Men's Fitness

The One Fatal Gym Mistake That Will Sabotage Your Progress in The Gym

The mistake is so common almost everyone makes it, at least at in the beginning. Here’s how to overcome it and jump-start your progress.

What’s the mistake? It’s so obvious you’re going to shake your head in disbelief when it’s finally revealed. Which isn’t quite yet.

For now, the message is: Don’t commit the same error I did when I was younger.

Young Tyson Hits The Gym

Like so many guys, I first started training because I wanted to have big arms and lean abs so I could pick up girls on the beach (ah, teenage life!). I followed the latest workouts on and what the celebrities were doing in Men’s Fitness magazine. If they were doing a certain arms workout, then I would too.

I would push myself in the gym doing lots of reps and sets of bicep curls and crunches and didn’t focus on much else. Unfortunately, no matter what routine I followed, I didn’t get the results I wanted.

One day my friend Adrian asked if I wanted to train with him. Adrian had similar goals to me but the way he trained was very different. His training was actually getting the results that I wanted.

When we started the workout, we didn’t go straight to biceps or dumbbell flys. Instead, we did a full body workout that started with squats. Squats were a new exercise for me and I didn’t like them. They were awkward, hard to do and required a lot of effort.

Adrian pushed me through the first set and the next three sets after that. After the squats I was already drained and ready to call it a day. “Biceps now”? I asked. “Nope, barbell bench press” he replied.

For the next 45 minutes, we focused on Squats, Bench Press, Romanian Deadlifts and the Bent Over Row. Those exercises targeted every part of my body. After 45 minutes, I was toast. I felt like I had pushed myself to the limits and I felt good. I wanted to train with him again.

What Happened Next

The next time we trained, we did the same exercises but Adrian stopped me before I did my first set of squats. “You need to go heavier,” he said. “But I did this weight last week” I whined. “Exactly, you need to go heavier than that to make progress”.

This idea of increasing the weights so rapidly was new to me. I thought I had to keep the weights light and feel the burn.

Which Brings Us to To Fatal Mistake

After training with Adrian I realised I wasn’t training right or hard enough and that’s why I wasn’t seeing results.

Yes, drumroll please: the fatal mistake is not working hard enough while doing a lot of dumb stuff.

My version of hard was different from Adrian’s version of hard. High reps and feeling the burn didn’t cut it. I knew I had to step it up in the gym. I decided to train and follow Adrian’s program for the next four months and that’s when I finally started to see major changes to my body.

Diet Matters, But…

One thing I harp on about a lot is nutrition and focusing on your diet. Your results are going to be 60 – 70% coming from diet alone, which is why I focus on that first.

But what about that other 30 – 40%? That’s where the right weight training program makes all the difference.

If you’re not pushing yourself with the right amount of intensity in the gym then you’re not going to gain lean muscle and lose stubborn fat. So how do you know if you’re pushing hard enough when you’re training with weights?

Are You Training Hard Enough?

When you’re training with weights, your goal should be to increase your strength. When you increase your strength you’re going to be gaining more muscle.

Every time you come into the gym your goal should be to add reps or to add weight to the exercise you’re doing.

Weights for the big compound exercises like squats, bench press, bent over row, deadlifts etc. should be going up week by week. If you benched 135 last week, your goal this week should be to bench 140 pounds the same amount of reps.

If you can continually add weight each time you’re in the gym you will progress faster. If you can’t increase the weights, then you need to increase the repetitions.

If you could bench 135 for 6 reps last week then aim for 7 or 8 reps. Once you’ve increased the reps by 2, then you can increase the weight on the bar and reduce the number of reps back to 6. Having this type of progression (by either increasing the weight or reps you do) will put you on the fast track to muscle gain and fat loss.


How To Make Sure You’re Pushing Yourself Hard Enough

It’s one thing to increase the weight and reps on an exercise week by week. There’s also another way for you to know if you’re pushing yourself hard enough.

I like to use a scale of 10 with my clients to figure out how hard an exercise is. You should aim to always be an 8/10. That means if you stop at 8 reps of an exercise you could have done 10 reps.

If you did 10 reps of an exercise you could have done 11 or 12. This rate of effort will help you figure out if you’re pushing yourself enough or if you need to increase the weight even more. If you do 8 reps and you could have done 12, then you need to increase the weight.

You should always be leaving one or two reps left in the tank because this will help you use the same weight for the same number of reps in the next set. If you did 7 reps and your 8th rep your form was wonky and it took longer to finish the rep, that would be a 10 or 11 out of 10 and you need to reduce the weight a little bit. This is what a 9/10 looks like.

As you can see, my client James really struggles with the last two and wouldn’t have been able to do any more.

Tracking Progress Week By Week

Now that you know you need to increase the weight you’re using or the number of reps you’re doing, the next step is to keep track of those numbers.

Keep an exercise log of your routine on your phone. Use the notes app and write down of what exercise you did, how many reps you did, and how much weight you used

This way, you can see where you need to improve. You have a busy life and it can be hard to keep track of training all the time which is why I recommend the phone app.

Trying to remember how much you did for each exercise can be a pain and if you aren’t tracking you won’t make as much progress as someone who is.

Putting It All Together

Next time you step in the gym, don’t try aim to go balls to the wall straight away. Find weights that are challenging enough for that day that feel like an 8/10.

Record those weights in your notes app and how many reps you did. You now have a starting point. From then on, each time you’re in the gym your goal is to get stronger than last time. You do this by either adding more reps or more weight and making your effort feel like an 8/10.

If you follow this type of approach while combing it with your nutrition, your progress is going to skyrocket. You ’ll see results faster than you thought possible.

Share This Article

If this article blew your mind and you realised that you haven’t been training as you should be can you do me a favour? Share it with a friend who you think will also be shocked that they’re not pushing themselves as hard as they thought. Don’t let a mate miss out on his gains. Share it with them.

Tyson Brown

Author Tyson Brown

Coffee Lover, Online Coach, Superhero movie buff and Intermittent Fasting Expert. Tyson Will help you build a lean body like the almighty Thor and get rid of that stubborn belly fat for good!

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