We all make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. Believe it or not, a lot of seasoned lifters tend to forget these five things too, so maybe a little refresher course is needed for everyone.
1. Establish A Strength Foundation By Focusing On Compound Movements!
When you step into the weight room for the first time there are just too many options to choose from and it can become very overwhelming. Barbells, dumbbells, machines, bodyweight exercises, bands, cables the list goes on.
But the weight room doesn’t have to be intimidating. As a beginner, you just need to focus on building a strong foundation, grow your major muscle groups, strengthen your tendons and connective tissue and increase your work capacity over time. Now, the best way to do all that is simple and it’s by utilizing compound movements in your routines.
If you’re unfamiliar with this term, compound movements are exercises that train more than one muscle group at the same time and are also known as multi-joint exercises. For example, an exercise like a triceps kickback will only isolate and work your triceps during a set. But an exercise like a barbell bench press will train the entire chest, triceps and shoulders at the same time during a single set. So, as you can already see, compound movements will build more overall strength and muscle mass much faster than isolation exercises. They can also help prevent asymmetries and muscle imbalances as well.
2. Proper Form & Full Range of Motion Are Vital For Muscle & Strength Growth!
Listen, when you’re a beginner, you do NOT need advanced weightlifting techniques yet. Cheating reps, drop sets and super sets are all advanced bodybuilding tools and they’re used by advanced lifters to bust through plateaus. But when a beginner tries these techniques, their bodies will not be able to handle them just yet which either leads to an injury, or much slower progress.
What you need to do as a beginner is to stick to the BASICS and this means applying proper form and full range of motion to every single exercise. This will allow you to establish a solid foundation, build your mind-muscle connection and most importantly, it will ensure that you do not get injured. Remember…whatever range of motion you’re not training in, you’ll be weak in! Master proper form first, and then we can talk about more advanced techniques that will take your physique to the next level!
3. Don’t Underestimate Rest Days
The third thing every beginner should know, and honestly it probably should’ve been NUMBER 1, is don’t underestimate rest days! This is because most people think that they’re growing when they’re in the gym but the fact is that your body is only growing when it’s repairing itself on rest days. Muscle growth occurs in the 24 – 48 hours AFTER training. I think this is also a good time to reiterate how important EATING is on rest days as well. A lot of people do not eat well on rest days because they think they only need to follow their macros properly on workout days for muscle growth. Well, that just isn’t true.
Also, as a beginner your body may not be able to recover from continuous abuse which means you really shouldn’t work out every day. Sometimes LESS IS MORE. Try to rest at least 1 to 3 times per week and don’t feel bad if you skip a gym day, because it’s probably going to do more good than harm.
4. Nutrition Is Just As Important As Training (If Not More!)
Now OK, yes, as a beginner it should be very easy to see gains because your body has never been trained before. But that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and get away with it.
Also, it goes much deeper than just calories and macros. You have to consider vitamins and minerals as well which is why JUNK FOOD doesn’t equal more gains during a bulk. Eating McDonalds every day might help you get enough calories and protein for the day, but it’s not quality food. For NATURAL Athletes, eating junk will make you look like junk. Period.
Also, as a beginner you don’t need a lot supplements. A simple protein, multivitamin, creatine, BCAAs or fish oil is a great place to start, but a lot of people go nuts and buy everything the dude at GNC tells them to. Always remember that no amount of supplements can fix a trashy meal plan! So before you start spending loads of money on supplements, get that meal plan straight first. Use, but don’t abuse! Enhance your meal plan with supplements but don’t depend on them to replace your crappy eating.
5. Building Muscle & Transforming Your Body Takes Time
To put it simply, you need to BE PATIENT. As a natural beginner athlete, you can expect to put on about 20 – 25lbs of muscle in your first year as long you’ve optimized your training, eating and resting. Now I will say that again, 20 – 25 pounds of muscles in your FIRST YEAR!
But the problem is that most of us are very impatient and if we don’t get huge after 2 months of training we think there’s a problem… Gains take time, plain and simple!
There’s a process involved when building muscle and strength and it’s a consistent cycle of train, recover, and grow. Also, since you can only grow muscle in the 24 – 48 hour window after a training session, you can imagine it takes time to start seeing gains. But once you do, you know you’re doing things right.
Another thing is that as a beginner, you’re probably going to be able to add muscle and lose fat at the same time, which means you’re going to be a completely different person after the first year is over. What I mean by this is, you may be 150lbs now but in a year or so you could be 160lbs, having lost 10lbs of fat and gained 20lbs of muscle. So be patient, train hard, eat right, and as always…get your mind right!