Starting your exercise journey can be overwhelming. There is so much information available and you can be self conscious about how you look or your knowledge level. The good news is that everyone has gone through the same process at some point or another. These 7 tips should help you take the first steps of your fitness journey.
Don’t Let Others Influence Your Training
I see this mistake manifest its way into a lot of new lifters. I often see new lifters trying to impress their friends or other people at the gym. Usually this results in people loading on more weight than they can lift with good form. This results in not squatting to full depth, not bringing the bar to your chest while benching, or having your spotter lifting more of the weight. Ultimately, this is more damaging in the long term. As an experienced lifter, I can honestly say that nobody cares how much you lift if the form is bad. For someone new to exercise, I am way more impressed with good form than with heavier weights. It may be frustrating to see someone who is getting stronger at a faster pace than you. However, it’s important to keep in mind that exercise is a lifelong journey. Lifting with bad form will limit your progress and can lead to injuries.
I also see this manifest in people following exact routines from influencers or from the strongest people at the gym. This is a mistake that i made when i started weight lifting. I took the fitness schedule for one of the biggest guys at the gym. If I wasn’t so easily influenced by others I could have found what worked for my body from self-experimentation and healthy skepticism. It is important to understand what you are training for and that everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for you. Learn to listen to your body and adjust your exercises accordingly.
Building Muscle and Losing Fat is Simple
It is a simple process to build muscle and lose fat. I’ve seen a lot of social media influencers make it more complicated than it has to be. When it comes to losing weight or building muscle, it seems there are hundreds of best methods out there. However, all this information can make it hard to truly grasp what is important and what is not important. I was once told if you can’t explain something in a tweet, you probably don’t understand it. To build muscle you need to do compound movements mostly in the 6-12 rep range with good form. To gain weight you need to be in a calorie surplus and a calorie deficit to lose it. Finally, you need to be consistent, continually challenge yourself, train hard, have fun, and eat well to see results.
Although it may be fun to try different workouts and different diet plans. It is important to remember what actually is driving your progress forward. This correlates with not letting others influence your training. You don’t have to overcomplicate it.
Genetics can be a reason that some beginners become discouraged when they start exercising. Some people assume they don’t have the right genetics for building muscle or losing weight. This causes them to give up before they even start their fitness journey. However, genetics just means we all don’t start on an even playing field. You should compare your current physique with your starting point and not with anyone else’s current physique. There is nothing wrong with using other people as motivation. However, it is important to understand that even if you directly copy a diet or fitness routine, you might never achieve their same physique. This can lead to loss of motivation over time and negative body image feelings. When you have a goal, focus on your progress by looking at where you are and how far you’ve come.
Your Physique Will Look Different based on Lighting and Time of Day
This point emphasizes that you should not judge your progress on an hour to hour basis. Our body fluctuates in size throughout the day or even the month. It is important to gage your progress over a longer period of time. Additionally, you should use more objective methods for tracking your progress rather than just your mirror. The lighting in your bathroom or gym may make yourself look more toned than the mirror in your bedroom. Focusing on how you look throughout the day can reinforce negative body image thoughts and cause you to become discouraged.
When tracking your progress you should take progress photos once a month, track your body weight trends, and most importantly ensure you are progressively getting stronger in the gym over time. This will help ensure you are making progress towards your goal rather than just how you look throughout the day.
Be Analytical About Training and Nutrition
This tip ties into the previous one. Using quantitative methods for tracking your progress as a beginner is very import to understand what is working for you and what isn’t. Every beginner lifter should have a log book or app where you keep track of your weight and reps from week to week. Tracking your macronutrients or at least your food intake is the best way to know what you are putting in your body. This will help you regulate your diet and workouts so that you are in the best position to reach your fitness goals. Following a meal plan is an ok idea for a beginner, however I would suggest following a more flexible approach. This will help you understand your body’s nutritional needs. Eventually, you wont need to follow a diet or meal plan at all. Intuitive eating is a great meal or diet plan to help you understand what your body needs.
You Don’t Need Performance Enhancers to Build an Impressive Physique
A lot of people assume that they will need performance enhancers in order to build any muscle or achieve their targeted physique. This is not true at all. In fact, using performance enhancers can cause mental and physical health issues in the future. Specifically, when you cycle off and start to lose the muscle that you had previously put on. This can perpetuate the negative body image issue that caused to the steroid usage from the beginning. It is important to reach your genetic potential before you even begin to think performance enhancers. This will help you better understand how your body will respond to different training styles without the magic of performance enhancers.
Take Advantage of Newbie Gains.
Newbie gains refers to the rapid increase in muscle and strength that occurs when people with little to no previous weightlifting experience start to train intensively. Typically, these people will gain very little fat and can even lose fat while gaining a considerable amount of muscle. It is important to take advantage of these quick results, but be smart about it. A lot of new male lifters focus only on chest and arms when they start their journey in the gym. This can lead to a body imbalance and cause them to have to work their legs and back twice as hard in the future when they no longer benefit from newbie gains. It is important to train everything with balance and listen to the signals that your body is sending you.
This doesn’t mean that you have to train perfect in order to develop the perfect body shape. Everyone makes mistakes. However, if you have a well-balanced routine and are consistent, you will be able to correct any body imbalances that develop.