A new year, a new commitment to live a healthier life. Your goal: to finally look like that one friend who’s always working out.
So you’ve got a gym membership, and maybe even your friends or family decided to join you. Whether it’s a small local gym, a YMCA, or a big place like Golds, it can feel overwhelming when you first step foot inside. Or maybe you’re not at a gym at all. Perhaps you bought your own weights so you can train at home.
Maybe you motivated by seeing someone lifting other worldly amounts of weight while making a lot of noise and you want to be like them. Well I’ve been there and done that.
Here are some tips I wish I had when I first started my journey with the weights.
Tip 1 – Be Mindful of Proper Form
The number one thing you want to keep in mind is proper form. Doing an exercise incorrectly can, over time, develop injuries and imbalances. Not to mention that doing an exercise correctly is more efficient and will allow you to lift more weight. Take a look around the forum here, we have multiple videos and discussions about exercise form.
Now I do not want you to be shy about doing the big compound lifts, like squats and deadlifts. I don’t care what someone at work who can’t lift 50 pounds said. If you don’t already have an injury, these big lifts performed correctly give you the best results for your time spent in the gym.
Tip #2 – Stop Killing Yourself
That brings me to my next point. When I first started training I sought no guidance, went to the gym five days a week, and killed myself maxing out the weight on every single machine. Even as a brand new lifter, I could have had much faster progress.
Ever heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none?” That’s sort of what happened to me for a while. I promise if you work the reps, grease the groove with big exercises like squats, bench press, deadlifts, and overhead press, you will progress fast and efficiently.
How many days do we go to the gym? It all depends on your circumstances. If you can only go twice a week, maybe just on the weekends, that is perfectly ok. Generally no more than 4 times per week is going to be best, especially since you will be sore for a while starting out.
Tip #3 – Find a Program and Stick To It
Is there a certain sort of program to follow? There are hundreds out there, and when you decide on one that you enjoy, stick to it! There is no use in jumping to a different routine each month like some people suggest. These people are weak. Make your muscles grow bigger and stronger by adding reps and weight.
There are many options, such as working the entire body each session, upper body and lower body splits, or even individual muscle groups. I would like to encourage you to take a look at the workouts we have here at Muscle and brawn. We also have an online community full of people from all walks of life with different goals. Check us out, ask questions. We learn from each other.
And please don’t feel embarrassed if you see people who you think look better or are lifting a lot more. Everyone starts somewhere. No one is making fun of you for not being as progressed as they are. We’re glad you are joining us! And don’t hesitate to ask questions!
Tip #4 – Maximize Your Time Away From the Gym
Now lets look at another part of the equation: how to maximize your fat loss and muscle building progress when you are NOT at the gym.
Sleep. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like sleep. But life is tough. I know people who work and lift off a mere 4 hours of sleep each night. But if you can, 7 hours of sleep each day goes a long way in making sure you are rested enough to tackle the edition of working out in your life. Try to squeeze in naps if you can. A few 30 minute naps each week goes a long way over time to keep you feeling refreshed.
Food. Should you eat any different since you started working out? Well that would certainly depend on your goals. Remember that in both your diet and workouts, small tweaks over time are easier to track what works and what doesn’t as opposed to drastic, sudden changes.
Keep track of what you eat for the week. Start with how many calories you get in during the day. If your goal is fat loss, you may make it a goal to eat 200 calories less a day and adjust over time. Drink more water! Stop it with so many Cokes and the extra plate of desert and the Captain Crunch (it is good I know). But seriously, I used to drink 6 cans of soda a day. I weighed 230lbs at 5’8 as a 16 year old boy. That was nearly one thousand extra calories of sugar-water a day.
So just cutting out a little junk food, and you might be surprised a how many extra calories you end up with. I tell myself all the time that my money is better spent on good whole foods than junk.
Let’s consider another side to it. Let’s say you are a naturally skinny person who wants to put on some muscle mass. And don’t worry ladies, you are not going to look disgusting by building muscle! Anyway, now that you are working out, the body needs more energy. So you are going to have to take in some more food and protein. Remember, small changes over time.
And do not be afraid of fats! Natural fats from meat, dairy and nuts are vital for the body. Whole milk, heavy cream, full fat butter, egg yolks, it’s all good. When the fat is taken out, food is processed, loses nutritional density, and what flavor the fat added, has to be replaced by something else, like sugar.
What I want to leave you with is: don’t stress out if you have a binge moment, don’t get in enough protein one day, miss a workout, get less sleep, whatever. You need to have fun with getting healthier and exercising.
No one is perfect. Don’t sacrifice time with your family and friends just to get in that one last workout or that extra protein or to abstain from a good meal around people you enjoy. Life is supposed to be fun.