training hard, which we could call intensity, and training progressively, where you push out of your comfort zone.”

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