Going to the gym is difficult to do badly. Whatever reason you have for going, it has a world of benefits to offer you, and all of them have a huge impact on your life. It's generally just a great thing to do for yourself. Like everything in life, though, there are some things that you should still avoid when you go. That's when you need to look out for common gym mistakes.

It's easy to do something new and get it wrong or even just get stuck in your bad habits. Getting out of them is one of the best things that you can do, and the first step to doing that is to know what the biggest mistakes you can make in the gym are, and the best ways to stop them.


We’ve put together a list of 7 of the most common gym mistakes that you find so that you don’t make them yourself. Make sure you take note and head our warning to maximise your progress and minimise injury.

Lifting too heavy


Person lifting weights in the gym


First up is lifting too heavy. Just about everyone that has ever been to the gym is guilty of it. Whether you're trying to look good, you don't know your own strength or your technique is off; it's something that's just too easy to do. Despite that, lifting too heavy is still one of the biggest gym mistakes you can make.

It’s one of the easiest ways for you to develop an injury, both short and long term, and it will stifle your progress too. We know it sounds hard to believe since more weight is usually more progress in most people’s minds, but it’s just not the case. Like we said in our advice for people new to weight lifting, form is ALWAYS better than weight.

Misusing Equipment


Perosn with knee injury after gym mistake


Another hugely common gym mistake to make is misusing equipment. We’ve said it before and we'll say it again. Misusing equipment is just straight-up dangerous. You can do serious damage, either from an actual incident with the equipment directly, or it injuring you as a result of how it’s supposed to move.

Some of the most common ways you’ll see this is with things like locking knees on a leg press, pushing with your legs on lower back machines, and even using cables in 'inventive' ways. You'd be surprised.

Using dangerous exercises


Person making deadlift mistake


As well as different machines causing trouble in gyms, choosing the wrong exercises to do or doing notorious exercises wrongly can have a hugely detrimental impact on you too. There are some exercises out there where you really need to know your stuff to try them, and they can all do serious damage if you don’t.

Some simple exercises like deadlifts have the potential to do real damage if you bend your back, for example, despite it being one of the best exercises there are. On top of that, you have other more general exercises too like dips and upright rows, where it's just too easy to overextend and injure your shoulders when you think you're getting a better contraction. It's all easily done, and it’s all dangerous.

Mirror training


person taking selfie in the gym mirror


This one is more of a long term issue that people seem to have in the gym without even realising the mistake. It does make sense, too, when you think about it in the long term. Mirror training.

Mirror training is when you exercise the muscles you personally can see in the mirror for the sole purpose of looking bigger. The common examples are just training chest, arms and abs rather than back and legs too. This is what people think looks the best, but actually just leads to serious training imbalances and often dangerous overtraining too. Train everywhere if you’re going to do it!



person using dumbbell workout


Another logical place to look after mirror training is overtraining in general. Overtraining is one of the easiest ways to halt and even reverse your progress, and that’s if you don’t injure yourself before that even happens. It really is just one of the worst things that you can do, and the impacts can even be mental.

Your body needs time to rest after you exercise and recover from the stress you’ve put on it. That’s when all of the changes you’re trying to make happen anyway. Training every day just means more wear and tear and no recovery. It will result in an injury, and it's seriously bad news.

Don’t rep too fast


Person straining with weights in the gym


The final gym mistake we’ll look at is from repping too fast, since it’s another one that just seems natural to do. It’s not quite as bad a lot of the other exercises on the list, but if it gets the better of you, you’re still going to be in a lot of trouble.

Repping too fats feels like the exercise is easier and you can do more before you get tired. That's a given. The reason though is you lose form, reduce the time under tension, and build momentum. All of those are dangerous, and you're way more likely to hurt yourself than you were before. Take it slow or drop the weight. Either way, slow it down.


All of these are easy mistakes to make in the gym, and a lot of them are even easier to do if you’re working out at home too. Always remember that form is everything, take your time, and do your homework. These are the more serious mistakes you can make, but don’t forget to check out our gym fails article too for some simpler but still risky moves to make in the gym. Knowledge is power, right?



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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.