So you’ve finally reached that stage where you’re ready to make a change to your body.
There’s a million reasons why, maybe it’s to add muscle mass to your skinny frame, lose some body fat to help improve your self-esteem, get stronger for your given sport, you might need a new challenge or maybe you just want an escape.
Welcome to strength training.
You’re probably thinking “where do I begin?”
Luckily for you, I’ve put together a little guide below to help make the whole process a little smoother, to help you avoid the mistakes I made as a newbie and fast-track your progress.
What is it that you want to achieve from going to the gym?
Is it to build lean muscle?
Is it to increase your endurance and cardiovascular system?
Is it to lose body fat?
Is it to increase flexibility and mobility?
Is it to simply feel good about yourself and increase your confidence and self-esteem?
Whatever you decide, be sure to stay true to that goal and adjust your eating and training habits accordingly. There’s nothing worse than spinning the wheels and making no progress because you jump from program to program or diet to diet with no real direction. Achieve one goal and then move onto the next.
Knowing your reason why you’re training will come in handy on the days when you’re low on motivation or feeling like not training.
Strength training and lifting weights is a skill, meaning you need to learn and practise these skills just as you would if you were learning to play the guitar.
My recommendation: Take the time to learn from someone with a lot of experience who can teach you how to perfect your form on all of the main lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, pull-ups, rows, lunges).
From the moment you learn these movements, make sure you’re practising them religiously in the initial stages. The quicker you learn how to lift properly, the quicker you’ll see results and also set yourself up for a long and healthy lifting career.
‘Perfect rep, every rep. Quality before quantity’
As I mentioned above, it’s extremely important to find a program that’s aligned with your goals and then to stick to it.
The focus should be on progressive overload, meaning that over time you’re aiming to increase the amount of sets, reps or weight that you’re lifting to give the body/muscle a reason to change.
My recommendation: Spend a minimum of 6-8 weeks on your current program before changing things up.
Side note: Your program has to be enjoyable and sustainable. If you don’t enjoy it then you won’t stick to it. Figure out how many days per week you can 100% commit to training and then structure your program around those days.
The earlier you learn the importance of nutrition, the better.
For me, Flexible Dieting has been the game changer.
Calories in vs calories out, fuelling your body for performance, recovery and enjoyment.
To put things simply
-Eat 100-500 calories below your maintenance intake to reduce body fat
-Eat 100-500 calories above your maintenance to gain weight/muscle mass
-Have protein with every meal (at least 2g per kilo of body weight over the span of the day)
-Eat enough vegetables and fruits (2-3 serves per every 1,000 calories consumed)
-Drink plenty of water (more than you are now)
Possible ways of recording progress:
These are all great ways to continue tracking your progress to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Supplements are purely available to supplement your nutrition and training, if these 2 factors aren’t taken care of first then supplements won’t do a thing for you.
Here’s a list of proven supplements that I would recommend.
-Whey protein (great for convenience and helping you reach your daily protein target)
-Creatine monohydrate (5g per day, every day to assist with muscle growth and strength/power)
-Branch-chained amino acids (To assist with muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown)
-Multivitamin (In case you don’t get everything you need from your food)
-Fish oils (Great for the brain)
-Magnesium (To assist muscle recovery and sleep)
Recommendation: I currently use Swift Supplements
The health and fitness industry is forever changing, there will always be new and improved ways of achieving your goals (to an extent), which is why you should be putting in the time to question everything and learn it for yourself.
The #1 thing that has gotten me to where I am today in the fitness industry is the fact that I’m always eager to learn. Thinking you know everything is the worst thing you can do.
Consistency will ALWAYS be the key.
Consistency with nutrition, training and recovery is what will ultimately give you the results you’re after.
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