When you start out exercising it’s really important you have a basic idea of how you are going to execute your goal.
Knowledge is always power in anything you do, so I strongly suggest you get some tips on how to get going in the most valuable way. If it’s at all possible I would strongly recommend using a reputable trainer – even for a short time – so you can learn good form, start with the right program, and make sure all your questions are answered when it comes to diet and supplements.
It may seem like an absolute luxury having a ‘PT’ but if you are serious about this and want to see a difference, avoid injury, and get on the right track, this is a fantastic investment for yourself.
Progression is really important in order to keep motivated and to be fulfilled. There are many myths and constant mistakes people make when undertaking an exercise regime, so I thought today I would touch on a few and help to keep you moving in the right direction and maybe get some of those myths out your head.
Firstly, don’t be afraid to challenge your muscles.
In order to progress with toning, strength and appearance, your muscles need to be worked. This means using enough weight in the workout and using progressive resistance to keep moving forward.
If you do a working set of 10/12 reps and you stop at 10, and that set was fairly easy, you aren’t training hard enough. This is where you need to be honest with yourself. Keep going until you feel the burn and can’t do another rep or better still, add weight. That last rep or two should be near impossible to complete.
Over the course of a few weeks you should be upping your weight to keep pushing the muscles and of course there are always training systems like drop sets and forced reps to gain those results quicker.
Don’t be scared, your body will know its ability as you push it. That final rep/squeeze will make ALL the difference.
Practice good form.
Lack of progress could potentially be due to bad habits you’ve developed in the gym. What is key to remember here is that poor form does not stimulate the muscles you have set out to work.
It’s a common sight, and I’m sure we may all be guilty of doing this in the past where we prefer to stack the weight on a bar, but in turn lack the correct form. The truth is, this will do nothing for your results/goals in the long term so it’s best avoided now. Take the time to learn good form, and learn to feel the exercise in the working muscles.
It’s a really good habit to focus on the muscles you have set out to work and really concentrate on connecting the mind to that. For example, when doing a lat pull down, concentrate on that muscle as you bring the bar down. Pull with the lats when the bar is at your chin, squeeze and hold before slowly raising the bar back to the start.
This type of form and mind connection will really help with results. This may take some practice and effort, but keep going and before long it will come naturally.
One thing to remember if you are designing your own routines: stay with basic, or compound exercises as these allow the use of more weight and work several muscle groups at once, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, power cleans and bent rows etc.
Always base your routines around these movements. It also makes sense to work the bigger muscle groups first when you are fresh and strong, and end with smaller muscles that require less energy to train hard.
Fuelling is vital.
What you need to remember here is that in order to lose fat the best way is to regularly eat smaller meals that keep your metabolism active. Many of us are guilty of thinking that in order to ‘lose weight’ we must starve ourselves, but I cannot stress how much of a myth that really is.
The eat well plate is a reminder of what percentage of nutritional values you should be getting into your diet. A third of your daily food should consist of fruit and veg, a third carbohydrates, 2-3 portions of protein source, and 2-3 portions of dairy/milk. Saturated fats and refined sugar should be kept to a bare minimum.
By starving yourself, not only will you lose muscle, it will slow down your metabolism meaning it will infact be harder to lose weight. Keep your diet with low fat, low sugar, plenty of portein and get that thought out of your head instantly that ‘no food = weight loss’.
Making sure you DO NOT overtrain.
This took me a while to get my head around. I went through a phase of wanting to train everyday and sometimes twice a day. Truth is that doing too much is actually detrimental to results.
Contrary to what you may think, you actually grow when you rest. The fact is the muscles you are working so hard in the gym need a chance to recover. If you are isolating muscle groups in your sessions – for example, you only train chest over the hour you are working out – you should give the chest a good rest (4-5 days) before exercising that muscle area again.
It may feel like you are being lazy, but trust me when I say you will feel stronger and see shape/definition a lot quicker than if you were to train again the same way within 48 hours.
Do not be scared to have a rest day. For me, Saturday is part rest (meaning I may do some type of cardio for 20-30 mins), then Sunday is my day off and I eat what I want for lunch. Give this a try.
Fat to muscle…
I am guessing you may have heard some folk say that they have turned their fat into muscle. Now, it’s not the worst thing in the world to say, but what’s important to keep in mind is that actually that process hasn’t taken place.
What has happened is that their body composition may have changed. The fact is, you lose fat and build muscle but it’s impossible for one to turn into the other. They are two different types of organic material.
Another way to keep that progressive frame of mind going is to not let myths about age put you off about what type of results you will get. We all know the body changes over time and of course as we get older it sometimes feels harder keeping tight, toned and trim, but truthfully you can sustain it. Your muscle will not just turn into fat.
One thing that will never change when it comes to keeping fit and looking after yourself is that it requires commitment, self respect, hard work and the right choices. Your body, skin and mind will thank you for it.
I will always state to any of my clients that we need to keep goals realistic. So set the goal and get to work and remember this is an ongoing journey which will always need a little attention over time.