The 6 Biggest Exercise Mistakes Beginners Make!

Mistake # 1 – Not Exercising with Weights (resistance training)

Even Dr. Kenneth Cooper…the father of aerobics…finally had to admit that aerobics is not the one-and-only solution to true health and fitness that he originally thought it was. However, according to the latest survey by the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, over 80% of women still forgo resistance training in their exercise programs.

But why is exercising with weights so necessary?

Obesity and excess body fat have reached epidemic proportions in America…and the rest of the developed world is quickly catching up. Please notice that I never use the terms ‘overweight’ or ‘weight’-loss.

If you just want to lose ‘weight’, then donate an organ. You will ‘weigh’ less afterwards and at least someone else will benefit from your ‘weight’-loss. However, if you are trying to lose excess body fat, then that’s what you need to focus on. All fad diets and many exercise plans result in a loss of muscle (a bad thing) together with a less-than-satisfactory loss of body fat.

Clinical Obesity

Clinical obesity begins at 20% body fat for men and 28% body fat for women. So it doesn’t matter what your ‘weight’ is. It’s your percentage of body fat that is important and the BMI does not measure this. So if you weigh 150lbs. with 30% body fat, I don’t care what your BMI is, you are technically obese. If you weigh 150lbs. with 15% body fat, you are in great shape. Overweight? If you weigh 150lbs. and the chair you want to sit on will only support 100lbs., then you are ‘overweight’…for that chair.

There are only two things that use a significant amount of energy in your body. One is your brain, which uses approximately 500 calories a day to function…although I would question this amount of brain activity in some people…many politicians for instance. The only other significant energy burner you posses is muscle.

Basal Metabolism

Basal metabolism is the amount of energy required to maintain vital functions in your body when you are at complete rest…keeping all your cells alive and organs functioning.  Your basal metabolism accounts for up to 80% of your total daily energy (calorie) expenditure. And guess what most determines your basal metabolic rate? That’s right…firm, healthy muscle!!!

Not only will your basal metabolism get a boost from more muscle but, the more muscle you have, the more calories every exercise you do (including aerobics) will burn. So having more muscle is a win-win situation.

OK…so the only efficient way of permanently raising your basal metabolism is to add more muscle. Ladies…are you afraid of looking like Arnold Whatzizname? Don’t be. Instead, look at female gymnasts. They are very strong and very lean, but I don’t hear people accusing them of looking like men. Still too muscular for you? Then take the rhythmic gymnasts (the ones who use the hoops, ribbons, etc) as examples. Other than skin, bones, and internal organs, their weight is composed of about 85% healthy, supple, form-giving muscle, yet no one accuses them of looking like a bodybuilder.

I have one last observation about exercising with weights, but it’s a very important one. The amount of calories that you burn during exercise is pretty minimal. The vast majority of the calories burned because of exercise are burned in the hours after you have finished exercising. And the length and amount of this ‘after-burn’ are determined by both the intensity of the exercise and the amount of muscle used during the exercise period…not by the amount of time spent exercising!!! So remember…you can exercise hard, or you can exercise long…but you can’t exercise hard for long.

There are many other positive health issues related to resistance training, but I will leave it at this for now.


Bobby Dickson is a former competitive swimmer, diver, trampolinist, NCAA National Champion, and Olympic gymnast. He was a professional acrobat/stuntman for 33 years, has weight-trained for more than half a century, and has been personal training for more than 4 decades. He has advised World Champions in several different sports and is specialized in performance nutrition, body fat management, and development of optimal health. He is the author of "Cut Thru The Crap of Exercise and Fat-Loss Nutrition" (5 star rated on Amazon). His programs are geared to achieving maximum results, in the shortest time, with the least amount of other words, efficient, effective (Quality) exercise. Visit Bobby's website, CTTC Health Publishing!

20 thoughts on “The 6 Biggest Exercise Mistakes Beginners Make!

  • October 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Great post!

    I think there are many people out there making at least a few of these mistakes. I myself tend to forget about number four sometimes, about the resting periods between sets.

    I’ll try to remember it during my next workouts.


  • January 19, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Hello, Robert.

    This article has open my eyes that i have realized that i have made a mistake in doing my exercises in the past. Since i’m pro “fitness training”, i did not take consideration doing the weight training. Would be too late for me to start again?

    • January 21, 2011 at 4:00 am

      Thank you Willie. I’m glad my articles are reaching some people. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “pro fitness training” but I encourage everyone to incorporate weight training into their fitness programs. True fitness is a combination of resistance(weight)training,conditioning(aerobics), flexibility, and an intelligent nutrition program. And no, it is not too late to begin. Or is there something that I do not know about which would prevent you from beginning weight training now?

      Good luck on achieving your goals!!!

      Live Well,

  • December 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm


    True to my declaration, the book is on its way to my door. I will definitely review it for you and the the world for that matter. I also broadcasted your post to a lot of my fitness friends and recommended the book to them on the basis of your comments ad credentials.

    I’ll be keeping a watch out or your next essay. Thanks for the additional advice and the compliments.

    I track a lot of the things I do in my workouts routines and try to do a good job of the exercises I incorporate: Form counts if for no other reason than proper control is a good measure of agility and balance. But in the general scheme of things I have only one over-weaning goal: Be Fit Today! Whatever it takes. I have no desire to live to a ripe old age but I do have a desire to be useful and productive and MOBILE for how many ever years I’m going to be here. That’s what drives me – well, that and this really attractive redhead who takes up space in my life.

    But even though my focus is always today I am truly looking forward to reading your book over the this month and putting it to work come January when I finish up my P90X sessions.

    Best of luck to you and have a happy and healthy Holiday Season!


    • December 4, 2010 at 4:54 am

      Terrific attitude Richard. It’s not how long you live…it’s HOW you live long!!! This is something us “more mature” exercisers may understand a little better than the “kids”, but some of them will catch up to us eventually. By the way, my ‘space-mate’ is a blond.

      Two of the reasons that you have been so successful is that you track your workouts and you are aware of the importance of exercise form.

      Without proper feedback, you don’t know where you have been, where you are now, or where you are going. This is why you see many people in the gym who look exactly the same now as they did months, or even years, before. If they kept objective information, they would immediately see that what they have been doing is not working…and then do something about it. I still have workouts that I did more than 40 years ago, with notes on what was working and what was not, etc, etc. I have photos too, so that I can see all the changes I have made in my body over these many years. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is.

      Exercise form…if you are not doing the exercises properly, you are not working the muscles you think you are. One of the most extreme examples of this was a certified instructor I know whose triceps got sore…from doing a back exercise!!! Figure that one out. It even took me a while.

      And…always looking for something better, something that can improve what you are now doing, something to make what you are doing more effective and/or more efficient, something to challenge you in a different way, etc…these are the things that will keep you motivated and enthusiastic!!!

      So thanks again, keep up the good work, and a happy & healthy Holiday Season to you and yours too!!!

      Best Wishes,

  • December 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm


    Several people have referred to your bio, which indeed is impressive. Hard to imagine that anyone could survive that many years as a pro-stuntman without knowing quite a bit about staying safely fit and healthy.

    I loved the post. No punches pulled; no sermons preached. Just straightforward not-so-common sense from an expert who in all likelihood is covered with the callouses of his experience.

    I have become a big fan of the site that Doug and Jarret pulled together here over the past few months. I think it’s one of the most informative health and fitness blogs on the web and will rapidly be vying for first place. I am really glad that Doug enticed you to be a contributor.

    At 64, I am a late comer to the idea of leading a fit lifestyle, something I had failed to embrace until a couple of years ago. I got into the gym but about the best I can say about my early attempts is that I was consistently there. Several months ago I realized I had plateaued and became determined to do something to change that. The result was Ia plan that includes three days a week of weight training with a PT; an extreme pilates class and 30 minutes of HIIT weekly and P90x Lean thrown in for good measure six days a week. I have become quite adept at burning calories but the 2.5 hours a day I’m investing six days a week is beginning to feel a bit chaotic. I have begun to question the efficiency of my approach although I have to say I’m otherwise enjoying it and I am getting results in terms of both a reduced BF level and increased muscle mass.

    As soon as I finish this reply I am headed to the nearest bookstore site to oder your book. My current program comes to a formal end in mid-January and I’m looking forward now I think to putting some of your plans to work.

    Thank you so very much for the information!


    • December 3, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Hi Richard,

      Thank you for the very nice things you say about both me and my article. I have also become a big fan of Doug and Jarret. We need more people like them in the health & fitness world…people dedicated to providing the truth and honest information to interested people out there.

      I applaud you as well for taking responsibility for your own health & fitness and for seeking out professional advice as well. I read your FB info and I am very impressed with your philosophy of life. Wonderful!!!

      I also applaud your self-discipline in sticking with a 2.5 hour per day, 6 day per week workout schedule. Spending this much time is sometimes necessary for reaching a particular goal. However, it is (usually) not necessary once you have reached your goal. Maintaining superior fitness is much easier and less time consuming than initially attaining a superior fitness level. The problem is that most exercisers don’t know how to efficiently and effectively exercise, so they wind up quitting when they can no longer sustain their multi-hour long daily workouts. What a shame!!!

      So, yes, I am sure that I can help you to fine-tune your workouts so that you will be spending much less time exercising, but still achieve the results you are getting now…or maybe even better!!! That is my specialty, getting the best results with the least amount of work, in the shortest amount of time. Don’t get me wrong…I am not saying that you will not be working hard (you definitely will be) but that you will also be working ‘smart’.

      Thank you for your trust in me and for your support. You can go to my website, , for more information on myself and my book. There are also direct links there to Barnes& and (5 star rating) to order the book.

      I wish you great continued success. Please let me have your honest opinion of my book when you finish it and keep me posted on your successes using my programs.

      I am also working on another guest post for Doug, so keep checking his site.

      Live Well,
      R.E. (Bobby) Dickson

  • November 18, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Hi Diane. Thank you for your very kind words. I would never presume to second-guess an on-the-spot personal trainer…especially without knowing your goals. If you are seeing the (realistic) goals that you set for yourself with this program, then it is working for you. If it ain’t broke…don’t try to fix it. If and when it ceases to work well, you will need to make some changes. Your Personal Trainer should be able to help you with this. Your swimming sprints can also be HIIT if done correctly. It will just have different advantages and disadvantages to land-based HIIT exercises.

    My book, “Cut Thru The Crap of Exercise and Fat-Loss Nutrition”, follows the same style as my article. But it contains so much practical information that I couldn’t even begin to summarize it here. Applying the Principles of Quality Exercise & Nutrition in the book will allow you to get the best results out of any exercise program you may choose. This is not a blatant plug for my book. It is a recommendation for a very helpful reference book. If you go to and read the information there, you can decide for yourself if you need the book, or not.

    I will also be submitting more guest posts to Hive Health Media.

    Thanks again for your support Diane.
    Live Well.
    R.E. Dickson

  • November 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Started a super slow heavy weight lifting program a few months ago — direct one on one with a trainer on specialized machines — what do you think of this type of program? I know I need to get HIT training in, too. I do master swim classes — with lots of sprints…

    what else should I be looking to incorporate?

    Love your article — very helpful and explained things well without being too technical.

    thanks for writing it.

  • November 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Robert, this is an excellent article. I’m glad that Doug asked for your contribution. I’d be interested to hear about your workouts with the HIIT, Resistance training, and cardio all in 45-60 minutes? That sounds like an intense workout session.

    • November 15, 2010 at 6:13 am

      Thank you for you interest and your kind remarks Dr. Morrow. They are intense, which is why they should only be done infrequently. The 12 week program in my book consists of 3 short, but intense, workouts a week, unless you really have a lot of body fat to lose. Then, of course, more exercise frequency and a somewhat different approach to the program is needed. However, this adaptation is also addressed in my book: “Cut Thru The Crap of Exercise and Fat-Loss Nutrition”.

      I will be sending you an email soon.

        • November 18, 2010 at 4:58 am

          Thanks Jarret. I foolishly neglected to mention my book in my author’s bio. I will have to change that with my next guest post.

          As you now know, you can go to my website, and read the entire Preface to my book, as well as more bio material on myself, some testimonials from athletes and educators, and even a section to help you decide if you need my book or not.

          Thanks for your support. I love your supplement blog. I was in that business for a couple of years. You and Doug are doing a terrific job of spreading honest information. Keep up the good work.

  • November 11, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    A very informative breakdown on how to exercise correctly. I’ve started interval training since I’ve been on the EET plan and am really enjoying it.

    My speeds and times would be laughable to a real athlete but they are a big improvement for me. I used to simply walk and I was very fit for walking. But the highstep intervals I’ve been doing are really building up the muscle – particularly in one leg. I suffered several knee injuries years ago and hadn’t realized how weak that leg had become. My other leg was compensating for it.

    Great article and I feel I know more about how to avoid mistakes in my exercises.

    • November 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      Thank you Dawn. I’m happy that you have discovered the wonderful world of interval training and are enjoying its benefits. Another of its benefits is that it automatically adjusts to your personal situation. All-out will be a different speed for everyone, but it is still “all-out”. You are only competing against yourself.

      I am also glad that the interval training is rehabing your injured leg. Good for you. With all my injuries from gymnastics and professional acrobatics, Quality Exercise is probably all that is holding me together!!!

      Thanks again for the wonderful compliment and keep up the good work!!!

  • November 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I have been a Facebook Friend of Robert’s for a while and I have been nagging him to write an article for the Hive for a few weeks now.

    So y’all can thank me for this article.

    • November 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      Thank you for the opportunity Doug!!!

  • November 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Hi Robert

    Very informative post and then I read your bio! You seem to be very well qualified to write this. There is so much contradictory information and I figure that if I ear healthy and do regular exercise I will remain healthy. Thanks for sharing.

    • November 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Patricia. Your comment shows that you have the basics down already. The next step is to make sure that you are doing the right kind of exercise…the right way…and have a good knowledge of exactly what “healthy” nutrition entails. This will assure you of the best results, with the least amount of wasted time and effort.

      Please check out my book, “Cut Thru The Crap of Exercise and Fat-Loss Nutrition”, on my website. You can read the entire Preface there…FREE!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *