So, you’re a fresh-faced fitness newbie… Nothing wrong with that! Give yourself a big pat on the back for committing to a healthier lifestyle of working out and eating right. In these crucial first few weeks, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize (a lean, muscular body), and avoid these common newbie mistakes:
1. TRYING TO BE A SUPERHERO
Being new to fitness, you’re probably raring to go. You want to start training ASAP, you want to immediately cut all sugar from your diet, you want to start guzzling more water, you want to join a few online fitness forums … The list goes on. While your intentions are great, tackling too much at once can lead to becoming overwhelmed and lead to failure in the long run. Instead, ease up on the accelerator and tackle one new goal at a time. As you accomplish each one, you’ll be motivated to go the distance and see better results.
2. LIFTING TOO HEAVY
You’ve got your new workout playlist fully loaded and you’re ready to go. Those dumbbells haven’t seen anything yet, because you’re about to lift like a madman! Again … your enthusiasm is great, but be careful not to go too heavy from the get-go. If you don’t ease your way in and progressively build up to bigger weights, you’ll risk extreme fatigue or injury. Lifting too heavy can overload your body, causing damage to your muscles and connective tissues, which will mean more time to heal. You’ll know you need to turn things down a notch if you find yourself “cheating” during lifts, if your form starts to look questionable, or if you can’t meet your desired rep range. For example, if your goal is to complete 10 reps and you can only muster 6, then you need to lower the poundage.
3. TRAINING FOR TOO LONG, TOO OFTEN.
The more you train, the better your results … right? Not always. If you’re spending hours in the gym each day, then you have to ask yourself what’s really going on. Are you spending half your workout at the water fountain making friends? Are your rest breaks turning into rest marathons? While there are different opinions on the optimal time to train, many experts believe you should be in and out of the gym within an hour (if you’re weight training only) or an hour and a half (if you’re combining weights and cardio). Also, take a look at how many days per week you’re exercising. If you’re just starting out, three to four times per week is ideal. Not only will this give you a life outside of the gym, your muscles will have time to recover, grow, and get stronger in between workouts. Most importantly, remember that it’s not just what you do in the gym that counts, which leads to our next point …
4. NOT STEPPING UP YOUR NUTRITION
The role diet plays in muscle building and weight loss is undeniable, so this is one tip you won’t want to ignore. Think about it. Why spend valuable time in the gym each week, only to throw your results away by eating a steady stream of fatty, sugary foods? Training shouldn’t be an excuse to eat whatever you want. It should motivate you to eat better so you can look your best! So, what does “stepping up” your nutrition really mean? Start with high-quality protein. You’ll need it more than the average guy to help build and repair muscles, especially after training. Some good protein sources include lean cuts of meats, dairy products, and high-protein shakes and bars. You’ll also want to consume a mix of veggies, whole grains, and lots of water throughout your day. Lastly, some studies have supported the habit of eating five to six small meals per day, rather than three larger ones. The idea is that more frequent eating will help rev up your metabolism/increase calorie burning and keep you from binging on an empty stomach. Whether you choose to go the traditional route or eat more frequently, make sure you’re packing in the protein at every meal.
5. BEING INCONSISTENT
When the newlywed phase of your new fitness routine ends, hitting the gym might start to lose its luster. It’s only natural to have days when you’d rather settle in for an afternoon of watching football than to train. While it’s OK to miss the occasional workout, be careful not to get completely off track. Instead, treat your workouts like appointments on your calendar that you can’t break – like specialist appointments that require full payment if you cancel last-minute. On the same note, try to stay consistent with your diet. When your co-worker brings in donuts by the dozens, do your best not to cave to the pressure. These small sacrifices will play a big role in helping you get the lean, muscular body you deserve.
6. EXPECTING IMMEDIATE RESULTS
We all want things yesterday, and that includes more muscle and less fat. But if you’ve been told you can magically overhaul your physique in a week, you’ve been lied to. Like the saying goes, good things come to those who wait and put the effort in. (We added that last piece about effort). While everyone responds differently due to body type, weight, age and other factors, you should start seeing results within four to eight weeks. In the meantime, make sure you’ve set specific, measurable goals. Example: I want to lose three inches off my waist or gain 10 pounds of muscle in 12 weeks. If you have an upcoming event you’re working towards – like a trip to the Caribbean with your buddies – even better. That beach destination will be just what you need to stay on track. You should also record your progress and/or take pictures of your physique along the way. You might be surprised at how quickly your body has responded to all your blood, sweat, and tears in the gym.
With these six newbie mistakes – and how to avoid them – in the back of your mind, you’ll be sure to breeze through the beginner phase in no time!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.