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Fitness and Health

Fitness and health go hand in hand, and this section of our health library is devoted to exploring the relationship between these two very important aspects of life.

The 10 Biggest Workout Mistakes

Although exercise is highly recommended and deserves no judgment, avoid making these 10 biggest workout mistakes to lower the risk of injury and maximize your results!


It is not so uncommon to get enveloped into pumping iron and living at the gym when crazing in a fitness journey. And while some trends seem to be more frequent than others, the reality is most of these are unnecessary and can even deter personal goals. Although exercise is highly recommended and deserves no judgment, avoid making these 10 biggest workout mistakes to lower the risk of injury and maximize your results!

The 10 Biggest Workout Mistakes

1. Looking to the Wrong Advice
With so much idealized fitness information trending social media feeds, it is easy to get caught up in the wrong advice. And while not all tips are inaccurate, it is always important to determine the credentials and experience of the individual promoting and providing workout guidelines and tips. Doing so not only ensures the workout lends successful results, but is safe to implement. Meeting with a personal trainer can help you get carefully started, while it is also a good idea to consult with your doctor before beginning any sort of workout regimen. Their guidance and expertise can help tailor recommendations to fit personal needs, especially if living with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

2. Overlooking Warmups and Cool Downs
It is all too common: People rush to the gym, blow off a warmup, tackle a workout, dismiss the cool down, then wonder why they are so sore or have injuries. Warming up and cooling down is a must for every workout and should never be overlooked or rushed through, as the practice can prevent against soreness and injury of muscles. Warmup with a light jog, bike ride, jumping jacks, or any other preferred exercise to elevate heart rate for at least five minutes. It is likewise essential to reduce an elevated heart rate with a light walk and stretch muscles while they are "warm," holding each stretch and breathing deeply stretches for 10 to 30 seconds.

3. Going All in Too Quickly
While you may be excited and anxious to jump right into a new workout, it is important to ease into your exercise regimen to lower the risk of injury. Especially if a beginner, start with 10 to 15 minutes of light activity and gradually work up to 30 minutes each day, along with increasing the intensity and volume of your workouts.

4. Targeting Only One or A Couple Muscle Groups
Particularly if self-conscious about specific areas of the body, you may be finding yourself overworking one or a couple muscle groups. However, all muscle groups should be targeted, including the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and back, to balance and optimize strength, coordination, and overall muscle mass.

5. Not Allowing Rest
No, resting does not mean resting on your health goals! Muscle groups should have at least a day or two of recovery to prevent injury and maximize muscle growth and restoration. Always listen to your body and if you are feeling incredibly sore, allow it time to rest and recover.

6. Relying Solely On Cardio
Cardio is often the exercise of choice when trying to lose weight. And while it has shown to be the fastest way to shed off pounds, weight and strength training should not go unnoticed. Building muscle supports lean body mass which contributes to a faster metabolism, in turn resulting to sustainable weight loss. Health experts encourage at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, along with the incorporation of strength training at least twice a week.

7. Placing Quantity Over Quality
There is an often misconception you have to lift heavy weights and crank out numerous reps to gain results. However, muscle strains and injuries often occur when rushing and jerking through a set of exercises too quickly. Lifting too heavy and too many reps can likewise be a workout mistake, as fitness experts suggest lifting lighter weight with correct form is much more efficient in gaining desired results. Nonetheless, the emphasis is quality over quantity; always pay attention to the quality of the form and technique, not the quantity of the weight, reps, or sets.

8. Sticking to A Singular Regimen
If someone feels as if certain exercise is giving them all their glory, they likely stick to their guns and do the same routine over and over again. While you want to have some repetition in your workout, repeating the same activities constantly can stall progress and is a fitness mistake you can easily avoid. Shake up your regimen by including different movements, along with varying intensities and weights used in your workout.

9. Neglecting Good Nutrition
Whether trying to lose weight or gaining muscle, there are two likely scenarios occur related to nutrition. One: Many people believe exercise is a free pass to eat whatever you want, but the bottom line is you cannot out-exercise a bad diet - if you eat a 1,000 calorie cheeseburger, it is going to take at least an hour to burn off those extra calories. And two: Individuals trying to gain muscle may be undereating in worries of gaining body fat, though the body needs extra fuel to feed and ensure efficient muscle growth. A Registered Dietitian can help determine nutritional needs and requirements based on individualized goals.

10. Trusting Too Much On Supplements
Supplements are often looked to as the ultimate elixir to reach health goals. And while they can and do have their time and offer some benefit, they supplement a healthy diet and should not displace whole foods that are rich in nutrients that allow the body to carryout physiological processes, including for weight loss and muscle growth.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on June 05, 2018.


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