How’s it going guys, Benjamin here again and today I’m going to be talking about some general tips and thoughts about fitness for anyone looking to start working out, or has just started working out! I always say this - with fitness, there are multiple ways / directions to get to your goals and one or the other isn’t right or wrong. For example, types of diets, workout splits, rep ranges, types of exercises, HIIT or steady state cardio etc! These are just some of my recommendations and ways that have personally helped me along the way.
Let’s first talk about consistency!
Just like any other hobbies / sports - skiing, skateboarding, basketball, golf, etc, consistency with practice and repetition is the most important way to get better. You could have the best advice vocalized to you or have an amazing workout plan, but if you don’t consistently execute it and go through the motions, you won’t become any better or keep your progress. Same thing with learning an instrument or learning a new language. This all applies to working out, whether your goal be cardiovascular health, endurance, losing body fat, and gaining muscle. Take a look into your work or school schedule and establish a realistic workout schedule that fits around your day. It’s recommended that 150 minutes of activity per week is beneficial and will yield changes to your physique and overall health.
The next topic I would like to go over mainly applies for individuals who want to get started with weightlifting and have no prior experience. Sometimes, free weight exercises are hard to perform and can lead to injury if not performed correctly. This doesn’t apply to everyone who has just started, but I would recommend basing your workouts mainly around cables and machines to build up a base strength before moving onto free weights and compound movements (bench, squat, deadlift). Definitely don’t neglect free weights completely, but if you do use them, make sure to start with a lower weight and train your muscle memory / stabilizing muscles before advancing in weight. Free weights require more stabilization from your muscles which could be difficult / feel awkward at first. At the end of the day, one isn’t better than the other. It all really depends on your efforts and the quality at which you execute each exercise.
Machines are great because they’re extremely user friendly and run a low risk for injury. They also are set up to put your body in the correct position before the exercise is executed and usually have directions on how to perform it, and which muscle groups are targeted. It also helps you isolate the muscle. I’m not saying machines are solely for beginners - a lot of advanced weightlifters and even professional bodybuilders keep them in their arsenal. They’re just a great place to start if you’re new to lifting.
My next piece of advice is to practice mind-muscle connection through your workouts, as well as controlling the eccentric portion of each repetition. The concentric is the raising, shortening, and flexing of the muscle, while the eccentric is the lowering and lengthening of the muscle. So for example, if you’re doing bicep curls with dumbbells, the concentric movement is the dumbbell coming up, and the eccentric is the dumbbell coming down.
People often think that when lifting that it’s solely about raising the weight. However, the eccentric portion of the motion is actually the most important because more damage to the muscle cell happens during that phase. Make sure to have a controlled, slower negative to ensure maximum growth. When the muscle cell is damaged more, it recovers and grows bigger. In addition, when performing an exercise, ALWAYS make sure you feel the intended muscle work. If you can’t feel it, you might need to either reduce the weight because your form and tempo is breaking, or you need to slow down the eccentric portion of the movement.
Setting goals, staying motivated, and not overthinking it:
Let’s talk about setting goals and staying motivated. Base your goals around the SMART goal system! This is an acronym for: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.
Specific: Make your goal both clear and specific. This will help you stay on track. Ask yourself these 5 questions: What, why, who where, and which. For example - let’s say you’re currently a sales associate at a retail store. A specific goal could be “I want to gain the skills and experience needed to become the manager of my store, so I can grow my career and lead a thriving team”
Measurable: Set measurable goals for yourself to help keep you focused and motivated. Set small goals along the way to your end goal so you can constantly have satisfaction of success. For example, if your goal is to lose 30 lbs, break it off into increments of 5 lbs each.
Achievable: Make sure your goal is challenging, but realistic and achievable. It should be within your ability / skill set. For example, if you’re currently able to bench press 185 lbs - set your goal to be able to bench 225, instead of 275 or 315. After you achieve 225, then reset your goal.
Relevant: Setting a relevant goal will confirm that your goal matters to yourself. Ask yourself these questions: Is this worth my time? Is this the best time for this goal? Will this goal help me succeed, and the others around me succeed?
Time-bound: Each and every single goal that you set for yourself in life should have an end date so you can keep yourself accountable and have a deadline to work off of. This is mainly the “when” question you should ask yourself. 3 weeks from now, 6 weeks from now? 2 months from now?
I hope this article helped some of you guys! That’s all for now, catch you guys later!