There’s never been a time where information has been so readily available. The internet has meant that every man and his dog can upload information – and that means we can absolutely feast on any topic we set our heart on.
When it comes to fitness, the amount of information out there is even more immense. This is an industry which taps into YouTube regularly, meaning that as well as plenty of text being available, you can watch as many videos as your heart desires to get your fix of fitness.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always good. Particularly for the rookies out there, for those of you who are quite new to training, it can be quite daunting. As well as being so much good information, there are also plenty of poor-quality instructions which mask over the truth from time to time.
This is the reason this guide has been put together. If you’re just starting out training, take a look at these seven facts that you must take in to well and truly make the most of it.
Your training will be for nothing without a proper diet
This is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions out there for beginners. Most people just starting out think that as long as they work out, everything will take care of itself.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true in the slightest. You need to combine a solid workout routine with a proper diet. If you have one and not the other, there’s every chance you won’t experience any positive results.
For example, if you’re someone who is looking to lose weight and is spending hours and hours in the gym – only to not track calories – you are unlikely to see your desired results. Firstly, failing to track what goes into your body is a schoolboy error, but secondly you will be burning so many calories that your body will be holding onto more fat than you really need (a phenomenon called survival mode). In other words, you need to tailor your diet so that you receive an adequate amount of calories to rid yourself of this fat.
Deloading weeks are essential
Particularly as a beginner, when you’re desperately trying to make as much progress as possible, it can be tempting to just work out as much as possible. In other words, you’ll ignore deloading weeks.
Let’s highlight the importance of these weeks. This is the period where your muscles and nervous system can recover. If you just keep increasing the intensity of your workouts, your progress is eventually going to be stinted.
Now, let’s look at how to carry out a deloading week. This isn’t a complete rest, it’s instead the time where you just lower the intensity of your workouts. This might be by lowering the amount of sets, reps or even the weight – just to allow your body to recover and accelerate the progression later down the line.
At this point we should probably add that beginners don’t need to have these weeks as frequently as the guys who have been training for years. This is simply because the latter group trains at a higher intensity, and their body therefore needs a bit more recovery.
Long bursts of cardio aren’t needed to stay lean
The advice years ago might have been to engage in hours and hours of cardio in a bid to stay lean. Now, this isn’t necessarily the case.
The emergence of High Intensity Training means that this is no longer required. As the name might suggest, this involves exercising at a high intensity for short periods of time.
The benefits for this are extraordinary. It’s been found that you can burn more calories with 15 minutes of HIT training, than you can with an hour of steady running.
Ultimately, the days of running for hours on end to burn calories can be over.
Your workouts need to be varied and progressive
A common mistake is for someone to start training and then proceed to use the same training program for an eternity.
Over time, your body will start to get used to all of the exercises. Muscle memory will start to occur and your body won’t have to adapt as much to complete them. Training should always involve your body being pushed to its limits and over time, sticking with the same schedule just won’t achieve this.
Additionally, you’ll need to progress your training program. As well as changing the exercises, make sure you add to the weights regularly. A good rule of thumb is an extra 5lbs to 10lbs every week so that again, your body can push itself more and more.
It will take time to see results
You’ve started to train to improve your body image. Unfortunately, contrary to what some of the industry publications might tell you, this takes time. It’s not going to happen in weeks and in truth, it’s not going to happen in months either.
Sure, you might make progress over this time and see some visible results, but you’re not going to experience a complete body transformation – which is one of the expectations a lot of us unrealistically set ourselves.
The problem is that you will see people who experience very quick gains. The truth, in a lot of these cases, is that these gains have come through performance enhancing drugs, or steroids.
It might sound like quite a brash statement to make – but the amount of people who take advantage of such methods is frightening to say the least. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the elite athletes who use them (and then get caught). There will be countless guys in your local area doing the same and if you notice that someone is progressing at an alarming rate, there’s every chance that they fall into this group.
The trick is not to compare yourself to them. Your path is different; it’s natural and much safer. Sure, it might take longer, but don’t let this deter you.
You should always focus on a full range of motion
Particularly with YouTube taking over the fitness industry over recent years, this point has even more substance. A lot of guys have bought into the “half reps” idea – the concept that it’s better to perform half reps as this keeps tension on the muscle for the whole exercise.
Well, it’s just not true. There’s nothing better than a full range of motion – regardless of what anybody on YouTube says. Engaging and reengaging an exercise at the base of the motion provides a far more beneficial contraction for your muscles. Sure, you might not lift as much weight, but this is irrelevant as the full range of motion will benefit your body much, much more.
Don’t go overboard with your workouts
When you’re starting out, it can become quite easy to go too far with your workouts. You’re eager to progress and as such, you’ll be having extra-long workouts in a bid to make those elusive gains.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the way to go. As we’ve mentioned throughout, your body needs time to recover. After around an hour of working out, your muscles will start to deteriorate. Ultimately, it no longer becomes efficient to continue to work out.
There’s another interesting issue here as well. If you work out too much, over time your sugar levels will fall and you’ll drop into a hyperglycemic state. Ultimately, this means that you’ll be more likely to consume more calories after your workout and for weight loss principles, this obviously isn’t good news.