You don’t really know shit when you start lifting weights. You might think you do, but you don’t. When I first started lifting, I was in high school, and even though I was getting stronger and adding muscle, I made a lot of mistakes.

In fact, looking back at it now, it’s hard to believe some of the things I did in the weight room when I was younger. After working as a trainer for basically all of my adult life so far, there are a lot of things I would do differently if I were to start over.

But, I can’t. So instead of wondering what I could have done differently, let’s go over some common mistakes new lifters make so we can help people get stronger and not fuck themselves up in the process!


Actual photo of an ego unchecked.

Everyone wants to be strong, and they want to be strong fast. So, if that means putting proper form on the back burner so they could lift the heaviest weight possible, so be it.

You see it all the time, especially someone like myself, who basically lives in the gym. Swaying back and forth on the lat pulldown, loading up the leg press for three half-ass (that’s being generous, more like quarter-ass) reps.

Here’s the thing, no one gives a shit about your workout.

Looking back, I didn’t truly appreciate how much time I had to develop my size and strength. Your early years in the weight room should focus on establishing a base level of strength, not trying to show off how strong you think you are.


This ties in directly to the first mistake of not checking your ego at the door. I was guilty of this as well. Rather than looking at my workouts as building blocks to the bigger picture, I was more interested in going balls to the wall every time I was in the gym. Rather than working with weights I could handle for multiple sets to accumulate long lasting strength and muscle over time, I wanted to see how much weight I could lift. If I did 150lbs on the lat pulldown last week, I had to pull at least 160lbs next week or I failed.

In reality, if you’re focusing on testing your strength every time you lift, you’re not building anything. You’re simply seeing how strong you are (or how strong you aren’t) every training session. Look at the bigger picture and understand that going heavier with your weights isn’t the only way to progress. There are a lot of ways you can add size and strength. Isometrics, eccentric overloading, switching the exercise variations…the list of ‘how to get strong and jacked AF’ is a long list and doesn’t start and end with going heavier.


Walking on the treadmill for ten minutes is hardly sufficient to prepare you for the iron. I get it; you want every moment in the gym to be spent attacking the weight room. Doing anything else, especially warming up, is just going to cut into the time you could be spending doing curls. Warming up? No thanks.

If you’re a teenager or even in your 20’s, you can get away with not warming up as much as someone who is in their 30’s-40’s and needs to warm up with mobility before they even think about lifting any weights. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Warming up isn’t just about elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat, it’s much more than that. It prepares your joints and ligaments for the weights. It gets you into the right mindset and prepares you mentally for the workout. It engages the CNS (central nervous system) so you have a stronger mind-muscle connection and are able to perform better. It can be as easy as performing some mobility drills to start, working on opening up your range of motion in the hips, ankles, shoulders, and upper back. Then getting into some movement-specific drills to prepare your body for heavier weights.

Example – If you’re benching, don’t just slap on 135lbs and start going to town. Do some light shoulder work, get the elbows warmed up with some light band extensions, and get a ‘pump’ in the upper back with band pull aparts for a stronger support system when benching. After that, do some push-ups or warm up sets with the bar before you start adding weight. I guarantee you will feel better, be able to push more weight, and will add muscle over time because of how much more volume you are accumulating with your warm up sets.


Great to prepare the hips for deadlifts, squats, or other lower body dominant workoiuts.

Drive your knee up toward your chest, keeping your balancing leg locked and create as much tension in the body as you can for 2-3 sets of 10-15 sec each.

Back foot elevated, squeeze your glute for optimal hip extension. Hold each side for 1-2 min.

Drive your knee up toward your chest, keeping your balancing leg locked and create as much tension in the body as you can for 2-3 sets of 10-15 sec each.

Extend your hip up off the ground while driving your banded knee toward your chest for a 2 sec hold. 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.


Great before bench, pull ups, or other upper body workouts.

2-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

2-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

Focus on hard isometric contractions (2-3 sec) each position by squeezing your upper back muscles. 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps each position.

Focus on making big circles with your arms, as you come around, retract the shoulders (don’t hyperextend the lower back and bring the chest off the ground). Thinking pinching your shoulder blades together. 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.


Personally, I didn’t skip every leg day, but I definitely would make any excuse possible to not work on my legs and much preferred doing upper body. I never looked like a light bulb and have always had naturally strong legs, so that gave me even more BS reasoning to not squat or deadlift. When I did work on legs, it would be half-ass easy stuff like leg extensions, curls, and leg presses. Then, once in a while, I would deadlift with the trap bar because I didn’t know how to do it with the straight bar.

But, after being in and around the gym long enough, I started to understand how performing lower body movements would benefit my entire body. I started learning how to squat properly, how to deadlift with the straight bar, how to lunge with barbells and dumbbells, and I started noticing gains almost immediately.

Fun fact: Your legs make up half of your body. They consist of the largest muscles you have. So, with that being said, if you want to be strong and jacked, you need to work on your legs. The stronger your legs are, the stronger your upper body is going to be. Its an all-inclusive approach. Fact.

We want to do what we’re good at, and most of the time, with new lifters, it involves something that is upper body based. Benching, pull ups, push ups, curls…So it’s easy to neglect shit that is hard to do. Squatting, deadlift, lunging…these are big movements that put a lot of demand on the body and thus require adequate amounts of practice to perform efficiently. If you haven’t learned how to do them, its easy to put them on the back burner and focus on getting bigger arms because you think that’s what people are going to notice.

Take the time to learn how to perform the big leg movements and do them at least 1-2 times per week. Your upper body will thank you, and so will your girlfriend/boyfriend. No one likes peg legs.

Don’t be a light bulb. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be Johnny Bravo.


When you start lifting, you’re looking for the pump. You want your arms to blow up and look jacked so you can stare at yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself. Machines give you concentrated blood flow and allow you to isolate muscle groups. Curls, triceps extensions, dip machines, pec fly…these are the usual go to machines for new lifters. Oh, and any hammer strength chest press, those are the shit!

When I first started lifting, I used a lot of machines. My thought process was, since I am getting such direct blood flow to my muscles, this is the best way to get them bigger and stronger.

And I was getting bigger, but only when I first started. When you first start lifting weights, it almost doesn’t matter what kind of program you do. As long as you do it consistently, you’re going to see a difference, but that doesn’t last forever. Eventually, your body catches up to this and what once stimulated a response in the body, isn’t sufficient enough to break down muscle fibers and cause them to grow.

Think of your workout as a full course meal.

You have your appetizer, main course, dessert, and tea (or coffee, whatever you want). You start off with your appetizer (warm up) to prepare you for the main course (compound lifts). After you have finished your meat and veggies, you get to enjoy some dessert (isolation work). After dessert, you relax and recover from the meal with some tea (mobility/stretching).

If you start off with too much dessert, you will spoil your appetite and you won’t be able to enjoy your dinner. Too much of anything is going to be detrimental to your progress, so try to have a balance.

Free weights cause more motor unit activation, causing more muscle fiber breakdown, which translates to increased muscle hypertrophy and overall strength. When you start lifting, focus on mastering fundamental free weight movements like the bench, deadlift, and squat and work your way around them, sprinkling in machine and isolation work to compliment your lifting.


I get it, McDonald’s is awesome and let’s be honest, Whole Foods isn’t exactly wallet-friendly, especially if you’re looking to eat enough to support muscle growth and get strong AF.

I love food. If I weren’t a trainer, I would be involved in the restaurant business in one way or another. So when I say I ate a lot as a teenager (and still do, just a lot healthier), I ate a lot. I would literally be finishing a cheeseburger as I hit the gym floor to start my workout. Idiot. And then after I was done my workout, I’d top it off with a milkshake and another cheeseburger. Idiot. A&W was my favourite. Teen burgers are awesome…and cheap.

The concept of ‘dirty bulking’ sounds amazing. “You mean I get to eat whatever I want and get jacked!”

In reality, if I had done things like meal prep, incorporated high quality sources of protein, and added more vegetables to my diet, not only would I have added WAY more muscle, I would have been benefiting my health. You can get away with eating like your life depended on it when you’re younger, but remember, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Drink more water, eat vegetables, cook chicken, fish, and red meat. Then, once in a while, enjoy yourself and have a cheeseburger.

Don’t focus on restricting your diet, focus on adding healthy options.


This is something I see frequently in the gym. You’ll have a guy who hasn’t squatted before, trying to follow Dorian Yates’ leg routine, and wonder why they can’t walk after three weeks. Or a girl who buys their favourite Instagram model’s program because they want their butt to look like her’s. This is just a dumb idea. You have to earn the right to be able to train the way these athletes or models do. They worked their assess off for years to develop the strength, stamina, and athletic ability needed to perform their workouts. And more often then that, their full time job is to train and appear a certain way for the camera. It doesn’t mean they always look like that, or if it’s even healthy!

Don’t get anxious and think you have to be on some program from your favourite bodybuilder if you want to get gains. Start slow and build up to that.

There is so much to learn when you first start lifting and so much opportunity to grow, so I will leave you with some very quick, but useful, tips I wish I knew when I first started weight training.

  • Stretch and work on your mobility consistently.
  • Drink more water.
  • Have high quality protein after every workout.
  • Rest is necessary for muscle growth.
  • Incorporate variety into your exercise selection.
  • Don’t beat yourself up and ENJOY IT!


Then take this free gift now. Seriously, take it. HURRY.