All of us were beginners in the gym at some point in our lives. But learning and improving is what separates a pro from an amateur. I know how hard it is in the beginning. Not really knowing what training regime to follow, every person you ask gives a different advice and not every one of us can afford a personal trainer.
But there are a few mistakes that almost every beginner makes at gym. Learn from them and avoid these mistakes and soon you will find yourself among the “big boys”.
The first thing you must learn is how to actually do an exercise. I have seen how most beginners are shy to ask around. They see a muscular guy doing an exercise and they try to copy it. When you try to replicate the movement, you end up with improper form and there is a chance that exercise is not made for you. A better way is to ask the person next to you to tell you a proper workout.
Perform a set and ask them to see if you are doing it right. Join the gym where you already have acquaintances. Search for training regimes for beginners online. Use the help of the trainer at your gym and if you can afford it, hire a personal trainer. It is always better to perfect your form. An improper form will throw your body off balance and can also result in injury. Don’t be shy, everyone is willing to help as they too were once in your place.
Now that you are finally on the road to fitness, you should know that the normal diet you had won’t cut it. Now, you spend 45 minutes to an hour working out. Burning calories, torching fats, sweating from head to toe and pumping muscles; to compensate for all this hard work you need to increase protein intake and over all calorie consumption. Unless your goal at gym is to lose fats, in that case you have to stay in calorie deficit. Use an app to monitor your macros and micros (“My FitnessPal” is my personal favorite app).
Also, remember to take multivitamins and plenty of water.
Now that you are at gym breaking muscles, you have to give it time to repair. Sleep is crucial for this. Most of the growth and repair of the body is observed while a person is sleeping. It is also the time when the body is flooded with growth hormones.
So if you want to see those muscles growing or torch a few pounds of fats, sleep is not an area of sacrifice. Note that when I say sleep, I mean six to eight hours of continuous night sleep. A few hours of snooze during the day just won’t do.
I have seen how beginners just enter the gym and start off with whatever the routine they are following without ever warming up. I have also seen how some do a few pushups and pull-ups and call it a warm up. They have to learn that warm up is a very important part of a workout. It prepares your muscles to lift weight, get the blood flowing through them, steadily increases the heart rate and more importantly it prevents from injury. Take at least 10 to 15 minutes to warm up. You can do it by jogging, performing air exercises like air circles or by pushups, pull ups and using machines with very light weight.
Many amateur also confuse stretching with warm up and hence incorporate stretching as a warm up regime. They should know stretching pre-workout is a welcome sign for injuries. The joints are still stiff and you try to work them up. Do not perform stretches before a workout.
Another common mistake beginners make at gym is not performing cool-down exercises. Once they are done with their training, they just leave the gym. Little do they know, their workout does not finish here. They have to perform cool-down exercises before leaving the gym. Perform simple contractions and stretches for five to 10 minutes post-workout.
The goal is to slowly bring the heart rate and the body temperature back to normal. Stretching after a workout also makes the joints flexible and it pumps more blood in the muscles, giving it a better pump and more nutrition to grow and repair.
We all want to see the results but you should understand that nobody just builds muscles or loses fats overnight. In an attempt to see results overnight, most beginners tend to over-train. But over-training will just push you two steps back. Using heavy weights in the beginning or training for more than 5 hours a week will just result in over-training. You see, we build muscles by causing micro trauma to the muscle fibers, but when one lifts too much weight, they cause more damage to the muscles than the body can repair, which results in scar formation and permanent muscle damage.
Training for longer period of time releases the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body due to which instead of fats, protein is used up as the source of energy, resulting in less muscle buildup and more fat storage. A smarter way is to start off with light weight and gradually make your way up to heavier weights in time.
The most important thing to remember as a beginner is to be consistent. As aforementioned, it takes time to see the results. I know it is not easy, especially the first few weeks when you are too sore to perform simple tasks, let alone workout. But if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Dedication is the most important thing you need to get the body you desire.
Do not give up on yourself, work hard, be regular and I promise you will see the results coming very soon.