1. Comparing Yourself to Others
You might walk into the gym on your first day and see fit, strong, ripped athletes lifting heavy weights. Some people want to be like them, and some people are intimidated by them. No matter which one describes you, it is important to remember not to compare yourself to them.
These individuals that you see have probably been training for a long time, much longer than you have. You might not be able to do as many sessions as them and recover, you might not be able to hit the weights they can, and you might not be able to hit the same goals they can. But that’s ok! You’re at the beginning of your journey, and they’re well into theirs. Trying to do what they can and compare yourself to them will most likely leave you injured and disheartened.
Compare yourself to you, and focus on improving yourself. Gradually build up your strength, volume of training, and technique base. Constantly trying to better yourself and improve your own performance will be a more rewarding and fruitful journey than trying to be like someone else.
2. Ignoring Proper Form
You need to build a strong foundation when it comes to your training, and in this context, that means learning and using the correct form for all exercises. Without a strong foundation, your fitness ‘house’ will crumble, likely leaving you injured and unable to train.
Building up proper form will take time, and will probably mean you will be lifting lighter weights and fewer reps than you may see the people around you doing. You need to understand that this process will take time, but will pay off for you in the long run. Trying to accelerate your progression before you are ready may work for a small period of time, but eventually, you will either burn out and get injured, or you will plateau. Error on the side of caution for a while. This allows you to build up volume and allows the body to get acclimated to the demands you are putting on it.
3. Unrealistic Goal Setting
Goal setting is a great way to keep yourself motivated and on track. Remember that these goals may need to be fairly small and simple, to begin with and that if you are starting with no prior training experience you need to start building from the ground up.
It is important to set realistic goals that you will be able to achieve in a timely matter. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals are best, as they are structured to be realistic and motivating. It is a good idea to have performance goals, such as to hit a 200lb back squat or run 1-mile in 8 minutes. Rather than purely aesthetic goals, such as weight loss or muscle building. There are quite a few performance goals that can be set, and these can be achieved regularly. However, if you focus purely on aesthetic goals, this can sometimes be demotivating as they can take longer to achieve. Additionally, if you pick extremely large and unrealistic goals, such as making it to the Olympics for weightlifting 3 months into your training journey, you may also find yourself demotivated and disheartened. SMART and realistic goal setting includes both aesthetic and performance goals and will motivate you throughout your fitness journey.