Top 6 Beginner Workout Mistakes!

Top 6 Beginner Workout Mistakes!

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today we’re going to talk all about beginners
and that means – welcome, Jesse. JESSE: You took me out of hiding? JEFF: Well, now you’ve got a Seamus shirt
on, so… JESSE: The things I do for you here. JEFF: Way to bust right back into the ATHLEANX
video. I love Seamus. Seamus, he’s rocking your shirt. Today we’re talking about the six biggest
mistakes that beginners make. I think it’s very, very common. I think there are mistakes that a lot of us
make, or I wouldn’t be covering them in this video. I do think we all continue to learn. So, though you may not think of yourself as
a beginner, there’s always something you can learn. We’ve got guys who have been training for
50 years who watch this channel, who I hope are saying “Gosh, I learned something new
today”, or even in this video I hope, too. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: With that being said, let’s knock
them out one by one. The biggest mistakes that beginners make that
we can now start to change. You learn a lot of things by training with
full range of motion. I’m talking about on your big, compound
lifts. Your basic lifts. We’ll get into that in a second, too. The necessity of those. But you actually learn how to become more
coordinated. You weren’t the most coordinated person
the first time you came into the gym. JESSE: No. Even as an athlete. JEFF: I was going to say, the fact is, you
can go out and play your sport and be pretty decent at it in the process but get in the
weight room and it’s a new skill. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: So, you get on the bench-press bar and
the bar starts going like this. Or, God forbid, you grab a couple of dumbbells
and the dumbbells start wavering. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: I saw it, right? It’s not pretty, but we all do it. I did it myself as well. One of the things that happens by training
through full range of motion is, you learn how to integrate multiples muscle groups. The ones that are all responsible for performing
those compound lifts, to get them to execute the movement properly. You do that through more and more strength
as you build it up, and coordination. So, full range of motion is great for that. Now, let’s say you have an injury. I’m a proponent for using abbreviated range
of motions sometimes to get around, and train around an injury without having to forego
training entirely. JESSE: Right. JEFF: But if you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t
be injured yet. I stress that. That’s one of the main things I’m going
to cover here, as we build down through this video. Beginners should be looking to fortify their
bodies and build a really strong base that is also fortified against injury. You don’t want to ignore the big lifts. I’ve talked about this concept before called
‘exerphobia’. Specific exercises can sometimes generate
more fear – especially for a beginner – than others. Let’s talk about some of them. The squat. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: The deadlift. JESSE: Mm-hmm. JEFF: The bench-press. JESSE: Yep. JEFF: Why? JESSE: Because, when you go to the gym you
expect to be – you expect to have a ton of plates on there and you think everyone
will be looking at you like “Oh, that kid’s benching 95?” JEFF: That’s a reality into being self-conscious. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: But I can tell you, from a physiological
standpoint, you’ve got the most weight on the bar during those exercises. Which is why we need to do them, because they
build that foundation. I’ve stressed it here many, many times before. The foundation of your strength training and
building should be around those exercises because they’re compound movements, they
utilize multiple joints, multiple muscle groups that are all contributing to the overall strength
of the lift. Meaning, they have the highest capacity for
being loaded. JESSE: Mm-hmm. JEFF: So that’s great, but through your
fear – and some of the guys that are watching this – I know the reality of it, guys. Even when I was in college I used to have
a fear of going to the weight room and attacking any of the big, compound lifts because the
guys around me were using a lot more weight than I was. You don’t want to look substandard, or you
don’t want to look insufficient when it comes to those lifts. So, a lot of times you might think “Oh,
this guy’s skipping them altogether.” That’s a big, big, big mistake. What you want to do is make sure you’re
doing those exercises, and you load them up properly with weight than you can handle. That leads us to error number three. Using weights that you cannot command. Have you done that? JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: Really? Yeah, I’ve seen him do it. Using weights that you cannot command. The issue with this is, it’s not about – it’s
not a race for a certain number, guys. I know we have strength standards and people
like to apply them, but it’s not a race to achieve a certain number at the expense
of building foundational strength, and what I call ‘true strength’. You can compensate your ass all the way to
the end of the day where you build up a number, but you’re compensating in doing so. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: And I can tell you this, when this kid
came to me – can we recreate at least a little bit of what you looked like, posturally,
when you came to me? That’s not even half as bad as what it actually
was. Jesse was kind of a mess, right? JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: He was a mess. Putting him under the bar in that condition
is an irresponsible coach. You wouldn’t do that to someone like that
because his skeletal frame couldn’t even handle the weight that I was trying to apply
to his body. And it could be a low-level weight. What he had to do, first and foremost, was
learn how to retrain his body to be better equipped to handle anything, let alone excessive
weights. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: So, what you have to do is build that
base. We spent some time on trying to correct you. And again, it’s worked for you. You have made a dramatic change, in terms
of how your posture is. JESSE: I’d like to think so. JEFF: You have. You’ve added some significant muscle on
top of that, too. But if I had let you jump in, and just start
piling weights on top of that, while I may see those numbers go up, and you might see
those numbers go up yourself; realize that it’s going to come back and bite you. Every, single time it’s going to come back
and bite you because you built up a whole hell of a lot of this compensation, and compensatory
strength along the way that would be lying about where your true strength is. So, utilize the weights that you can command
and take away some of that fear, in terms of attacking those big lifts because you know
they’re necessary. Now, we’ve also covered this topic. This is the fourth big mistake. That is relying solely on the big lifts. You cannot rely solely on the big lifts for
many, many, many, many, many reasons, guys. As someone that trains athletes and actually
is out there training athletes I’ll tell you this: relying solely on the big lifts
at the expense of worrying about some of these other things, like we’ve talked about with
posture. But beyond that, on multiple planes- JESSE: Yeah. J: The big lifts themselves – the bench-press,
the squat, and the deadlift – are simply sagittal plane movements. If you want to be effective as a human being
– not just an athlete – you’d better be able to learn how to move in the frontal
plane – which is side to side – and move in the transverse plane, too. We do that all the time. For you, as an athlete, of course it’s incredibly,
incredibly important to do that. JESSE: Yeah. On the lacrosse field I’m not in one spot. I’m moving side to side, forward and back,
and pivoting all the time. JEFF: And allowing ourselves to incorporate
accessory lifts. Just as Casey Mitchell was in here and told
us how the bulk of his training relied on hitting the accessory lifts multiple times
throughout the week, and then hitting his big, compound lifts at a lesser frequency
than the accessories. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: We do the same thing as well, guys. You incorporate your accessory lifts and train
in these different planes. The thing about it is, let’s say we’re
talking about training legs and you incorporate lunging. Just because you’re sometimes moving in
the sagittal plane on a lunge, if you’re offset loading with one dumbbell with one
side, you’re actually training the frontal plane. So, there are ways than you can incorporate
training in multiple planes that still have you moving in the sagittal plane. You have to have an understanding of this. I think it’s a great opportunity for someone,
as a beginner, to expand their knowledge. Learn as much as you can about training, so
you can become more effective and more diverse when you do hit the weight room. JESSE: Right. JEFF: It gives you an opportunity and appreciation
for these things. I call this “lazy training”. A lot of times, as beginners, we lazily attack
the exercises in the workouts we do. I covered this in a video with you before. JESSE: Yeah. J: About your approach to the Bulgarian split
squat with the single leg, right? JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: The plyo. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: Jesse was kind of coasting through that
and with just a little bit of attention and cues toward it, all of a sudden, he was putting
much more effort into the exercises, applying much more effort. His jumps were incredibly explosive. Something that is good for Jesse, with him
as an athlete. But the fact is, if you’re not prompted
to do so, beginners will often times just lazily hit their exercises. They don’t attack their exercises. They don’t squeeze the bar. When is the last time, as a beginner, when
you grabbed a set of dumbbells, or you grabbed a bar at a bench-press, you actually squeezed
it as hard as you possibly could? You’d be surprised at how much more energy
you can exert when you’re forcefully getting yourself ready to perform the exercise. Again, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I could be doing a row. If I’m going to do a row, I squeeze that
bar, I pull back on the barbell, I’m executing the movement. I’m not just going from point A to point
B. As a beginner, the biggest mistake you can make is thinking that getting to point
B is the goal of the exercise. JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: No. Performing the exercise with exceptional effort
to get to point B is what you should be attempting to do on every exercise. Maybe that will cut the number of reps you
can do short. Another thing I can say in here – and we’re
actually going to throw this in here as a bonus – stop counting. Don’t obsess about counting your reps. Perform well-executed reps with high effort
every, single time, and that will go a lot further than any half-assed number that you’re
counting in your head. Our last thing here is grip strength. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine. It leads to – off that last point – squeezing
the bar. But a lot of times, as beginners, we’ll
go out and hire a trainer. I’m not against trainers, guys. I’ve been there and know – I’ve trained
people. The fact is, people that go out and hire trainers
as beginners and then let them rack all their weights for them, get all their dumbbells
for them, put all their plates on their bars for them; they’re literally costing them
some major benefits that come from getting, and doing that yourself. A lot of us have gone through the school of
hard knocks, Jesse. Me, included. I used to train in my basement. I grew up training in my basement. I didn’t have a trainer. I took all my weights. I had the bar fall on my chest like this during
a bench-press, had to yell for my grandmother – whom I lived with – and she said – she
couldn’t hear me from there. So I had to do one of those ‘let the bar
fall and all the plates fall off the side’. JESSE: Did you do the roll-down? JEFF: I’ve tried all of them. I’ve been stuck in those situations before. But we’ve had to go and put ourselves through
the paces ourselves. The fact is, going and letting someone rack
our weights; you’re costing yourself a great opportunity to build, and develop your grip
strength, forearm strength. That’s going to set a huge foundation for
attacking these big lifts as you go. You’ll be amazed at how much grip strength,
hand strength, forearm strength will translate to your ability to lift more weight. Your ability to row more weight. Your ability to start adding more weight to
those exercises to where you can start to see the benefits as you as you go. So, there you have it, guys. Six tips here for beginners. Actually, we had that bonus tip. The fact is, you can apply them even if you’re
not necessarily any ‘ranked’ beginner. I mean, Jesse is making a transition. JESSE: Who you calling a beginner here? I had a 405 deadlift the other day. JEFF: Man, you’ve changed. JESSE: It’s the fame! It’s your fault! You made me this way. JEFF: His head doesn’t even fit in this
hat anymore. Good job on that. And over in the mid-150s now for bodyweight,
right? JESSE: Yeah. JEFF: So, he’s not the biggest guy in the
world, but he’s getting there, guys. The fact is, everybody starts somewhere. I’ve said this a million times before. I started somewhere. Jesse started somewhere. Even the biggest, strongest guys in the world
have started somewhere. The key is that you start, and the key is
that you continue. Guys, I hope this channel in its entirety
is an inspiration for your to do both of those things. Start, if you haven’t already. Continue if you are already doing so. And continue to learn because that’s what
it’s all about. If you’re looking for a program that lays
it all out step by step, the ATHLEANX training programs are all available over at In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up below. If you’re glad that Jesse is out of hiding
leave him a couple comments and a little bit of love, too. In the meantime, we’ll be back here again
in just a couple days. See ya. JESSE: Bye-bye.

About the author


  1. Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!

  2. Such an inspiration and help Jeff, thanks. I'm not an Athlene X member right now because I cant afford it at this time, but your videos have helped more than I can express. Thanks for all of your motivation and advice, this year is by far the most consistent I've ever been with my training thanks to your motivation and tips. Thanks again!

  3. Sorry this is long but I could really use some advice. I have been searching for some time for the appropriate way I can achieve my goal of getting back to a lean fit person. Back story: I was in a car accident and as a result, I had injuries and a lot of problems related such as trauma caused arthritis and other issues. I’ve had over 24 operations that also caused challenges. I have titanium in my body. I have degeneration in my joints and other challenges that make my fitness goals seem impossible.

    So, I started working out about 4 months ago and I have come a long way. I’ve lost 30 pounds, but i still need to loose 30 (I think) more. My biceps are getting large and I can feel my abs are starting to develop. That said, I’m limited on what I can do for exercises because of implants in my lower back without potentially damaging the implant. When I lift, my joints pop uncomfortably and sometimes painfully. I cannot load my spine. I have nerve damage in my left arm and leg.

    I’m desperate to achieve my goal of getting my abs, chest and basically my body…. back into great physical shape however, I really don’t know what the f I’m doing at this point.

    I get confused about so many fitness folks saying different things. I don’t know what way is up. I’m restricted and so I do things that I can do without inducing unreasonable pain then I see videos that appear to say I’m wrong. I do workout to the point of pain. I allow pain because without it, I’d feel like I’m not making progress. I lift until I just can’t anymore (lift to failure). I do cardio to the point I’m drenched in sweat and then keep going.

    I guess, can a guy ravaged by a drunk driver/red light runner actually get back into shape and achieve a desired physique or am I stuck?

  4. Grip strength is a must. You can increase your pullups and bar dips count significantly. Talking from personal experience.

  5. good video.. and you can continue here 😉

  6. i watch some of your videos, I'm very happy for you but this type of lifestyle looks really boring. I'm really bored, is this even living.

  7. Do you have any video that will be able to
    Let me know where should I start from in gym, refarding lifting the weights, and building muscles. I do some excersises for months and I Lost weight but I do not know where and how to start from, regarding lifting the weights. I never did that before and would like to know where to start from, but I do not see any of your videos describe that, I mean step by step.

  8. Error 2 is so true! I pride myself on being a distance runner. Because I was a runner I did not feel that led day was important. Until Jeff taught me otherwise of course. I have been working on my legs for about a month now and I still only squat 95 lbs while I'm benching 180 lbs. I was embarrassed because I went from hanging in the respective weights to doing wimpy wights. Ya just have to grow a pair and get over it.

  9. Thank you Jeff for all your guidance and teaching in training, I’ve learn something new every time I watch one you and Jessie’s videos!!! I’ve been doin many of these mistakes and I will have to keep re-watching this video to get it right!!! Thank you again!!

  10. LOVE Jessie, LOVE Jeff. Just started getting my nutrition right, it was a fucking embarrassment before seriously. Buying a program ASAP! I've watched a lot of your vids and other peoples vids about you and you are the REAL DEAL. Like giving me hope man, thank you.

  11. Maybe that posture is my problem. I look like that bad posture picture! But I used to do squats, with lots of weight. People said my form was great. But it did end up hurting my back and my neck, possibly permanently.

  12. Hi Jeff, First off, I’m a new subscriber and I love your videos, I really feel like you give accurate advice in a sea of false information, so thank you for that! I’ve been wanting to start working out and get in shape for a while now and as I started to make time and find motivation again I found your videos. The biggest obstacle for me as a complete beginner is knowing where to even begin, what exercises should I do and how to do them? I’m in my mid 20’s and never seriously worked out before. Most people would probably call me “skinny” but I actually do have a big gut that I want to get rid of. I don’t want to become a huge hulk, but instead tone up, gain some muscle and lose my gut and gain a six pack. One of the big things I’m paranoid about is doing an exercise wrong and potentially giving myself an unnecessary injury. I would love to see more beginner friendly videos from you. So far your information has been amazing and generally easy to understand, I would just like to know where to go as a complete beginner like myself. Hope it’s something you consider or if you do have videos like this and I’ve just missed them then if you see this comment and direct me to the right videos I would be so grateful. Once again thank you for giving us your time and effort into making these videos!

  13. I'm surprised you didn't takle the issue of hurting yourself for big lifts. I'm a beginner myself with your typical nerd posture issues, wich I've been working on for a month with great results, partly thanks to you !
    However, I try to do deadlifts. I had a coach help me get the posture right, I lowered the weight so I could be sure to do it right, but regardless, my upper back takes everything and hurts like a bitch after even 10 rep. So now I'm shying away from deadlifts simply because I don't want to injure myself.

    Anyway, great vids, very helpful as usual.

  14. Thanks Jeff, love the videos. I've learned a lot and avoided a lot of mistakes cuz of your channel. Thanks for the science!

  15. I’m slightly overweight but I was in shape in high school due to sports and I didn’t even notice. Now I’m trying to get back in shape and at first I was like yeah I’m scared that everyone will look at me. But I thought you know what? Everyone starts something. What’s even more ironic is that the bigger guys only bench they never hit squats or deadlift they usually skip leg day and in about 2 moths I’m outweighing them because they also skip it. Don’t be afraid everyone starts somewhere

  16. always respected jesse, 405 pretty good too. Not insanely strong, but definitely a solid lift at mid 150s.

  17. Any tips on training with an umbilical hernia? I have 180 lbs to lose to get to my goal and I've been combining cardio with machine training to isolate ares to avoid placing unintended pressure on my hernia. I would like to incorporate free weights but I'm hesitant because of my injury

  18. Just wanna say you made me to made myself to train like an athlete, jeff and jessie are my big motivation to continue, thank you

  19. Much thanks Jeff for your words of encouragement, as always you know how to tell hard truths, but that's what I want. I just joined a gym across the street in my new house but I opted out for a trainer as I'm going to follow your wisdom in training. Big shout to Jessie, he's also an inspiration as I had that same posture as he had before he started training. Take care. Thomas , Scotland.

  20. Thanks man. joined a gym yesterday. went for the first time today. Can relate to a lot of this. Will be going back in a day once my arms feel normal again. This took a long time to write.

  21. Mother dear Teresa…… When did Jessie get so bloody ripped?????
    I hate Jeff even more now 😠😠

  22. Hey Jeff,
    Could you insert an English subtitle to your videos as there are alot of foreigners follow you beside I can't keep up with the American accent, so I miss alot of valuable information during the videos.
    Thanks for your motivating videos.

  23. Newbie here out of my basement, I've learned a ton from these videos. Things I just never thought of. Thanks for all you do!

  24. Anyone have any suggestions on adding even more grip strength? I have such weak tendons that my thumbs can appear to be "double jointed" which isn't actually a thing. However this does cause me problems lifting weights. Thanks for the input.

  25. How about progressive overload with #3? Shouldn't you try to grab a higher weight to "shock" your muscles?

  26. I was always avoiding the squat and when i tried once i could only lift the bar without any plates on it. It was very embarassing and frustrating. I was sweating like a pig and i just wanted to find a hole to put my head into.

  27. I have round shoulders, bad posture, tilted pelvis, belly and no strength in the legs. I also cannot touch my feet or the floor. I wish i could train with a specialist like you to fix all those issues. Its very hard for me to know how to create a routine that would include all the exercises to fix all the issues I have. What should I do?

  28. I re-watch this video countless times to remind myself that everyday is a beginning. Though my body is old and broken, doing the work, with some mindful intelligence and intensity, is half the battle. Staying motivated and positive is the other for me. Appreciate the channel and the knowledge recieved by it. Thanks Jeff!

  29. He spanks Jesse when he fails. He’s a brutal coach and verbally abusive. He was only lightly humiliating him there. You can see the shame is jesses eyes. Totally joking I know YouTube is scary these days.

  30. hey jeff. big fan. i want to ask. how can i start workout as a rugby athlete? what to focus on as a beginner, and how and what to do so i can progress from time to time? because rugby require strength, power, agility and speed, all of it cos rugby is an all-rounder sport. so i hope you can reply my comment so i can become better athlete in proper way

  31. I feel so much better having trained in my basement when I was in my 20s, the bar pinning me to my bench and shouting "MUUUUUUM!!!!" Knowing Jeff has done this also 😂

  32. I'm a woman and I love watching Jeff's videos… They're super informational… When I get to the gym I walk in and say "what's up guys Jeff Cavaliere from" lol

  33. Using weights you cannot command is the big one. If you want to do 40 on the dumbells, but your body's yelling "Asshole, no!", go lower. Even if you get laughed at (you won't); better to be "shamed" than hurt.

  34. These really help. However I personally am stuck at PF due to budget. So I am stuck with doing squats and bench with a Smith machine…..what is everyone's opinion about that? I do alternative exercises most of the time because I am just not a fan.

  35. The instructor said to not worry about the weight and the number of reps just bring the intensity…..then at the end my man says he dead lifted 405 🤦🏽‍♂️ tomorrow I’m going for the 405

  36. I cringe multiple times when i go to the gym and see ppl doing dumb shit but i have learned to leave them alone since no one appreciates being given advice

  37. Listen to this man, I found this video after I caused a back injury with bad posture and inadequate back to front muscle ratio doing bench presses

  38. ????????????? First you sayed you should not do more then 40 Reps , because then you would train for endurance , so you should do 3-5 Reps with heavy weight , 3 times .

    But now you sayed , you should not use heavy weights ?? What are u on about, these are misleading informations

  39. The hardest part of this as beginner is working out alone. I have Jess body so it’s at least encouraging. Thank u.

  40. This video was really helpful. I’ve been working out since middle school and even coached at some point but I found I’ve made some of these mistakes myself.

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