Making mistakes is an inevitable part of working out at home. Even though gyms are now open, many of us are sticking with our more flexible routine of getting it done in the living room or garden – but unfortunately, this could mean we’re more likely to keep repeating the same home workout errors.
So, instead of continuing with bad form and less than helpful habits, get clued up on how to address these issues and work out properly on your own.
11 common home workout mistakes
1. NOT WARMING UP
“Getting straight into the workout and skipping the warm-up is a major mistake, whether it’s due to lack of time or not realising the importance of a thorough warm-up,” advises PT Sarah Campus, founder of LDN Fitness Mums. “Proper preparation readies the body for exercise both physically and mentally and helps the body and mind return to its pre-exercise state and reduce the chance of injury.”
2. TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH TOO SOON
“Going too hard, too fast is the quickest way to injure yourself and hit a wall,” says PT Nicole Wright. “If you’re just getting back into exercise, start slowly and build up gradually. Don’t start with five workouts a week – spread them out with a day’s rest in between, picking a workout that’s the right level for you now.”
“Remember, this might not be what you were able to do previously. Once you’ve built up a good fitness base again, then you can go harder and really push yourself.”
3. IGNORING MODIFICATIONS
“I always tell everyone in my class to make modifications where necessary, especially when working out from home. Doing so is not a sign of weakness; in fact, they give you the opportunity to learn the skills and techniques that will build your strength and confidence,” advises Maria Eleftheriou, head of barre at Psycle.
“There’s no point in jumping high and lifting heavy if you’re not doing them with proper technique – you’ll only cause yourself an injury. If you need to lift slightly lighter weights to complete the reps or take slightly longer rest periods, you’re not cheating yourself. Within a few months, you’ll find yourself building up to more advanced options.”
4. PERFORMING EXERCISES INCORRECTLY
Training at home makes it easier than ever to ingrain bad habits, especially when it comes to proper technique. Fortunately, there are some ways to check you’re hitting the right marks.
“If you’re concerned about your form or if something doesn’t feel right and/or you’re feeling pain, try and book in a video session with a PT so they can check in on your form,” advises Katie Anderson, Head of Training at Fly Ldn. “This way, your trainer can take it back to basics and break down each exercise by muscle group.”
“Alternatively, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that offer step-by-step guides. If training with dumbbells, don’t be afraid to drop the weight if an exercise doesn’t feel right. It’s always better to master your form before increasing the weight or intensity.”
5. NOT TAKING RECOVERY SERIOUSLY
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is not taking time to cool down and recover,” says Yumi Nutrition PT and nutritionist Mike Woodall. “Stretching is essential for recovery – any workout will result in tight muscles if you work hard enough so it’s important to counteract that with a good stretching routine to prevent or minimise sore muscles.”
6. FOCUSING TOO MUCH ON ONE TYPE OF TRAINING
“The most effective workout programme will include cardio, strength and stretch. Neglecting to include them all over the course of your week will have a counterproductive effect on results,” says Stone.
“Additionally, an imbalance in your training can have implications for your posture and performance. So, when you put your programme together make sure all three components are included, and that for every muscle group you train, the opposing muscle group is also trained. It doesn’t have to be in each and every session, but you should be able to tick every box at the end of your workout week.”
7. INVESTING IN THE WRONG EQUIPMENT
“Often people make the wrong purchase choices for their level of fitness or the type of exercise they really want to do, meaning the exercise bike becomes a clothes rack and the dumbbells become dust gatherers. Before you invest in any home gym equipment, think long and hard about whether it’s right for you and the type of exercise you enjoy doing,” says Sweatband PT Ruth Stone.
Stone also suggests being cautiously optimistic when it comes to buying free weights – dumbbells, kettlebells and other weighted objects. Pick a weight that you won’t find too light in a month but you can still work well with as you build your strength up.
8. FORGETTING HOW IMPORTANT SLEEP IS
“Try to get a more consistent bedtime and wake time as this will help you feel well-rested and full of energy. Sleep is shown to impact how well you can work out and the more rested you are the better your workout will be. As well as providing you with energy, sleep is also essential as this is when the body and mind recover,” says Woodall.
9. OVERDOING THE HIIT
“HIIT (also known as high-intensity interval training) has grown in popularity over the last few years due to its ability to provide a killer workout in a short space of time. The endorphin rush that you feel (once you have picked yourself up off the floor) after a HIIT home workout is like no other and it can become very addictive, but it is easy to forget that HIIT isn’t a silver bullet and you should not only do this form of exercise,” says Matt Willman, head trainer at F45 Milton Keynes.
“Putting your body through a gruelling high-intensity workout puts your body under stress. When done at the right frequency it can help your body physiologically. However, doing too much HIIT can lead to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can weaken the immune system and cause muscle atrophy and even fat synthesis (the storing of body fat). A maximum of three HIIT sessions a week is plenty and should give you the results you want.”
10. NOT HAVING A PLAN
“Just because you’re training at home doesn’t mean your training programme should go out the window. We’ve all gone through a lot of changes over the last year, and many of our day-to-day routines have been put on the back burner,” says Pure Gym Leeds’ Beth Truman.
“This can cause decision fatigue, where the need to decide every day what to do and when to do it becomes so draining that you lose motivation to do anything. This also applies to your workouts. Having a plan of what you’re going to train for the week gives you accountability, and structure to your training. A plan puts your goals into action so plan, plan, plan.”
Some of our favourite workout plans:
- This four-week functional fitness plan will help build your strength training confidence, as well as develop full-body power for everyday life.
- You don’t need any equipment for Kayla Itsines’ four-week home workout guide, it’s completely bodyweight. Just show up and put your best effort in.
- Fancy something low-impact? Try a month-long walking plan designed to get you fitter and build stamina.
- PT Guari Chopra’s HIIT plan is brilliant for beginners. It’ll improve your endurance and push you past your comfort zone.
- Work with Alice Liveing as she guides you through a 28-day fitness challenge, focusing on strength training for beginners and understanding proper technique.
11. EXERCISING WITHOUT SHOES ON
You’ve got your gym leggings and sports bra on but you’re thinking about going barefoot because you’re at home. Sounds simple enough but in actuality, you could be doing yourself and your workout a disservice. If you are interested in training without shoes, the best approach is to start slowly.
“While training barefoot feels great on the soles of the feet, it requires your body to learn a new foot positioning and can change the way in which your body is responding to the exercise,” explains trainer and sports therapist Katie Higginbotham.
“Doing it can put excess demand on specific areas of the feet and create extra discomfort – take it slow, introduce a barefoot approach slowly and get the body used to what you are asking from it.”