7 Strength Training Mistakes for Beginners to Avoid.

Beginners: Avoid these 7 common strength training mistakes at the gym!

It’s early January, and the gym is filled with new members trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. I admire their motivation and I’m impressed by their commitment to create a healthier life.

But if you’re new to lifting, you’re bound to make a few missteps. To help keep you on track, here are 7 common strength training mistakes - and how to avoid them:

  1. Don’t try to impress anyone. This morning, I was doing barbell bicep curls next to a newbie. He was curling with 10-pound plates on either side of the barbell - and he was holding his own. I loaded my barbell with 110 lbs of plates; the newbie added another 25-pounds to each side. His form collapsed and it looked like he was going to hurt himself. A competitive spirit is great - but we all started somewhere. Check your ego at the gym door; when it comes to working out, you have to do you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. Not sure how a machine works? Have a question about an exercise that someone is performing? Don’t be afraid to ask. Regular gym-goers are usually very passionate about fitness - and they’ll be happy to help you out and demonstrate.
  3. Don’t believe everything you hear. On a related note, many well-intentioned gym-goers will also be happy to pontificate workout and fitness advice that isn’t necessarily true. Unless you’re working with a certified personal trainer, don’t believe everything you hear. If you have doubts about something you heard, go home and do research. There are many scientifically valid studies on most aspects of exercise.
  4. Don’t expect overnight results. While you may notice some changes within a month or two, know that it takes time, energy, effort and dedication to totally transform your body and achieve your goals. If you expect quick results, you’re setting yourself up for frustration; be in it for the long haul.
  5. Don’t wing it. Walking into a weight room without a plan isn’t a good idea. If you’re new to exercise, it’s worth hiring a personal trainer - even if it’s just for 3 sessions - to help you put together a routine that targets your goals. He’ll help you determine exactly which exercises will work best for you and even ensure that you’re maintaining proper form and good technique. Or, you can always start with my Ultimate Guide to Working Out to create a comprehensive plan.
  6. Don’t be that guy. Yes, you’re new to the gym - but it’s no excuse for poor gym etiquette. For example, don’t pass in between an exerciser and the mirror. Wipe down equipment after use - and don’t rest on it in between sets. Talking on a cell phone while working out is usually prohibited and always rude. Putting your weights back after each use is a must. And, for the love of God, please don’t spit in the drinking fountain. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your gym’s rules and guidelines.
  7. Don’t forget about weight collars. Using free weights is very effective - but it can also be very dangerous. When first starting out, and getting accustomed to bench pressing and lifting, it’s not uncommon for beginners to lift the barbell unevenly. If the weights aren’t secured with a weight collar or clamp, a dangerous accident can result. Using weight collars is important for everyone - but especially for newbies.

Those are the top 7 strength training mistakes that I see at the gym - but the list is far from comprehensive. Anything that I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. If you decide to workout with a group, or you make a group of friends at the gym, don’t congregate and gossip around a piece of equipment. It can be very intimidating to try to break through a bunch of people standing around an area. If you’re part of a gym group, take it to the sidelines when you’re not doing anything except talking.

  2. Davey, in terms of etiquette, I think it’s important that trainers and other gym employees know the rules too.

    I witnessed this at my gym this morning:

    - Trainer sets up equipment for someone he is training and then leaves (for at least 5 minutes, if not more)
    - Gym rat notices that no one is/had been using said equipment and starts to work out
    - Trainer then comes back to the equipment and demands to use it
    - Gym rat explains that he just started and he’d be happy for them to work in but pointed out that they were both using the equipment for different exercises and would require a lot of changes
    - Trainer argues with (i.e. yells at) Gym rat demanding him to leave the area
    - Gym rat holds his ground and Trainer finally finds another workout to do with his client.

    Just because you are a Trainer, it doesn’t mean you have free reign of the gym. If my gym (or any gym for that matter) believes they do they should rope off a portion of the floor and mark it with signs that say it’s for personal training only.

  3. do you really see people spitting in the drinking fountain?

  4. Thanks for the tips! I started working out this week and I’ve never really kept up a routine for very long.
    I broke a few rules on your list today, but now that I know, I’ll start following them…
    I’ve lost 10lbs since starting your weightless program and I feel better than when I was in high school!
    Thanks again!

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