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7 Gym Mistakes That Keep You From Getting Your Best Body

Break free of these common mistakes, and watch your progress skyrocket.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you're hitting the gym with monklike discipline but still feel like you're making no progress, don't fret—you're not alone. According to a 2022 study, hitting a ceiling in your training is known as the "plateau effect" and is common among athletes and average folks alike. Fortunately, we're here to help you bust through your plateau and level up your fitness. We chatted with Nadia Murdock, CPT, a cognitive behavioral therapist and certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews, who reveals seven common mistakes that are likely sabotaging your hard-earned gains. Look, we get it. The gym is often a bustling place where you can fall into bad fitness habits without even realizing it. But the first step to breaking through plateaus is recognizing them. So the sooner you can identify these common mistakes at the gym that kill your progress, the sooner you can resurrect your stagnant routine and get back on track.

Workout plateaus happen for various reasons. For instance, you may be sticking to the same old routine and not adding variety, you might not exercise on a consistent basis, or you may be losing patience because you're not seeing any changes. Regardless of the culprits causing your plateau, we've got your back. Read on for seven mistakes at the gym that kill your progress. Then, don't forget to check out these 10 Best Superfoods To Boost Your Energy & Maximize Your Workouts.

You're overthinking your workouts.

planning workouts in planner

With so much fitness advice out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed. But stressing over the perfect routine can kill your progress. Instead, focus on consistency and finding exercises that align with your goals and preferences.

"Overthinking can prevent actual action, so you may end up not working out or not working out enough to see the results you're striving for," says Murdock. "To avoid being overwhelmed, create a plan with small incremental steps you can layer and build upon over time."

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You're doing exercises you don't enjoy.

woman performing overhead barbell press, strength-building exercises

Forcing yourself to do workouts you dislike can zap motivation and make working out totally unenjoyable. Have fun by exploring different activities until you find ones that spark joy. Whether it's dancing, hiking, or trying out a new sport, exercising should be fun and fulfilling.

"Not everyone enjoys exercise, but we all know it's necessary to remain healthy and get the results inside out. The key to remaining consistent in the gym is finding something you enjoy and not doing something you 'should' be doing," says Murdock.

You're working out fasted.

clock on plate with fork and knife, intermittent fasting concept

While some swear by fasted exercise, it may only be ideal for a handful of individuals. Fueling your body with a light snack before hitting the gym can boost performance and help you get the most out of your sweat sessions. A study published in Nutrients found that consuming healthy carbs before exercise can boost performance.

"Not only will your attitude be disrupted due to hunger, but you'll also cause your body to dig into your energy reserves. When this happens, you can't perform optimally and might not be able to complete a workout," cautions Murdock.

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You're not prioritizing recovery.

fitness woman on exercise bike exhausted

Neglecting rest can lead to burnout and fatigue. Embrace rest days, quality sleep, and stretching to allow your body to repair and grow stronger.

"Not recovering appropriately can lead to Overtraining Syndrome," states Murdock. "It can result in adverse effects when you don't allow your body to recover and rest while continuously doing intense training properly. You may experience symptoms like fatigue, decline in performance, and possibly injury. You can train hard but must also train smart to keep progressing."

You're not fueling before and after workouts.

casein protein shake with powder next to it

Skipping pre and post-workout nutrition is a zero-sum game that can leave you feeling sluggish and frustrated. Opt for balanced snacks before and after workouts to energize and support muscle recovery.

"There are certain foods you want to ensure you consume before and after training. Try eating complex carbohydrates for sustained energy before a workout (ideally at least two hours). This could include something like fruit with nuts or yogurt. After your workout, aim for protein. This helps the muscles to repair and recover," says Murdock.

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You're not staying hydrated.

woman drinking water at the gym

Dehydration can affect performance and recovery, so keep that water bottle handy. Drink water throughout the day and during workouts to stay refreshed and at your best.

"Hydrating the body before, during, and after a workout will help cool the body and avoid overheating," explains Murdock. "It also helps to lubricate the joints and transport oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. None of this can happen if the body is dehydrated."

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You're comparing yourself to others.

men working out at gym

Like running a marathon, you must go at your own pace when making gains in the gym. Comparing yourself to others can lead to frustration and demotivate you. Celebrate your achievements, big or small, and give yourself credit for the hard work you're putting in.

"Focusing on what others are doing in the gym will only distract you from your goal. Remember that everyone's wellness journey is different, and you can't compare your beginning to someone else's end. Others can inspire you but be mindful if that inspiration encourages negative self-talk," says Murdock.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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