There is more than one mistake people make when it comes to trying to get in shape, whatever that may mean for each individual. Whether it be to gain size, lose weight, tone up, have better cardiovascular fitness or to have greater strength, you cannot expect to do a few things here and there and hope for the best.

What in MY opinion is one common mistake holding people back from progressing?

Not planning!

This applies to both your nutrition as well as working out; I want to focus on working out.

Imagine a surgeon walked into surgery with no plan as to what he/she was going to do, there is a good chance he/she may fail.

Walking into the gym, while less serious than botching a surgery, is the same, you can expect to fail.

As a beginner you might be thinking that you don’t even know where to start, so I have put together some helpful pointers to help get you there.



How many times do you plan to workout? Personally I would aim for 3-4 if you are just starting out. Do you plan to have some cardio days and some resistance days? Whatever it is, plot out your ideal week.


leg day

If you really have no idea how to even approach dumbbells or fixed path resistance machines, have a look at Pinterest and search “lower body workouts” and I can guarantee you there will be a plethora. You can also look at THIS IS NOT JUST FOR BIG HEAVY WEIGHT LIFTERS. Get that out of your head immediately. You are going to lift weights, you, if you are a woman, are not going to bulk, it’s almost impossible without an elite level of training.


Open spiral notebook with pen on wooden table.

Write it down. Aim to make your workout at least 30 min long (in my opinion), making extra time for warming up and cooling down and stretching. Write down one exercise after the next, starting with what you perceive to be the most difficult.


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As a general rule of thumb, you, if you are a beginner, will aim for about 12-15 reps, 3-4 times (sets), with a 30 second break in between. Take your breaks as seriously as your active moments. Don’t start texting and find that 3 minutes has passed in between each exercise. The reason I say you should plan how many times you are going to do each exercise is because that way you are accountable to something. Even I, a personal trainer, will give up earlier than I should if I have no goal to reach. You will get tired and give up, convincing yourself that you have done enough. Your brain is a sneaky bugger.


Business graph with red rising arrow over white background

As the weeks go by you need to make sure you are getting better. Whether it be more reps in each set or preferably, a heavier weight. Don’t try and progress too quickly. Towards the end of your set, you should feel like you may not be able to do another single rep ever again…but you will…if you take your rest period seriously. As you go on you will need to re look at your reps and sets, but worry about that once you feel you have plateaued, and get heavier and do less. Don’t worry about this for now. Focus on the planning.

There are a lot of things to focus on, especially when it comes to form and being mindful of every single movement, making sure you are sufficiently warm and that you don’t over exert yourself leading to injury.

Ideally a personal trainer is what you need if you are totally clueless, but even us PTs get it, it can be expensive to have a trainer every day, and believe it or not, we want to see you succeed with or without us.

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