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Top 6 biggest mistakes made when trying to 'get ripped'

Let's face it, whilst everyone trains for different reasons and there are different motivations for hitting the gym; both internal (e.g. I want to be the best version of myself, I want to get stronger) and external (e.g. my family need me to be fitter so I can play with my kids, my doctor said my BMI is dangerously high). Some of you will be focused on gaining muscle, building a big ole booty, losing body fat for a wedding, getting abs for a holiday, becoming fitter for your sport, getting better at cross fit etc.

The point, is that there are a lot of different goals and drivers behind those goals. But regardless of these goals, 99% of people will fall into the same traps, they will make the same mistakes.

Recharge Fitness is all about helping the UK public get fitter, improving our nations health, and make your body dreams come true. We've documented our own teams experiences, but also captured insight from the public; your average Joe, your top rate sports star, your fitness influencer and your high end personal trainer. There are a hell of a lot of common mistakes that we've all made. Avoid these, and with some hard work, you can get into fantastic shape.

(Customer @Zoepoppy1990 dropping 3 stone and looking super ripped. @Brysondalton64 lost 100lbs whilst still staying incredibly muscular)

Here are our top 6, we really hope you don't fall into these traps.

  1. Overtraining! You need to listen to your body, for me personally, I went through a period of overtraining. I was trying to get bigger for rugby, I was weights training 4/5 days a week, rugby training 3 times a week and playing at the weekend. Now this is a lot regardless; but it's only now when I look back on that 4 year period of my life how obvious it is. It's worth noting that at the time, I didn't really understand nutrition and I was also going out at least twice a week (Wednesday nights after university rugby games and on Saturdays again after club rugby). So I was training a lot, eating average at best, drinking as much as you'd expect a 20 something rugby lad to drink, and getting very little sleep. It's not a recipe for GAINS.

  2. YoYo dieting. Not something i've experienced but it happens a serious amount. Do you go through phases of being super restricted, losing a load of weight, then piling it all back on and more? It's common. When you are in a calorie deficit your fat cells shrink. When you are in a big surplus you actually gain fat cells. FAD diets don't work, I mean, they do; you lose weight, but you lose muscle too, which is definitely bad. They aren't something you can maintain, so results will always be short-lived. Then when you add calories back in, you end up in a worse plan than before, a similar weight, but with less muscle and more body fat.

  3. Not calorie counting. Listen, this isn't for everyone. It takes time and not everyone needs to count calories to lose weight, you just need a calorie deficit. It's pretty simple in theory. Calorie counting however, it's the only real way you can guarantee success. It's simple mathematics. Work out your maintenance calories each day. Then track your calories in using something like MyFitnessPal (which we'd recommend). If you are in a 500 calorie a day deficit you will lose 1lb a week. 1lb = 3500 calories. So over the 7 days (500 x 7 = 3500) you'll lose 1lb.

  4. Lifting too heavy. Blokes - I'm looking at you. In particular younger lads. We all want to impress our buddies, we chuck on an extra 10kg, we are convinced it'll impress our mates, or your gym admirer who you're certain will fall in love with you if you get a new PB bench lift. STOP. You are much much better lifting a little lighter, getting your technique right, ensure you have control throughout the whole lift and are focusing on really utilising the muscle. You'll notice you'll get a deeper 'burn' when you go a little lighter and really focus on using your muscles to lift. Lifting too heavy too soon will limit your gains or worse still, cause injury.

  5. Being impatient. (trying to lose weight too quickly). If you drop your calories too quickly, you will lose weight, but I can promise you, it won't be the type of weight you want to lose. You'll quickly drop water weight, and you'll also start to lose muscle mass, this in turn lowers your metabolism. When you come to train, you'll feel weak. You'll feel lethargic and after a few weeks, you'll start to cave into food based temptations. Slow and steady wins the race. In my experience (please seek your own medical advice) I'd limit your target weight loss to a maximum of 0.5%-1% of your body weight per week, probably nearer 0.5% if you already have a body fat % of less than 20%. If you're 150lbs - that means a maximum of 0.75lbs-1.5lbs a week (ignore the first week of weight loss which is typically higher due to less water retention). This 0.5% - 1% is the most you can expect to lose of pure body fat...which is the goal right?

  6. Not setting goals. Without clear goals, you will lack focus and accountability. Write down goals, commit to them. Ensure the goals are tangible. Give them a time frame. I find that 12 week blocks work well. e.g. In 12 weeks time I want to be able to squat 100kg for 10 reps at a body weight of 70kg. It's something you can measure. Look at it each week, and go make it happen. At the end of that 12 week block, get another goal written down.

There were other common mistakes that people shared, but the above were the top 6 most common mistakes made when trying to lose body fat or when trying to get beach ready. Other gym mistakes we see a lot include: comparing yourself to fitness influencers; genetics and steroids can play a part, just focus on you! We often see people trying to gain muscle and lose body fat at the same time, it's not impossible, but it's very difficult unless you're brand new to training, you're better off having a muscle gaining phase, followed by a fat loss phase to then reveal that new muscular physique. Finally, we also see lots of people over complicating things, having magic supplements, complex exercises, eating silly foods to boost metabolism by a tiny tiny amount. Keep it simple. Get your steps in, lift weights and eat slightly less calories than you'll lose good quality weight, we promise.

Feel free to add your own tips or commonly made mistakes.

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