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Personal trainer reveal the biggest fitness faux pas people make when they start working out

Personal trainers have revealed the biggest fitness faux pas people make when starting a new regime. 

From working out too often to not sleeping enough, the experts from across the UK offered their tips on the behaviour you need to tackle if you want your next fitness overhaul to be the one that sticks. 

Farah Fonseca, who has twice been name England’s Strongest Woman, explained people are unrealistic when it comes to setting goals, while Tom Pitfield stressed the importance of maintaining a balanced diet.    

Here, Femail reveals the biggest mistakes to look out for…  

Not setting a clear goal 

Not setting a clear goal, or being realistic with your goals, is something all three PTs agreed was a common mistake (stock image)

Goals are an important part of any new fitness regime, but it easy to fall short if you set unrealistic goals. 

Farah Fonseca, who is has twice been name England’s Strongest Woman, said: ‘Most people don’t set themselves a goal or they set a goal which is generally too high and unachievable. 

Expecting results too quickly 

Once the goals are set, it is natural to want to see the results of your hard work. But there is a danger in expecting it all to happen too soon.  

Farah, who has been working as a personal trainer for seven years, through a women’s only bootcamp Fonseca Fitness said: ‘Most people feel as though they have at least one bad habit and they try to completely eliminate that habit over night. 

‘For some, this might work, as they have an all or nothing personality, however for most, this attitude might work for a few weeks or even a couple of months and then these bad habits tend to come crawling back in.  

Tom Pitfield, who’s been working as personal trainer for more than 10 years and stars in ITV’s  Eat, Shop, Save as a fitness consultant said: ‘Try and not over complicate things.

‘Don’t come up with a extravagant exercise regime and either be injured or unable to move after two weeks. If you are going from very little exercise to exercising two times a week – its progression and that’s all that you matters initially.

‘Be specific in what you want, you can’t train for a marathon, desire to gain muscle mass and loose body fat in one training program. Again, one step at a time.’

‘Goals need to be something which is achievable and also maintainable.’

James Smith, who runs Elite Bodyworks, a strength and conditioning gym in Basingstoke, agrees.

He said: ‘The biggest mistake we see is not having a clearly defined goal and a route to that goal which is achievable. 

‘Usually people aren’t ready to change their lifestyles completely so we work with people to set small sustainable goals which can be maintained long term. 

‘Within the gym it’s following the same programme for too long and therefore getting bored and stopping, or not recording the sessions that are completed so usually people end up using the same weights session after session and making little to no progress.’

Ignoring nutrition 

James said it’s also important to watch what you eat.

‘Trying to cut their food intake in half or attempt an extreme diet, very rarely, if ever works’ he said.

‘Initially we work on very simple things; water intake, sleep patterns, protein goal, healthy fats and lots of fruit and vegetables.’

Tom added: ‘In regards to nutrition, planning is key. You’ll need to plan daily, looking at when you can eat, also what you can eat?

‘Will you have healthy food ready available or will you need to prep for the day ahead. Fail to prepare- prepare to fail.’

He continued that calorie counting was important if you want to burn fat.

Tom says that in regards to nutrition it's important to think ahead - and getting lots of fruit, vegetables and protein is the best for fat loss

Tom says that in regards to nutrition it’s important to think ahead – and getting lots of fruit, vegetables and protein is the best for fat loss

‘Simple math plays a part here. You need to be burning more calories than you are taking on’ he said.

Be realistic about your schedule 

Tom, who has worked at the Hale County Club in Cheshire for seven years, said: ‘There is no book to tell you how to work these lifestyle changes around your uniquely balanced daily routine.  So, planning becomes arguably the most important aspect of your “getting lean” plan. 

‘You’ll need to plan your training, whether it be when you’re going to train or how you’re going to train. 

‘Look at planning your training for the weeks ahead around a sometimes busy schedule – taking into consideration work, travel, family and social your calendar. It needs to attainable, achievable and show progression. 

Farah agreed, pointing out: ‘Maintainable goals could be to do with nutrition or the amount someone wants to train per week.

‘If training twice per week is achievable around a busy work schedule and home life, then automatically doubling this to four times per week, ultimately is going to become extremely unachievable. 

‘Perhaps think about the intensity of your workouts in those two sessions per week or work towards getting a third session. ‘

‘So a relationship is needed between exercise and food. A balance between carbs, fats and protein is essential and you will need to plan your meals around these three aspects’.

He added that getting enough protein key.

‘Eating enough protein can be a struggle for some’ he continued. ‘As general rule of thumb try to include a lean protein source with every meal.’ 

Going too hard, too fast

There are simple ways to increase daily activity, before you hit the gym, so that you don’t burn out too quickly.

‘NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the easiest form of energy expenditure but the one that is often overlooked by many people’ he said.

‘Don’t under estimate how just daily activity levels can play a part in reducing body fat. 

‘Tracking your steps for example is a great way to monitor your daily movement. 

Add this up over the week, take an average and you’ll be surprised and how much you’ve achieved. Once you have a seven day average, look to increase this each week over your fat loss journey. 

‘10,000 steps a day is a great initial target to aim for, helping you dip into that calorie deficit.’

Tom says that a lack of rest and setting 'unachievable goals' can lead to burnout

Tom says that a lack of rest and setting ‘unachievable goals’ can lead to burnout

Not getting enough sleep and rest

Working out is great, but rest is essential for keeping your body fit and healthy.  

‘During your plan, rest is crucial. You will need to recover adequately to ensure that your repeated efforts both in and out of the gym are rewarded,’ Tom said.

‘In regards to rest, you’ll need to plan adequate rest periods into your weekly exercise routine. 

‘Your body needs time recover due to the repeated metabolic stress of training and with the right nutrition and sensible training plan 1 or 2 days of rest per week is enough. 

‘A rest day can consist of no gym (weights) but doesn’t mean no activity. A long walk with the dog or family can be a great way to recover but still keep your daily activity levels up.

Tom continued: ‘Sleep comes under this category also. Unbroken sleep a for 7-8 hours is ideal when putting your body under stress (training hard). This may have never been a priority before but needs to be when getting lean.’    

Unbroken sleep a for 7-8 hours is ideal when putting your body under stress, according to Tom

Unbroken sleep a for 7-8 hours is ideal when putting your body under stress, according to Tom


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