December 10th, 2018
beginner weightlifting

6 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Weightlifting

“Every master was once a beginner”

When you start weightlifting and resistance training, it can be overwhelming. Everyone else in the gym seems like they know what they’re doing and asking for assistance can be a little intimidating.

Here are the six principles of fitness that I wish I knew when I started weightlifting:

1. The Body Will Do What It’s Consistently Asked To Do

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in 10+ years of weightlifting is that consistency is key. Your body wants to be in homeostasis and will adapt to perform different tasks that you consistently ask it to perform.

For example, want to have a stronger squat? Squat more frequently. Want to lose body fat? Stick to a fat loss nutrition plan for more than a month. Want to become more flexible? Perform PNS stretching, static stretching and yoga regularly.

Don’t expect immediate results, as the body adapts slowly. Whether you want to lose weight/burn fat, build muscle, or learn a new skill, give it time.

It’s not uncommon for beginners to “program hop”. This is when they try a new lifting or nutrition plan for a week or two, don’t see results, and jump to a new program. Give any program you begin a minimum of 4-6 weeks to see results.

2. It’s Not A Competition

When you start lifting, typically the first thing you do is compare yourself to others. However it’s important to remember that this journey is personal. You are improving YOUR health and YOUR body to become a healthier, stronger version of yourself.

It does not matter if your training partner is stronger than you or a fitness celebrity you follow online has the most chiseled abs you’ve ever seen. Use others for positive motivation, never for body shaming.

3. Form Is More Important Than Weight

When starting out, pay more attention to “how” you lift weights rather than “how much” weight you lift. By focusing on proper form out the gate, you will be able to build strength and muscle faster and safer. Which brings me to the next point…

4. Pay Attention To Your Mobility and Flexibility

As you begin to lift regularly and start putting on more muscle mass, your muscles can become tighter and less mobile if you don’t focus on your mobility and flexibility.

When I started lifting back in high school I didn’t focus enough on my mobility and my body mechanics. I simply wanted to lift more weight. Now that I’ve built up a decent amount of muscle mass and strength, I sometimes have to backtrack and improve my mobility before moving forward.

5. Be Open To New Exercises, Programs and Ideas

You never know where your fitness journey will take you. If you start out lifting weights and really enjoy one subset of it, whether powerlifting or olympic weightlifting, focus on that!

Don’t continue doing circuit workouts or hypertrophy training or any other form of training if it doesn’t interest you. For example, if you start focusing on your mobility and find you really like yoga, GO FOR IT! Focus on yoga.

The point of fitness is not to build a better, stronger you physically, it’s to build a better, stronger you mentally. The new muscles are just a positive side effect.

6. More Sweat Does Not Mean More Results

Ever hear the expression, “work smarter not harder”? I’ve trained a fair amount of beginner clients, and one of the biggest misconceptions I had to address is that it’s not a good workout unless you’re dripping in sweat.

For example, doing tons of cardio is not the best way to burn fat. Soaking through your shirt on a spin bike four days a week will not necessarily burn off your belly fat. There are better ways to go about it such as proper nutrition and resistance training.

Before jumping in to a new workout program, do a little research. Figure out what type of program matches your fitness goals and go for it.

Image: Pond5

Evan Clark

Evan Clark is a former wildland firefighter turned fitness pro (NSCA CPT). Though he loves his heavy squat and deadlift sessions, he believes that health and fitness extend well beyond the gym and that fitness should be a tool to promote mental health and lifestyle balance.

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