Advice to someone new to the gym
I am coming up to the 6 year anniversary since I bought my first gym membership. It seems like the longest journey of my life and not one I can see ending soon. This has recently lead me to reflection upon the person I was all of those moons ago. Of course the natural progression of this has lead to me looking at the mistakes I made, as well as the successes which lead to me sticking out and seeing results whilst friends dropped out one by one. In this list I compile 5 things which I believe are most important for novices starting the gym and those I wished I found out earlier myself.
- Focus on strength:
In order to gain in muscle, particularly as a natural, it is important to be strong in the primary compound movements. In my personal opinion these important movements would include the bench press, incline press, overhead press, deadlift, pull-up, bent over row, and the king of them all- the squat. Each work out should start with at least one of these depending on the body part being targeted in that workout. In order to do this a new starter to the gym could follow a specific programme which is tailored for strength. As a general piece of advice I would recommend start each workout with 5 sets of 5 reps on one of these primary movements (I chose the bench, squat and deadlift, depending on the workout) and over time as you become more accustomed to these results you can alter the number of reps and sets (most likely decreased reps and increased sets).
2) Keep Going
The biggest obstacle to people making progress towards their physical goals is the fact that they give up. I have had many friends who came to the gym with me as beginners, however many of them don’t look any different, and this is because of the fact that almost al of them dropped out early. There are many different excuses people give in order to forgive themselves for giving up on their gym commitments. However if you are able to continue over time, going to the gym becomes a habit which is deeply ingrained to the point where 3 years in its almost an impossibility of stopping all of a sudden. There is a wealth of data out there about habit formation, but my personal advice is committing to a short workout (can be as little as 30 minutes) and committing to only a few times per week (perhaps only twice). Over time this habit becomes ingrained and you are able to then add to it as you progress (I now train for 2 hours 6 days per week, but only started at 1 hour for 4 days a week)
3) Learn form those around you
When you first step into the gym there will be many people that have been training for years, and with those years of grind and sweat and tears they have accumulated knowledge. Although there is a lot of people out there that train for years and still train poorly, if you absorb as much information as possible from as experienced people as possible you are likely to pick up a lot of good information and by using the average from all the people it will often be good advice. This can be put alongside the information you get from online sources in order to form your opinion. However if this is a life time habit (which is what you should be aiming for)
4) Body part frequency
Old bodybuilding mantra dictates that you should only train each body part one time per week (often looking along the lines of Chest, Back, Shoulders, Arms, Legs). However more and more information is accumulating that this is simply incorrect. It is looking like training each body part several times per week would be more optimal. I personally choose to train each body part 2x per week, however many people have shown to make incredible progress when training legs up to 6 days per week. I would recommend aiming for 2x per week per body part and then adjusting based upon goals, volume and time constraints.
5) Keep learning
There is so much information out there about physical training that it would be impossible to digest it all (the amount being produced is more than what can be consumed by any one being). This will eventually lead to you establishing your own opinions on training and what you truly believe to be worthwhile advice (since there is a lot of contrasting advice out there). I also believe that this will lead to you becoming more invested in this hobby and certainly lead to increased motivation. Imagine watching an in depth video regarding chest training and then skipping your scheduled chest workout? Exactly the chances become so much slimmer.
This is 5 tips that I would recommend to any body who is just starting the gym and is wanting some basic advice from which to build upon.