The gym can be quite an intimidating place, especially for someone who hasn’t completely found their feet in the sweat-filled building. If you’ve already made it to the gym it’s important to maximise your time there efficiently. To do this, it’s best to identify some of the most common mistakes beginners make and avoid them.

Fitness guru Ronald Abvajee seven common newbie errors:

Trying spot reduction

“No matter how many crunches you do, that belly fat is not going to go away without regular cardio and healthy eating,” Abvajee says.

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Picking the wrong weight

Abvajee says that it’s important to find the right weight so that you’re not wasting your time or over-exerting yourself.

“If the weight’s too light, you won’t place your muscles under enough tension to have any meaningful muscle-building effect. If it’s too heavy, you won’t be able to perform the exercise with perfect form,” he says.

Sticking to your favourite moves

While it’s comfortable to engage only with the exercises and machines you’re familiar with at the gym, Abvajee says that this could be a hindrance to your progress.

“The body needs variety if it’s going to keep growing muscle. Routine leads to stagnation, so consistently introduce new exercises to your workouts if you want to keep seeing positive results,” he says.

Swinging your arms too much when doing barbell curls

Abvajee tells us how to do barbell curls correctly.

“Swinging will lead to back pain, not bulging biceps. You need to hold your body still, tuck in your elbows and raise and lower the bar slowly through your elbows’ full range of motion,” he explains.

Doing cardio in the “fat-burning zone”

“Have you seen those charts on running machines that say ‘fat burning zone’ and encourage you to run at below 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate? Forget them,” Abvajee advises.

“While it’s true that at that pace, a greater percentage of your calorie-burn comes from fat, you burn so few calories in total that you’d need to run for hours to get any realistic benefits. Do short, intense runs to burn fat effectively in a short space of time.”

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Socialising more than you exercise

Abvajee warns that gym-goers should be conscious of the time that they spend socialising at the gym versus actually working out.

“This is a problem that many of you might have if you gym with friends. You might find yourself spending 20 minutes talking with the friends you run into and then only 10 minutes on your actual workout,” he says.

Lacking intensity

“Many of us go to the gym and simply move into cruise mode. We do some light workouts that don’t force us to break a sweat or we run on the treadmill at a rate that’s comfortable for us,” he says.  “Sure, it’s important not to push yourself too hard too fast, but if you keep yourself in that workout comfort zone, you’re never actually going to improve.”