If you had a chance to, in a sense change the way you did things a few years ago, what would you change? It is somewhat of a difficult question, because everything you did, every experience whether good or bad helped you to grow, learn and become the person you are today, and get you to this point you are at in your life. Granted it could go either way in that you may have become a good or even a bad person due to such experiences, but that’s mostly up to how you view those ‘lessons.’
So we do not want to look back on life with regret but instead seek to advise younger people who may find themselves in a similar situation to what we were in, and hopefully steer them in the right direction, or at least give our opinion on what we would have done. It is still up to them to actually use such information.
The context used here will be discussed from a fitness and health perspective, on what you shouldn’t be afraid of doing and what are a few good things to focus on when starting out with weight training, since at the beginning we are all a bit afraid and not really sure what to do or which way to go.
These are all based upon my own experiences after not doing things like stretching, yoga and bodyweight exercises from when I started weight training, as well as becoming obsessed with eating too clean and relying far too much on supplementation.
Many people start working out, especially with weights and heavy weights at that, and forget to stretch. When you are young and in the gym, stretching is probably the last thing on your mind, your’e only thinking of overloading the bars with massive weights and pushing as much as you can.
It becomes more of a chore and is done for a few minutes at the end of SOME workouts or not at all. Some people stretch for 5 minutes and just move into and out of a stretch and consider it enough.
You have to be a lot more focused and pay attention to your stretches in order to become more flexible as well as to maintain it. It can be a great way to refocus your mind and a great way to wind down your training session.
Not to say that you have to get to a point where can do the splits and put your ankles behind your head or anything, but having a small degree of flexibility is quite beneficial.
So why should you bother? Stretching helps increase your range of motion, allowing you to get better at certain exercises and reach greater depths on some movements. It keeps your body and muscles flexible which can prove to be extremely important as you age, and is an important mental exercise as well. It connects your mind with your muscles and forces you to relax your mind in order to focus on a deeper stretch as well as working in sync with your breathing. Some of these techniques can also then be used within your weight training.
Following on from the first point, it’s a good thing to take up something like yoga or Pilates when you begin, especially if you get bored stretching on your own. You then can just follow the instructor and not have to worry about what stretches you need to do, since both will help with your flexibility.
If you are confused at which type of yoga to do, as you may find there’s quite a few different names or types of yoga, don’t worry about it so much and get caught up in them, just choose one and start somewhere.
There are many reasons why people don’t attend the (yoga) classes which most gyms provide nowadays. It could be that they are scared of what other people will think of them and that they will not be good enough and end up making a fool of themselves. When it comes to guys, most commonly, they won’t even venture to the side of the gym where the studio/classes are, deeming it only for the girls. You will be surprised to see how many “big guys” will really suffer in one of these classes and fail to keep up, so it is definitely not only for girls.
Don’t be afraid at all, because no one in the class will really care what you are doing, since they will be so focused on themselves and on the class, and so what if you fall, you get up. We all had to start somewhere. Remember its not an overnight process, getting better at something takes time and consistency.
Yoga and/or pilates is a great way to work on your core, balance, flexibility, as well as aiding in increasing your strength with your own body weight. They also help with exercising your discipline as well as the mastering and focusing of your mind, which can in turn reduce stress. All these aspects will spill over and translate to bettering your training in the weight room, other areas of your workouts or sports and even into your daily life.
On a side note, many times you will see people doing situps/crunches and ab exercises, with really bad form, just focused on getting through the exercise and really rushing it. Not paying attention to their form and not actually contracting their abs as they do the exercise. If you really want to learn how to work on your abs, I suggest you try out a Pilates class. You will learn the proper form and the proper technique to contract and focus on working your abdominals.
Eating too clean
While nutrition plays a huge part of achieving a great physique or excelling in an athletic endeavour, it shouldn’t rule or control your life unless you are preparing for a specific competition.
Don’t get too stressed out about what to eat and what not to eat. Something that many people still believe, is in order to look good and ripped you have to eat bland and boring food without ever enjoying tasty treats or eating out with friends. By following this stereotype, it can have strenuous effects on your mindset, your relationships, and can even have negative effects on your physique.
Pay attention to what you eat but every once in a while you can enjoy certain foods without beating yourself up about it. Do not become so extreme where if you are craving something so badly that you end up eating it, you then feel terrible and guilty afterwards. This is not the way to live and is not healthy for your mind either.
When turning your life around and starting on a new path it can be really daunting when you start to research what is healthy, what isnt, what do I eat to lose weight, are there specific foods which will help lose fat faster? Etc. etc.. Many people get so overwhelmed that they give up just as fast as they started because of not knowing where to start.
When it comes to diet and nutrition, you will learn as you go on, so realise that it is a process and a learning process at that. Be prepared to experiment and be prepared for certain things to not work for you. But remember its good when it doesn’t pan out, because you then know exactly what does and what doesn’t work.
From the early stages of your weight training it is a good idea to include and incorporate some bodyweight exercises into your training regime. Even simple things like push ups, pull ups, dips are great additions.
Many people start hitting the weights without even being able to do one pull up or push up, and they remain so focused on increasing their bench press or deadlift without focusing on the basic exercises like pull ups.
You should always try to build a great base with anything you do, and bodyweight exercises will help you do this. By adding them in addition to the weights, you will find your overall strength will increase. So remember to add these kind of exercises into your training and prioritise them to get stronger at them.
Too big of a reliance on supplements
In todays media driven world we are constantly bombarded with so many different adverts all promoting products to enhance this and that and to help build muscle faster as well as lose fat quicker and the likes. In some cases we may not even be aware that they are ‘adverts.’
It is very easy to get caught up in all of this and find yourself buying hundreds of dollars worth of products every month in the hope that they will perform some miracle on your body and take your physique or performance to that next level so much faster.
The biggest problem is that you become so dependant on the supplements that you literally freak out when one of them runs out. A lot of this is to do with your mind and they way it becomes conditioned to what it sees and what it believes.
Most of the claims on supplements are slightly exaggerated in order to market the product and sell it. You can achieve tremendous strides by just following a great diet and training effectively and CONSISTENTLY. BUT, it takes time, anything good takes time and effort put into it.
There are no short cuts, so do not jump on the band wagon and buy a whole range of products in the hopes that you will gain 10kg of muscle in a month or lose all the fat you want within a month by taking some product and doing minimal training.
Just go for it
Sometimes you think about doing something and think maybe its too late, or you don’t have time at this stage and you will see in the future, or what’s the point in expending your energy on something which may or may not last; for example something like martial arts or a sport like tennis or even yoga.
If you really want to do it, go for it, even if its just once a week.
You do not want to end up, 10 years later thinking, damn I should have done it, if only I had started back then imagine how far I would be today. Every moment that passes, it becomes that much harder to start it because you end up thinking, well if I haven’t started it yet there’s no point starting now.
Imagine doing it once a week for 10 years, that will really add up.