Recently at the gym, I've seen a few new boys start attending as a little group. Upon entering the gym, all four of them headed straight towards the barbell racks with pre-set weight on them. Each of the boys took off one barbell and stood right in front of the mirror. They proceeded to do bicep curls for the next thirty minutes thinking that somehow give them the Greek god physique they all crave. This made me realise all the mistakes I made, as I can't judge someone by my values, but I can judge them from their own. They don't know better, there is a lot of BS and misconceptions told by the fitness community that reflect in the approaches beginners have to improving their body. Here below, I've explained the five things a lifter must know before starting in the gym, otherwise be prepared to waste months and if not, years in the gym.
BEGINNER MISTAKE #1: They head straight to the weights without warming up.
Most people who step into the gym skip the necessary warm ups and instead just do warm up sets for their lifts. However, some exercises require a certain level of joint mobility and muscle flexibility. A prime example of this is the straight bar deadlift, as there needs to be a sufficient level of hamstring flexibility in order to complete reps safely without injuring your lower back. Other heavy compound lifts including bench press and squats all require some level of hip and shoulder mobility for the lifts to be completed effectively and safely. Click the links below for more information regarding a specific issue you may have.
10 Stretches For a Full Body Workout
Exercises to Improve Joint Mobility
BEGINNER MISTAKE #2: They focus on isolation movements and forget about compound movements.
Just like the situation mentioned in the introduction, the boys focused on isolation exercises and neglected the more effective and time efficient compound movements. For those who aren't aware, compound exercises target multiple muscle groups while isolation exercises only work one muscle. Examples of compound exercises are deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull ups, and barbell rows. Since we are all about making effective use of time to allow for more freedom, you can understand why we advocate for compound lifts here at adolescent ambitions. They allow you to minimise the amount of exercises you need to do in a workout and they put the body under more stress in a shorter period of time. Compound exercises are also more functional and practical movements, especially if you are in the gym for a particular sport and allow you to lift heavier weights, putting the body under more stress.
BEGINNER MISTAKE #3: They just throw weight around and fail to achieve the Mind Muscle Connection
If you're brand new to the gym, I don't blame you for the term 'Mind Muscle Connection' being unfamiliar. The essential idea is that whenever you are completing a lift, you need to make a connection with the muscle or muscles you are working so you can feel them taking the load. This is essential for compound movements when your muscles become under fatigue towards the end of your sets, when secondary and tertiary muscles start to overcompensate to lift the weight. In order to establish the connection, throw your ego out of the door, lower the weight and control the entire movement. Lowering the weight will allow you to focus more on the form, instead of just shifting the weight from point A to point B in the fastest time possible. This is why some people fail to grow their chest with bench press as they aren't able to properly control the weight they are using and there is often a lack of this mind muscle connection (and also due to them bouncing the weight off their rib cage). Next time you do any exercise, think of the muscle that is being worked. Feel the complete stretch of the muscle and the complete contraction of the muscle, the tension of the muscle. It is necessary to use a full range of motion in a controlled manner, otherwise you'll be targeting the wrong muscles and you're wasting energy.
BEGINNER MISTAKE #4: Lack of Consistency and Progressive Overload
If you haven't heard of muscle confusion, then thank God because this is one of the worst tactics to stimulate muscle growth and track your progression. Entering the gym without a plan of exercises, sets, reps and weight is setting yourself up for failure. In order to see whether or not you are genuinely improving in the gym, you need to be following a consistent schedule. This includes not missing sessions, a weekly plan, exact sets, reps and weight as all of these are vital to tracking progress. If you're reading this article, then you're probably aware of the scientific method, as in keeping all variables the same except for one thing, the independent variable. The independent variable should be volume of your exercises. Volume is the weight multiplied by the reps and the sets. All other variables need to be kept the same if you want to be able to track your progress. This includes maintaining identical form, repeating the same workout routine week by week and not varying up the exercises you are doing so that no workout is ever the same. How can you possibly set gym goals without having a reliable and accurate way to track them? Remember that the key is consistency and over time, you need to be adding on either more weight, completing more reps or more sets.
BEGINNER MISTAKE #5: They neglect nutrition
Don't even bother going to the gym if you think it will get you abs or make you massive, if you choose not to also change your diet. Diet is the only way to change your body composition, to either lose weight or to gain muscle. Don't fool yourself by going to the gym, spending 30 minutes doing nothing but abs and then expecting to somehow have a 6-pack at the end of the session. Changing how your body looks is a very slow process and requires a change in an individuals calorie consumption. The only way possible to gain weight is to eat MORE calories than you put out and the only way possible to lose weight is to eat LESS calories than you put out. If you eat more calories than you exert, your body will have a caloric surplus and will look to store the calories as either fat or muscle. The opposite applies to when you are in a caloric deficit as when you consume less calories compared to what you exert, then your body looks to alternate sources of energy to use up. The body will then start burning through your fat stores in order to maintain its normal bodily functions and these are the essentials to changing your body composition. However, make sure that whatever you are eating is organic and healthy, as you still want to be eating foods rich in nutrients that aren't simply 'empty calories' like junk food and sweets. Maintaining high levels of protein, about 2g per kg of body weight (about 1g per lb) is also essential to maintain, grow and repair your muscles.
If you've made it this far in the article, I appreciate every minute of your time and I hope you learnt something valuable that you can take from this and implement into your world. Now stop consuming and start getting some shit done.