Brandon recalls one incident from back when he was taking weight training classes in high school that taught him the dangers of lifting too much, too soon. It involved trying to impress a pretty girl. "She was cute, so I went ahead and put my max weight on, 100kg, which was a lot for me," he says. "I felt pretty good, I felt pretty confident I could do it, then as soon as I unloaded the bar, I brought it down, and I couldn't get it back up... it was a very embarrassing moment."
He was lucky enough to have a friend spotting him, so nothing went too wrong, but Brandon is aware that "ego lifting" can cause serious long-term injury if done without proper training and technique. "It's more about getting that proper form down, and slowly progressing," he says.
Not managing nutrition
When Hudson was first training, he would do intense workouts and lots of cardio, then eating the right things, but in too large amounts. "I wasn't making any progress, and it was demotivating for me," he says. "So I started tracking my calories, tracking my macronutrients, and when I started to moderate those, that really helped me out and I saw the best results I'd ever had... Remember, just because you're eating healthy, you could still be eating too much of it."
Skipping muscle groups
It can be far too easy, says Brandon, to stick to the exercises that are familiar and easy, and skip whole parts of the body that feel more difficult or involve a greater level of discomfort. Don't be afraid to try and fail, he advises. "Failure can actually be really good for you, because you progress from there and only get better. The problem is the longer you neglect those things, the worse the imbalances start to get... down the line, it's going to be more work to catch up."
Being inconsistent, or overtraining
"Working out isn't easy, and when you've been doing it for a while, you sometimes think you need to take a vacation from it," says Hudson. "My problem was I would binge on working out, then purge myself, and that wasn't good, because I started to notice a yo-yo effect was happening. I would get in good shape, I'd get out of shape, then I'd have to work twice as hard to get back into shape." While he still listens to his body and takes breaks from time to time to allow for recovery, Hudson has managed to build more consistency and motivation into his routine.
On the opposite end of that extreme is Brandon, who says he became "addicted" to working out every day and not taking the necessary time off for his muscles to recover. "You're not actually getting the results from lifting weights, you're getting the results after lifting weights," he says. "The rest, the recuperation, that helps you get those results... Overtraining is definitely a real thing, and it can be pretty detrimental to how you progress."
Not having a plan
"Having a specific goal and a program to follow can make it a lot easier," says Brandon. "Then you can step in the gym, you know exactly what you're doing, what to do, and you can get a lot more results because of it."
Comparing themselves to other people
Everybody's fitness journey is different, and one lesson Hudson had to learn early on was to stop pursuing what other people looked like, and set his own goals which would be realistic and achievable for his own body. "You can look great in your own way," he says. "You can be inspired by them, but you're never going to be a carbon copy of them."
He acknowledges that walking into a gym for the first time can be an intimidating experience, but says it's important to remember that everybody there is working on themselves. Nobody was there to judge him. "Focus on yourself, and give yourself time to grow."
This article originally appeared on Men's Health US.