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Common Weightlifting Mistakes To Avoid

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

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Hey there, it's Nolan, I am a certified personal trainer with over two decades of experience in the whacky world of health and fitness. I've clocked countless hours in more gyms than I can count and trust me, I've seen it all! People come to the gym for various reasons - to look better, to up their game in sports, or to stay pain and injury free.

But no matter the starting point, one thing holds: the path of a weightlifter is an ever-evolving adventure. From beginners fumbling with their form to intermediates wrestling with plateaus, all the way to advanced lifters perfecting their craft, each stage presents unique challenges. It's a journey that calls for an adaptable strategy to sidestep common pitfalls that could slow you down or even cause injuries.

I recently had the honor of interviewing Fred Borzumato on the topic of mistakes that weightlifters make on my podcast. You can listen to it HERE.

So, I hope you can learn from some of the best insights in my 20 years of experience!

Mistakes Beginners Make

We all love to see newbies in the gym! Wandering around from station to station like a lost puppy looking for a home. So we always try to make them feel as comfortable as possible so they keep coming back and keep exercising till they feel at home. So, let's talk about the common 'oops' moments that beginners often stumble upon when getting started. Trust me, avoiding these can make your gym life a whole lot easier.

  • The first thing that comes up is 'improper form'—the most common gym blunder. Ever seen a newbie performing bicep curls that look more like a wild dance move? Yeah, that's what we're talking about. Ensuring correct form is critical, not just to target the right muscles, but also to keep your body safe. Before you start an exercise, look up a quick video on proper form, starting with the correct form will give you the results you want and reduce the risk of injury. Your form will consistently develop over time, so don't be afraid to ask more experienced lifters for advice. Most of them are friendly and eager to help.

  • The other big whoops are the notorious 'ignoring warm-ups'. Jumping straight into heavy lifting without a proper warm-up is like walking up to a huge dude, slapping him in the face and screaming "I want you to beat the sh*t out of me!" Warm-ups prepare your body and muscles for the strenuous activity ahead, helping to prevent injuries. Some of the best warm-ups are taking a few minutes on a cardio machine and doing some mobility work. For great functional mobility warm-up watch this video:

  • Lastly, 'inconsistent routines' are classic beginner mistakes. Consistency is the key to success. Hitting the gym once in a blue moon and expecting to turn into Hercules is like waiting for a pizza delivery when you didn't order anything! I see loads of people trying to piece together workouts from Instagram or youtube that kinda work for a short term, but there is no bigger plan and then they fall off the rails after a while. Here is a kick-ass 6-Week Workout Program if you want something to get you started.

So there you have it! Avoid these pitfalls, and you'll be off to a strong start. Remember, this whole thing is a process, so stay consistent, find a community, and keep working out!

Mistakes Intermediate Lifters Make

As great as it is to see a newbie take off, it's even better to see them cruising in the intermediate lane. But we also see them hit their own set of mistakes that if avoided will make your training sooooo much more productive. Intermediate is a tricky phase because that's usually when a person has more perceived knowledge than actual knowledge. So keep your eyes and ears open!

  • First off, let's address 'overtraining.' Yes, you're no longer a beginner and yes, you can push your limits. This is when you cant start to get a pump and your motivation is high! But pushing too hard without enough rest? That's like trying to run a marathon with a flat tire. Overtraining can lead to burnout, injuries, and decreased performance. So, remember to prioritize your rest days as rest days, and don't injure yourself and lose all that progress you've made so far.

  • Next up, 'not adjusting diet.' At this stage, you're lifting more and burning more calories. If you are dieting, you need to be sure that you are getting the right amount of macros to fuel your workouts. Think of eating as fuel for your training and you need the right balance of fuel to operate at your highest level. Diet can go the other way too if you find yourself overeating junk food and justifying it because now you work out, that will definitely catch up with you, and not in a good way.

  • Lastly, we have 'plateauing.' This is when progress seems to stall, and you can't lift heavier, no matter how hard you try. But this is totally normal! It's just your body's way of saying it needs a new challenge. Your body had changed to adapt to the stress you have placed on it from resistance training. All you need is to change the training and shake up your routine a bit!

So, my intermediate friends, keep these points in mind and you'll be cruising into a lifelong exercise habit and keep improving.

Mistakes Advanced Lifters Make

By the time someone becomes an advanced lifter at the gym, you've put in the blood, sweat, and maybe even a few tears to get here. But even at this level, there are pitfalls that can trip up even the most seasoned lifters. An overarching common mistake is thinking you know everything, so keep learning, save what serves you, and disregard the rest.

  • Firstly, there's the tendency to 'neglect weaker muscle groups.' Let's be honest, we all love to flex those pumped biceps or chiseled abs. But focusing too much on our 'mirror muscles' and neglecting less visible ones can lead to imbalances and increase injury risk. There is something called the Kinetic Chain that basically states that if something is imbalanced in your body it will affect all movement. So keep on top of the lesser muscle groups, like your calves!

  • Secondly, we have 'ignoring rest and recovery.' I get it, at this point you're advanced, you're committed, you're practically part of the gym furniture. But recovery is still just as crucial now as it was on day one. If you're not giving your body time to heal, you're setting yourself up for setbacks. Overtraining injuries can happen to you at any phase of your lifting journey, so keep prioritizing recovery time.

  • But the granddaddy of all advanced lifter mistakes? Drumroll, please... 'Neglecting mobility work.' Shocking, I know! You've mastered the art of lifting heavy but let's not forget about our dear friend, flexibility. Mobility work keeps those joints healthy, maintains a full range of motion, and improves your lifting form as well as prevents injury. I can't tell you how many old lifters can't raise their arms all the way up or bend over to tie their shoes. BUT! By incorporating regular mobility work, you can be strong AF and be able to use that strength. For a great mobility and core workout watch this video:

So, keep these pointers in mind and continue to lift smarter, not just harder. The pinnacle of advanced lifting isn't just about the weight on the bar, it's about overall balance and longevity in the game.

Universal Mistakes That Lifers Make

Alright, gym fam, time to address the big, stretchy elephant in the room: mobility work. You know, that thing you zip past on your way to the weights rack? It's high time we give it the respect it deserves.

Mobility work is crucial because it goes beyond mere flexibility—it's about strength within your full range of motion. It keeps your joints happy, and muscles firing correctly, and lets you perform exercises with better form. Think of it as the WD-40 that keeps your gym machine well-oiled and running smoothly.

Sadly, it's the underdog of the fitness world, often neglected by beginners, intermediates, and advanced lifters alike. The siren call of the weights often drowns out the quiet hum of the foam roller.

But let's change that, shall we? Here's how you can weave mobility work into your routine:

1. **Pre-workout:** Warm up your joints and prime your body with some dynamic stretching.

2. **Post-workout:** Grab that foam roller or lacrosse ball for some self-myofascial release. Think of it as a DIY massage!

3. **Active rest days:** Incorporate yoga or Pilates into your routine. These disciplines can work wonders on your mobility while providing a nice change of pace.

Remember, the ultimate goal of fitness is to not just be strong but also to be functional and injury-free. So, start giving mobility work the time and attention it deserves. Your future self will thank you!


So, there you have it! From the beginners grappling with improper form, inconsistent routines, and skipped warm-ups, to the intermediates wrestling with overtraining dietary neglect, and frustrating plateaus, and all the way up to our advanced lifters overlooking weaker muscle groups, skimping on rest, and yes, the biggie - neglecting mobility work.

Navigating these pitfalls is crucial for efficient, safe training and continued progress. Remember, weightlifting isn't just about lifting the heaviest weights—it's about lifting the right way. So, keep your eyes open for these common mistakes and you're set for a successful, injury-free weightlifting journey.

The learning doesn't stop here, though! There's always more to know, more to improve. So, I encourage you to keep seeking knowledge, keep pushing your boundaries, and most importantly, enjoy the ride.

For more tips, tricks, and insights into the world of fitness, check out other resources on Your journey to a healthier, stronger you continues here. Stay strong, stay curious, and above all, stay fit!

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