When I started training all I ever thought about was what body part I was going to target and what exercises I was going to do. It was not until I started to consider the importance of recovery and sleep as an integral part to my gym program.
The way I feel compared to only a few months ago is astounding and I simply have more energy; I am stronger in my lifts and look better. To put it simply, sleep is where muscle repair and hypertrophy takes place.
I now look at my body as a building so when I train that is a wall being demolished and when I sleep that wall is being built again a little stronger each and every time. Take sleep and recovery just as seriously as training and you will feel, look and perform much better.
We have all been told that training and feeling sore the next day with delayed onset muscle soreness, DOMS is a good thing.
Beginners need to carefully gauge their workouts, as they will sore regardless due to the response to stimulus.
If you discover that you are still just as sore as you first started approximately two years ago, then this is a sign that your training principles needs much tweaking. This may be a symptom that your body has not adapted effectively and needs recovery.
Please train smart and safely by stimulating the muscle fibres with good blood flow are great indications of a good workout. For beginners, you are going to have DOMS so do not be alarmed, as this will decrease over time through the natural adaptation process.
We have all seen the person at the gym that has put way too much weight on the bar and proceeds to try lift a weight that is way too heavy and clearly unsafe.
Ego lifting is common with the younger generation who are new to the gym environment and perhaps the most common, yet unsafe thing that you could do in the gym. I was lucky when I first started training that I was surrounded by more knowledgeable people than myself so ego lifting was a big no-no.
The risk of injury is dramatically increased when performed. Injury is the fastest way to slow progress and can affect you motivation to train
When I am in the gym I see people performing slow-controlled repetitions with appropriate resistance is way more impressive than someone performing ego lifts.
The risk greatly outweighs the reward, do not be silly and think about the movement of the exercise if you cannot do it with good form, do not risk it.
My pockets have come to terms with the realisation that training supplements should be the very last thing you should worry about.
When I first started training it was always about what protein powder I should buy and what was the protein to carbohydrate ratio, closely followed by which pre-workout had more of a fat burning effect.
None of this matters, as you can obtain all the nutrients you require from food rather than supplements. We must remember that they are simply designed to “supplement” your daily intake of nutrition, particularly if you are deficient in any areas of your diet.\
Training, diet and recovery are the most important aspects to achieving results in and outside of the gym. If you are in a good financial position, sure having a protein powder for when you exit the gym is a convenient way to consume food without having to eat chicken breast, which is not that all enticing post workout.
We have all seen that person at the gym that looks great. Perhaps you envy their arms, glutes; perhaps their chest. This is where you start to compare and question yourself to them.
Trust me we have all been there, and I still do it from time to time. When you first start training it is really easy to fall into the trap but these people have been training for quite some time, and you do not know what they are doing outside of the gym environment.
What makes training great whether it be for performance or aesthetics is that no one will perform or look like you. You are who you are and that is what makes you unique, you are one in 7 billion so be thankful and work hard and look and perform to the best of your individual ability.
There are exercises that I recommend to people that I believe are important in a client’s training program but that is a “recommendation” and not a “must do”. For example, if I recommend squats to a particular client if they want to develop their legs? Yes, do I tell them they must do it? No.
The reason for developing hypertrophy/muscle growth is because you can still stimulate the muscle and achieve micro-tears of muscle fibers with unconventional movements but there is no blueprint. If you enjoy an exercise that is safe, you do it with good form and stimulate the muscle who says you cannot do it? The most important thing is that you enjoy it and it does its job over time.
Now it can be intimidating to ask questions in the gym, particularly when you are just starting out. When I first started training I was lucky that I was in a supportive environment full of people who knew more than me and could answer my questions.
I recommend going to the gym with someone that knows more than you and who can guide you for the initial phase of a training program.
Gyms have personal trainers that have extensive knowledge on training and exercise, make an effort to approach them by asking them a question or two if they are not working with a client. After all, it is part of their job to assist on the gym floor.
Stress can be one of the biggest killers of results and progress that I can think of. Stress distracts you, increases your risk of injury, which could further impact your training schedule and affect your consistency of training.
I have always looked at training as a stress reliever. However, stress can also greatly impact your sleeping schedule and your quality of sleep, which as we know from point 1 is incredibly important. I understand it is easier said than done, as life in the modern world can get in the way sometimes, however when you are training in the gym you must put away everything except training. Ask yourself the question, “what am I here to do right now and what I am stressing about can wait till I am done?”
Which diet is best? I see this on the gym floor, hear this amongst members, and get asked this question all the time.
My response is always the same; the one you are going to stick to.
We all want and have our own goals when it comes to training. I am not going to say to a 30 year old man that has a beer belly that they are to eat nothing but chicken and asparagus for next 10 weeks. Firstly, it is unrealistic and as a fitness professional, I am simply not allowed to according to my scope of practice.
Some of us do not want to be 5 percent body fat composition with veins and striations showing. They are actually a minority, where most of us just want to feel better and look healthier.
Maintaining a diet where you are not allowed anything you actually like where you cannot socialise with friends and you are eating the same 6 meals every day is unrealistic.
On the other hand, if you want to compete in a bodybuilding or fitness show then this is a different conversation to be had.
When I first started training I was surprised by the progress that I made during the initial phase of my training regime but the dieting was difficult. Dieting too hard, too early, restricting yourself too much can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Keep it clean, keep it simple, and let yourself enjoy something every once in a while you that will ensure that you adhere to eating this way for the long-term. This will prevent you from rebounding back and forth every 3 months, which can negatively affect you mentally.
This is the most important point of all. Enjoying something means you are going to stick to it over time. The FITT Principle does exist for a reason where, Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Time of exercise will achieve results.
When I first started training I was just training with weights 3 days a week, over time I got a little bored of the same workouts and asked one of the trainers how I can help become enthusiastic again. I was encouraged to always modify or change my routine/program every 2 weeks to keep things fresh.
I took this as an opportunity to learn about more exercises and techniques and branch off into my own style of training. It seems revolutionary at the beginning but you come to soon realise that this is a fundamental aspect to training.
Enjoy training, enjoy the results, enjoy the failures, enjoy every aspect of training both physically and mentally and I believe it has shaped who I am today. I do not expect people to have the same level of enthusiasm when it comes to weight training, as you could be just as enthusiastic about Yoga, Cross Fit, Boxing, Dance classes, Olympic lifting anything that gets your heart racing.
ENJOY IT and if you are not, find something you want to try or mix things up the best thing you until you discover what works for you. Do not be afraid to try new things and see what happens, but please enjoy the process and learn to love it, as you will benefit more than you will ever know.
Author – Mark Moy
Fitness Embassy® - Enable Motion Trainer