6 Things We Wished We Had Known Before We Began Lifting
Lifting weights at the gym is extremely rewarding as you not only get to let off a little steam, you also get to do something productive and see your body responding positively in the process. Training in the gym is therapy for a lot of people, and just like life, you get out of it what you put into it. If however, you were under the impression that bodybuilding and lifting in general was easy, you were very much mistaken as the entire process is hugely complex, and is a constant learning curve. Hindsight in life is a wonderful thing, but with training in the gym, hindsight can actually be a very useful tool as it can help you with future training sessions, plus it can help you educate others to prevent them making similar mistakes to you. When you first begin lifting, you will make mistakes, there’s no getting around that, but to help you cut back on these mistakes, and to realize what’s important, here is a helpful list we’ve compiled. Below, you will find a list of things we wished we’d have known before we first began lifting. So grab yourselves a protein shake, kick back, and see what you think.
Leg day is important
You’ve probably all seen the ‘never skip leg day’ memes currently doing the rounds online, but do you actually believe them? If not, you should. Training your legs is not only important from an aesthetic standpoint, it is also very important for practicality as well. If your goal is to gain muscle mass, the bigger you become, the heavier you will become. If your upper body is growing, but your lower body is remaining the same as it was before, your legs may struggle to hold your new heavier weight. This is where joint issues and pains can arise, and that is the last thing you want, especially later on in life. If you are serious about training, you must train like a bodybuilder and that will mean training your legs. Doing so will build you a symmetrical and proportionate physique, plus it will ensure your legs aren’t placed under pressure as you gain mass.
You should ditch the unhealthy habits
The clue is in the name here as surely ‘unhealthy’ habits should give you a bit of a clue. If you want to build muscle, burn fat, and just generally build the body you’ve always wanted, you should ditch the unhealthy habits. Smoking and binge drinking for example, are notoriously bad for your health, and your physique. Smoking hinders lung capacity which will make you fatigue quicker, plus it can reduce testosterone production. Binge drinking promotes the secretion of estrogen, plus as you’ll no doubt know, the last thing you want to do when you’re hung over is head to the gym and workout. The healthier your lifestyle, the more impressive your gains will be.
Progressive overload is key
When training, progressive overload training is the key to making progress, so each session try to push yourself that little bit harder. If you performed 10 reps on bench press the last time, this time aim for 12 reps, or perhaps aim for 10 reps, but with a little more weight. A training log is useful in this instance as it will help you to track your workouts so you can see exactly how much weight you’re lifting, how many sets and reps you’re performing, and how much volume you’re including. Each session you should try to push yourself that little bit harder, until you hit a plateau, in which case you should switch up your workouts. This is known as progressive overload training, and for gains, you can’t go wrong with it.
Ignore what others think and say
When you’re making a conscious effort to get yourself into the best shape of your life, there will no doubt be naysayers, and there will be people giving you poor advice. The thing to remember is that you’re doing this for you, so who cares what others think or say? You should block out the negativity and focus on what makes you happy. If people accuse you of being “obsessed” or of taking things too far, politely remind them that you are doing something positive in life and that in actual fact, you aren’t harming anybody, including yourself, so what exactly is the issue? By all means take positive advice and constructive criticism, but if ignorant people who have barely worked out over the last several years, suddenly decide they’re better informed than highly qualified fitness coaches and nutritionists, just ignore them as they will almost certainly have no idea what they’re talking about.
Cardio is also very important
Whilst your primary goal may be to look great with and without a top on, this does not mean that you should ignore cardio. Cardio helps strengthen your heart, it burns calories, it boosts stamina and endurance, and it helps improve numerous other aspects of your life in the process. Because of this, you should get your butt on the treadmill a few times each week, or go for a walk or run, and get burning those calories. You won’t eat into muscle reserves, but you will end up losing a little body fat, which will help make you look bigger and more defined anyways.
Use complete ROM
ROM, or Range of Motion, is incredibly important if you wish to build muscle and get into the best shape you can be in. There should be no half reps in your training, and if you can’t complete a full rep, the weight is too heavy, so ditch the ego and go with something lighter. Full ROM will active more muscle fibres, which in turn will lead to increased levels of muscle hypertrophy, so you basically build more muscle and look better as a result.