Headed to the gym? Put the bag down for a moment and listen. Are you sure you’re maximising your training the right way? The iron jungle can be a real minefield of misinformation at times, prompting you to make some common mistakes on your fitness journey that might end up costing you dearly in the end, or at least impair your progress significantly.

Yes, lifting weights and running on the treadmill is more complex than you might have previously imagined, especially if you want to see actual results in the shortest time possible. Here are the five common gym mistakes most dudes make that are costing them their gains.

Going in without a plan

What is the first thing that you need to do no matter if you’re taking a girl out to dinner, starting a business, or in your case, going to crush a workout? You need a plan of attack. Remember, only fools rush in. Alas, the majority of aspiring gym bros make the same mistake of going to the gym with nothing but bicep curls and chest presses in their heads.

Don’t be that dude. Not only will you get nowhere, but you will also look like a fool who obviously skipped one too many legs days. Instead, spend some time coming up with a sound training program that has realistic goals, and a methodical approach to progression. Ask yourself: do you want to become strong, jacked AF, or both? Then do some research on how to reach your goals over time. Before long, you will have surpassed every gym bro in sight.

Listening to the local gym bro gym

Speaking of gym bros, don’t listen to them. No, no matter how jacked they are or how much their advice seems to make sense. Every individual is different, so the methods that work for them might not work for you, or worse, they might impair your progress.

When you’re first starting out, and even when you reach the intermediate level, regular gym rats will be coming in from all sides with a “friendly” advice and a helping hand. Politely say no, and stick to your program, aiming to come back to the gym a little more knowledgeable than before. Every credible bodybuilder or powerlifter can be found on YouTube, so learn from the pros instead of the bros.

Wearing the wrong clothes and using inadequate gear

The clothes you wear and the gear you use can make all the difference. No matter if you’re lifting heavy weights, going for the pump, or training for endurance, you want to leave your plain cotton shirt and shorts at home, and instead, wear the clothes that are suitable for that particular type of workout.

If you’re training for strength, be sure to use lifting belts and knee-high socks to protect your lower back and spine while deadlifting. If you’re training for muscle size, you want to secure freedom of movement at all times, so always have a couple of comfy men’s stringers and shorts at hand. On the other hand, if endurance is your thing, be sure you wear breathable performance shirts and leggings.

Neglecting mobility and stretching

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You love the pump, don’t you? Lifting heavy makes you feel powerful, doesn’t it? Well, if you want to enjoy the sensation for years, even decades to come, you need to devote a bit of your precious time to mobility work. Did you ever wonder why so many of your gym bros get hurt at some point, busting their backs, or tearing their pecks?

It’s because they put constant tension on the muscles and connective tissue without stretching the stressed areas properly after training. In time, this pattern leads to injury. So don’t be that guy that’s out of the gym the minute the last curl is done, but instead spend at least ten minutes foam rolling and stretching. Your future self will thank you.

Sacrificing form for weight

Finally, and you see this mistake every time you step into the gym, people constantly sacrifice proper form for the weight on the bar. Not only is doing an exercise incorrectly dangerous, but it will impair your progress as well, leaving you stressed out and under-trained.

If you want to make quick gains and remain injury-free at the same time, you want to take the time to learn how an exercise should be performed, and then leave your ego at the front door before you walk into the gym. Stick to proper form, and the results will be greater than could have imagined.

The gym can be an unforgiving, frightening environment where men feel pressured to prove themselves and feel accepted, even if it means sacrificing their health and progress. Don’t be that guy. Instead, be the captain of your own ship, take matters into your own hands, and avoid these common mistakes in order to quickly reach your fitness goals.