We all make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. But lucky for you, I’m here to make sure you do NOT make the same mistakes I did when I started working out. – Rob Gronkowski
The Main Reason Why Many Beginners Stay Beginners Forever
As a beginner lifter trying to reach your goals, your training schedule can get super chaotic very fast, especially if you don’t know where to start or how to establish a proper foundation.
The problem is in that most beginners are usually very excited and eager to see quick results and at the same time they’re constantly bombarded by fad articles in fitness magazines and now, more than ever, Fake-Natty YouTubers which inevitably leads to unrealistic standards and goals. As a result, a lot of you become frustrated by the lack of their results and desperately try to turn the tables by experimenting with a NEW PROGRAM or a new muscle-building “secret routine” every week, and finally they end up quitting fitness altogether just because they didn’t have the right tools and knowledge to begin with.
1. Get Your “Compound” On!
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.
Now having said that, you also need to understand that the number one prerequisite for muscle-building is progressive overload, which is a fancy way of saying “making progress in the weight room”. This can be done by either increasing the resistance, increasing sets or reps, or decreasing rest intervals between sets. However, you WILL NOT be able to do any of these things if you do not STICK to a program for at least 6 to 8 weeks. This is because if you start changing your program week to week, you’re always doing something new and your body has no time to adapt and grow. Therefore, it’s smart to generally follow a program until you stop making progress with it and that could be 3 months, 4 months or even up to a year.
2. Cheating Is For Losers!
You might have come across huge lifters in the gym lifting insane amounts of weights with sloppy form, thinking that this is what you should be doing. WRONG. You think you can mimic those guys and you think you can get away with it. Then after a few weeks, you either get injured or you see NO progress at all so you end up switching to another bound-to-fail technique or just quit.
Listen, when you’re a beginner, you do NOT need advanced weightlifting techniques yet. Drop sets, cheating sets and super sets are all advanced lifting tools and they’re used by advanced lifters to bust through plateaus. But when a beginner tries these techniques, their body 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. Rest Is NOT Just For Losers!
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.
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.
If you are sore all over, it’s generally a good idea to skip the gym for a couple of days. In the grand scheme of things, it will help you rather than impede your progress.
4. Eating Right Is More Important Than Lifting!
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.
And 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. 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. Get Your Mind Right
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.
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.
It’s natural to be confused when you’re just starting out. The most important thing you need to do is have a game-plan, stick with it and as always…get your mind right.