Working out can be either fun or very frustrating especially when you do not see the desired results despite toiling in the gym for a long time. I have been working out for the past 2 years, a time that I have faced a lot of challenges, had a lot of fun and learnt so much. In this blog I write about the things I wish I knew before I started working out.
Take note of them and make working out more fun, efficient and even make optimal gains from your workout.
Go to the gym because you want to have fun else you will lose the motivation fast. If you don’t have fun during your workout, you’re unlikely to stick with it over a long time. I got attracted to bodybuilding because generally I love sports and I want to have a break from the busy school and work routine.
Due to the passion I have continued growing over time and I’m able to maintain the consistency despite changes in my schedule.
When I started working out I followed a lot of bodybuilders on Instagram and YouTube. I had thoughts that I was going to transform and look like them in just a couple of months. Guess what, I’m not even halfway close to how they look. There are a lot of factors to consider when you compare yourself with other people, food they eat, genetics, supplementation, number of years they have been working out etc.
You cannot expect to work out and eat healthy for 3 months, and then to be fit for the rest of your life. At the beginning you will see more gains from your workouts which will later reduce as you get more experience. There are genetic limitations as to how fast you can grow muscle. The key thing is do not make it a process, make it a lifestyle and you will witness better gains. Do not take shortcuts.
In my first months, I would go to the gym 3 times a week and every time I would hit a 2 hrs + intense workout. I would get very tired after the workout & I couldn’t do anything productive after. I also slept for few hours and did not allow my body to recover well before I went to the gym again. I got injuries especially on my shoulders some of which were due to lack of proper warm up before lifting.
I know it easy to get caught up in the excitement of the great changes that are taking place, and you might want to work out every single chance you get. Unfortunately, this will likely result in slowed progress, burnout, illness or even injury.
I recommend a maximum of 1 hour for beginners 3 times a week, allowing a recovery day in between workout days. You should also get at least 7 hours of sleep for better recovery.
This is where majority of people including myself go wrong. You have to maintain a clean, healthy and balanced diet to either gain muscle or lose weight which is not easy. The simple thump rule is you need to be in a caloric surplus (eating more) to gain weight & muscle and a caloric deficit (eating less) to lose weight and fat.
If you are serious about fitness you also need to cook for yourself. Yes, you need to prepare majority of your meals. Making a healthy and delicious meal and knowing every single ingredient that went into it opens up so many options when it comes to eating. You do not have to eat tasteless food because you are dieting. Find healthy ways of spicing your food so that you can even be able to follow your dieting plan easily.
Make your eating plan as simple as possible. You don’t have to weigh your food before eating, use the 1/3 rule which basically says when you divide your plate into 3 you have carbohydrates, fats and protein in there. Play around with this depending on your goal.
For bodybuilding (bulking) take higher amounts of (healthy) carbs – [40-60% carbs] [15-25% fats] [25-35% proteins]
For maintenance take moderate amounts of carbs – [30-50% carbs] [25-35% fats] [25-35% proteins]
For fat loss take low amounts of carbs – [10-30% carbs] [30-40% fats] [40-50% proteins]
However this can be adjusted based on the results because bodies react differently hence you should be monitoring the status of your body frequently and adjust appropriately. Eat your food in smaller portions at least 4 times a day for optimal insulin and hormone balance.
It’s not all days you will have the motivation to hit the gym hard. There are days you won’t be able to lift as much as you do but all you have to do is push yourself and keep going. Consistency is the key thing when it comes to fitness. If you miss your training day, be sure to make up for it.
A compound exercise is an exercise that involves multiple joints and muscle groups. This includes exercises such as squat, bench press, deadlift, lunges, and pull ups etc.
To keep your workout balanced, it's important to include pulling exercises, like rows, and pushing exercises, like presses. This will result in a better performance and improved overall physique.
This principle involves continually increasing or changing the dynamics of the exercises you perform to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. This can be done by increasing the rep range, increasing the weight, arranging your exercises in a different order etc.
If you're looking to improve your appearance, the main reason you may be failing is most likely because you're no longer challenging yourself. The human body will not change unless it's forced to. Once you fall into a comfort zone and the workouts are no longer challenging, you'll plateau.
Warning: Do not start lifting heavy weights before you have properly warmed up otherwise you will end up with severe injuries. Incorporate light warm up sets at the beginning of your workout to help on this.
You have probably heard of this term “do not skip leg days” but you still do. When I started working out, I concentrated more on the upper body workouts because they are easy and fun to workout. However, with time I realized my legs were not proportional with my upper body. That’s when I started working out legs more often to make them grow and become strong as the upper body (it’s still work in progress :).
Performing functional exercises, like lunges and squats, promotes stability in the knee, which makes your lower body strong and injury free.
Bodybuilding is not just moving weights from point A to point B, you have to make deliberate considerations on the way you lift the weight and perform your exercises. The most key thing it the rep ranges, number of sets as well as time under tension.
Time under tension (TUT) is simply the length of time a muscle is contracting to resist the force of a weight. The higher the TUT, the more effective an exercise is. So do not rush through your reps.
To create greater hypertrophy (muscle growth) I recommend [10 and above reps, 3 to 6 sets]. For strength gains, I recommend [2-6 reps, 2 to 4 sets]. You can mix both of these together in your workout routine.
Do not just go through the motion, make every rep count by improving your mind muscle connection.
Doing the same thing every time can be very boring and therefore you need to try and incorporate different moves in your workout. For example, if you like cardio, you might want to look into body-weight fitness exercises as well. Only ten minutes added to your routine might be the perfect complementary workout to reach your goals or to spice up your routine.
I have learnt most of the exercises I do in the gym and in my house from watching YouTube videos. There is a lot on knowledge on the internet that you can use to achieve your goals but be cautious and don’t get mislead.
Fitness is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle that you adopt. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.
I hope you have had fun reading this, if you have any questions and comments do reach out.
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