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8 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Training
Exercise, weight training and specifically muscle building isn’t rocket science. Whilst it is true to say everyone responds slightly differently, there are some general ‘go-to’ rules that will help maximise the results from your efforts.
Here are the things I wish a 16-year-old me had known all those years ago which would have certainly sped up my progress.
Learn, apply and then enjoy your results:
1. Not all exercises are created equally
I wish I had known not to waste time with bicep curls, pec dec and calf raises. I would have gained muscle a lot quicker, if I knew that the cornerstone of training consists of compound movements.
2. You do not put on muscle without enough food
You need to be eating a calorie surplus to add muscle (in 99% of cases). Without enough food, you may get stronger but your muscle won’t get larger. Do not be scared to eat and do not be scared to lose a little definition.
3. Training isn’t where you grow
More gym time does not equate to better results. In fact, quite often it can be to the contrary. Natural athletes require far more rest and recovery. That is where the results come from. The gym is ONLY the stimulus.
4. It is almost impossible to be excellent at both strength and endurance work
You can become good at both but to excel is very difficult. The reason for this is that they both require the body to make contradictory adaptations. There are ways to be good at both, but elite, unlikely!
5. Supplements are not required
The clue is in the name. To supplement an already good diet. This can give you an extra few percent. Too many people get suckered in by their favourite athlete promoting certain products as if it is the short cut to success. Let me tell you, it is not. Good food with enough calories, protein, fat and carbs, combined with the correct amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals is the foundation of any successful nutritional plan.
6. Progression and consistency are the key to results
Many people ask me for a magic plan as if I hold the closely guarded secrets for muscle gain. I wish I did, but I don’t. The truth is that many different plans will work for you but what is a constant in all these plans is an element of progression (in whatever guise) and of course the need to be consistent over the long-term.
7. You don’t have to eat protein every 3 hours
A popular gym myth that I am sure we have all heard before. Do not pay attention to this! Your muscle will not waste away 3 hours and 1 minute after your last meal. Don’t stress the small stuff. As long as you have a standard 3 meals a day, and hit your daily protein goal, you will progress as a beginner/intermediate.
8. 95% of the social media physiques you see don’t look like that 95% of the time
Okay, this was not a problem in my younger days as there was no Facebook or Instagram (showing my age here), but I know it is a problem for a lot of the young people out there nowadays.
For some, it may be motivating, but for others it can be off putting if you really believe these people are constantly looking that good ALL the time. Remember this, I know a lot of these people and I can tell you right now, on a daily basis they look a lot more like you and I than they may care for you to know.
In this industry, there are a lot of photo re-cycling showing a level of conditioning/muscularity the person currently does not hold. In some cases, there may be a lot of unhealthy practices that go into their specific appearance, which if we knew about, we would not consider them to be as fit and healthy.
The key to this point is to remember, the only competition is yourself. Do not compare yourself with anyone else. If you strive to be the best you can, you will be happiest in the long-term. Mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Well, there it is. I only wish I knew these 8 points sooner but that is the essence of life, constantly learning as we go and always aiming to improve ourselves.
Please do not hesitate in asking any questions you may have about these and be sure to tune into my live Q & A where I will be discussing these points in more detail.