Everyone in the fitness industry will at some point say to themselves, “If I only would have known that earlier,” or “man, I sure wish I would have known that when I started.” It is bound to happen at some point, and maybe multiple times, especially with the misguided information and bro-science provided on the Internet.
With this article I’m going to provide some of those “Ah-ha!” moments so that some of you just starting can avoid them or those that may still be stuck in a funk can use a motivational kick in the booty to get back on track. These are some of the things I wish I had learned much earlier, in hopes that you can avoid making some of the same mistakes.
Programs – Any program is better than no program, period. If it gets you in to the gym with consistency, gives you something to work towards, and encourages you to beat your previous best lifts, it’s probably going to do something. This is even truer for beginners. When you first begin doing resistance training, it doesn’t really matter what you do, everything will seem to work. As time goes by your progress will begin to stall. This is when it’s important to start searching for a program that caters towards your specific needs.
When looking for a specific program make sure the creator is appropriately educated, practices what they preach, can be reached via email or phone, and can explain why… for everything they recommend. Anyone with a computer and keyboard can write a program and claim to be a professional. Not everyone can explain the what, why, where, when, and how’s of a program. That is where education comes in to play. Do the claims make sense and do the claimed results seem reasonable? Here is a structured program created by Beautiful to the Core that is specific to bikini competitors and females looking to get in better overall shape. The program was built around many of the principles discussed throughout this article. Check it out HERE.
When I first started lifting, I wasted a ton of time surfing the Internet and flipping through magazine pages looking for the program that promised the most muscle mass and strength gains. In hindsight, I spent a lot of time not making any progress because I didn’t have a program and I had no direction during my workouts. I was spending way too much time looking for the program that promised the most. Pick a program and get to it. Get into the gym with purpose and utilize a program that will push you, motivate you, and make you want to be a better you each and every workout.
Supplements – Supplements are just that… supplements for filling the gaps in a well balanced diet. If your diet is set up appropriately, you may not need to use supplements to reach your end goal. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good pre-workout and sometimes I even have a protein shake or two, but that does not mean they are necessary. No matter what bodybuilders in advertisements or your favorite athlete on Instagram tell you, chances are you are going to be just fine without their product, and in some cases better off.
I know a lot people that have kitchens full of supplements. People that have no intentions of being professional bodybuilders or athletes, people that think they need these supplements to support their 3 – 4 day-a-week arm blaster program. Many of these people could not tell you a thing about the products they are taking, what is in them, or how they even work. C’mon! Supplements are expensive and mostly unnecessary with a well-rounded diet. An Olympia level bodybuilding athlete may be concerned about the refinement method used for producing their protein powder. However, to the everyday, common gym member it makes no difference except in price.
Some of these guys I speak of spend over $300 a month on supplements. With prices as high as they are today in this fitness craze, that is not hard to do! That amount will fund more than half of a Roth IRA each year. When you are 67 years old and ready for retirement, what do you think will be more important? The Roth IRA account now worth a tax-free almost $700,000*? Or your broke self reminiscing about your glory days and how all those supplements helped get you RIPPED for that local pool party?
Figure out a well-balanced diet that accommodates your lifestyle: one that will help you achieve your specific goals and save on unnecessary supplements. Put your extra money where it matters most. Retirement accounts would not be a bad idea!
* example using a 25 year-old retiring at 67 with a $3,600 yearly contribution and average market return of 6%.
Education and Experience – Most everyone that falls in love with the gym will either pursue higher education in a health-related field, seek personal trainer certifications of some sort, or do occasional hobby research to learn more about health and fitness. Adding onto what I learned in my early days of weekend research, I chose to pursue higher education in the healthcare field (PharmD). I am fascinated with how the body works, and few people know more about human physiology than your local pharmacist. Along the way I have stayed consistent with weight training, which has added to my experience.
As my level of education and experience increases, so does my understanding that short cuts are few and far between. You will learn to quickly ignore the two-page advertisements of protein and pre-workout supplements that offer “ASTONISHING RESULTS!” or the 20-minutes a week workout program that offers a “FULL-BODY TRANSFORMATION!” Lets be for real. There is no replacement for hard work, dedication, consistency, and a life catered around making smart decisions aimed towards hitting your end goals.
-by Zachary D.
See Part II HERE