You often read sarcastic posts about beginners who disturb the advanced trainees? You often feel intimidated when comes January around the corner, right before you get your new gym membership (again)? Well, we all went through it.
Sincerely, you have to admit that taking a year membership because it seems like a better deal, but only to go for a month or 2 is a bit ridiculous when you think about it no? Especially when you do it every year. Almost everyone that comes in for a consult in my office and admits it is somewhat ashamed but always seem to laugh at his or her predicament. However, when they see that some noticed it and that they confront them with the possible problem, its not as funny anymore. It burns them, to the core, and or they prove them wrong and go all out, or they just give up and never try again for fear of proving them right. No one wants to get burned by the same flame twice.
Nevertheless, only a few of those who try to start new resolutions and habits each year will persist long enough to achieve decent results, and maybe, keep going for a lifetime. They are not ‘’a special breed’’ like so many of them would love you to believe, they just followed protocol and learned from their mistakes. They will not become statistics and the January gym stereotype.
Most of us have learned the hard way from our mistakes with nagging injuries. Mistakes like too much training, bad nutrition or just not following the advice of the floor trainer who helped us out the first time. We must learn to walk before we run. Most will start flying only to come crashing down.
I remember training in my garage, around 11-12 years old. An old Weider lifting set with barbells and dumbells and plastic covered ciment plates. Very simple and all I could do was presses, squats and curls. I had a big fan of muscle magazines since I was 9 years old. I trained with the workouts of Francis Benfatto, Mike Matarazzo, Serge Nubret and Bob Paris which all had incredible proportions. Even if I had great results at a young age, I asked my oncle, who was a Judo Champion, to make me a great workout. To my surprise, it was benchpress, squats and deadlifts.
A few years later, being practically alone in the school gym almost every lunch hour, I still was training like bodybuilders with hypertrophy workouts from my idols. I imagined I was training with them as partners, and it was crazy workouts and routines too complicated and advanced for my experience but who cares when you are 16 years old. Two of the Phys Ed teachers where bodybuilders and I asked them to give me a workout program. Guess what they gave me? Benchpress, pull ups, deadlifts and squats.
First lesson for you, start and stick with the basics. Those very exercises, no matter how boring and gut wrenching they may seem, will give you basic strength, the strength that will support you and bring you into your old days. No one needs expensive pieces of equipment or a Globo gym like the dodge ball movie. All you need is bars, dumbells, benches, knowledgeable and motivating trainers with a great ambiance.
The ambiance has a lot to do with it. I left the big box gym for many reasons. I just couldn’t handle the bro’s who were throwing weights around to show their manliness and those who reserved the mirrored spots for their Biceps workout.
I will always remember one of the first gyms I worked in, which was called Unigym. I was 18 years old at the time and was the night manager. To this day, it was the best gym I worked and trained in. I got there around 9am to train until 11am and started my shift at 2pm to 10pm. At night, we were like a tribe and anyone who came in, newbies or experienced were welcomed in the family. Everyone spotted each other and pushing others beyond limits. It is what I want to reproduce with my Bodhifit center and by the comments of our members, WE did!
Do not get a year membership unless you have the certainty that you will be motived and happy to go train at that particular gym. The three months membership might be the more expensive option over one year. However, if you don’t like it, you’ll give them more money than they deserve for the few weeks you’ll actually use the membership. Test the gym out. Honest owners will give you the chance to try it out first.
We, old timers, have had the chance to train in truly hardcore gyms. Broken benches, old time dumbells (the big round ones) and some machines that were going to snap on the next repetition. One thing is for sure though, the intensity and brotherhood will never be matched and it was the major reason why going back every single day was not questionable.
One very important lesson to learn from the beginning is the first training principle, which is Adaptation. Adaptation is defined as an organism that adjusts to its environment. If the environment changes, the organism must adapt to survive. In fact, adaptation is considered the main trait of all living species. After a challenging workout, fatigue causes performances to diminish. The body will get stronger and adapt to the new demand. Yet, a few sessions will be needed and see an increase in strength and conditioning.
So if you think that only a few weeks will be enough to see a considerable difference and major improvement in your strength, shape and overall health, you are wrong. The first principle requires that the body adapts to the new demand and environment and its not going to take only a few weeks to reverse what you have done, or not, for the last 10 years or so. My best advice to you would be to be patient and do not rush things. This way, you won’t have to buy a new sense of humor when it will be the time to start your new habits, again.
Another extremely important principle that goes had in hand with Adaptation is the overload principle. Overloading the muscle is absolutely necessary to force adaptation. Overloading gradually the muscles is recommended at each workout. It doesn’t have to big increments. It could be a small increase from 1 to 2.5lbs or just do one more repetition per workout. Small increments done progressively will go a long way.
You may hear that increasing the weight might make you gain a lot of muscle mass (said the ladies). True, but you won’t see it. It is absolutely necessary in my opinion, and many other health professionals, to do some type of strength and conditioning and to force our body to adapt to new demands, to see progress. Losing fat and gaining a little muscle and strength will make any task look and feel easier.
The most neglected of all must be the Individualization principal. Which states that no one is the same and that we each require a personalized approach when designing our workout programs and nutrition plan. The same exercises will elicit good results for some and nothing at all for others. So the program that your friend is doing at the moment might not do a thing for you. That same friend who would try the same program in a few months probably won’t have the same results again —-mind blown—-
Many factors can influence the training’s outcome and results such as age, training age, experience and the environment just to name a few are only a few determining factors that will dictate how a program should be built and how it will be a success or not. Your goals require proper planning according to your way of life and needs.
The last principal but not the least should be to always remember to have fun during the process. A sane body requires a sane mind and spirit. Training should never be seen as punishment but a healthy habit that will bring in countless benefits. You must start your quest properly in order to make it a lifetime habit.