The inside scoop: 18 things you shouldn’t do at the gym

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The gym – are you doing it right?

Whether you’re a gym noob or a seasoned pro, you should avoid these gym no-nos at all costs.

We asked our top gym insiders for tips on what not to do at the gym and their responses are wise, useful and hilarious in equal measure!

To keep things simple and help you identify your weak spots, we’ve split the tips into mind and body categories. So, are you in trouble? Only one way to find out…


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Get your mindset right

1. Don’t train your ego

“Don’t train your ego. Get it into your head that you’re not there to compete with the guy next to you, you’re there to train your muscles, not your ego. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing as long as you are working your muscles as hard as you possibly can on any given day.”

Kevan from Peak Physique and Fitness.

2. Don’t be inconsistent

“Be consistent at turning up. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a great session every time you go to the gym. If you are training five days a week and you have two great sessions in a week its been a good weeks training. The people who reach their goals are the ones who keep going!”

Kieran from Bodylines Natural Gym.

3. Don’t forget it’s all about you

“Train for yourself and not everyone else, train for your health and not to look good: you’re training for your own body.”

Dean from Gordon’s Gym.

4. Don’t panic if you haven’t lost weight

“Don’t always follow the weighing scales and don’t get disheartened if you haven’t lost any weight. Weigh yourself once a month and concentrate on your measurements and overall inch loss.”

Sam from Be Fitness Gym.

5. Don’t forget your manners

– Don’t squat when you need a wee
– Don’t bench while wearing loose fitting boxers under their shorts
– Don’t get caught posing in front of the mirror
– Don’t lift more than ones technique and strength permits
– Don’t leave equipment out
– Don’t take shirts off

Michaela from Breeze’s Gym.

6. Don’t be selfish

“Always put the weights away, always wipe the machines after using them, always look out for others training around you as safety is very important in the gym and always look after the equipment.”

Charlotte from Fit For Free Gym.

7. Don’t lose focus

“If you have a goal and well designed training program to meet that goal, then see it out. Don’t get distracted with what other people are doing or let your ego get the better of you. If you believe in your program (and if you don’t then you’re wasting your time!) then see it through, put in the work and you’ll get where you want to go.

Analyze what you could do better at the end of the program and improve the next one. Hopping from one “trendy” program to the next or coming off it to set a new max early or try out something “fun” is one of the most common reasons I see for lack of progress and sometimes injury in the gym. It’s ok and sometimes beneficial to try different things and mix up your training from time to time. If nothing else it keeps boredom at bay and helps you stay motivated but it’s counterproductive if it has a detrimental effect on the rest of your training and recovery.

Training is a lifetime pursuit, there’s plenty of time to try everything. You don’t need to do it all right this second.”

Derek from Glasgow Strength.


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Make sure you’re doing it right

8. Don’t skip your warm up

“Always remember a warm up is key to stay injury free.”

Charlotte from Fit For Free Gym.

9. Don’t do something for nothing

“Don’t do something for nothing! Too often I have clients and members that come up to me in frustration with a lack of progress or results, and this is usually based on the fact that they don’t know why they are following a certain programme or exercise, they are doing just because a friend told them, or a certain exercise looks cool etc.

Without knowing why you are doing something and how it will benefit you, you will struggle to get the results you desire. Justify all your exercises and relay them against your goals. If your reason for an exercise is not based on your goals (burn fat, build muscle, have fun etc) then find the exercises/programmes that will.”

Toby from H3 Performance.

10. Don’t lose control

“When exercising always control the weight on the upwards faze as well as on the downwards faze having control over the weight will give you a much more intense workout and will keep you injury free.”

Charlotte from Fit For Free Gym.

11. Don’t leave the weights lying around

“A tip re: dumbbells or weights people just drop, if you can’t put it down don’t pick it up.”

Mark from Cheetahs Gym says:

“If you can lift it, you can put it back on the rack”

Anthea from Muscleworks Enfield (formally Island Fitness).

12. Don’t forget mobility

“Movement is key no matter if you want to lift big, lose body fat, or want to live life easier and pain free: movement is the foundation. So work on mobility to improve movement and technique, that way you can increase strength and power, allowing you to train harder and faster.

I’d suggest lifting heavy on the four main movements, squats, deadlifts, push and pull. Then combining kettlebells, sprints, dips and rows in as many combinations as you can think of at high intensity.”

Danny from FST Fitness.

13. Don’t neglect your diet

“Motivation and discipline at home are equally as important as what you do in the gym. In fact it’s more about diet than training, you really are what you eat!”

Wayne from Fitness and Physique Gym.

14. Don’t forget to focus on one muscle

“Remember to focus on the muscle that you are working. Other muscles will be helping but always keep the focus on the one that you are working to get the most out of your exercise. For example when doing bicep curl stay strong at the wrists and light at the hands (Don’t squeeze the hands). By doing this you will put more emphasis on the target area that you are working (the biceps) and this can also cross over for other exercises.”

Charlotte from Fit For Free Gym.

15. Don’t be underprepared

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Preparation is key, particularly when it comes to nutrition.”

Luke from Samson’s Gym.

16. Don’t get ahead of yourself

“Remember even Mr Olympia had to start somewhere so if the weight is too heavy, lower it and this will help you have a better workout.”

Charlotte from Fit For Free Gym.

17. Don’t wear sunglasses inside

“Don’t wear sunglasses and a string vest in the gym while bicep curling in the squat rack – it isn’t a good look!”

Toby from H3 Performance.

18. Don’t forget to stretch and shake

“Don’t just walk into the gym and start lifting heavy weights without making sure that you stretch properly first. Not just 5 minutes cardio, prepare the body part that you are going to exercise for a pounding, nothing less. Also, don’t ever just finish and leave the gym without having your post workout shake, it’s that important!”

Kevan from Peak Physique and Fitness.

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