Things I wish I knew when I first joined a gym

I have been going to the gym for a long time, along the way I have learnt a lot of things – some which took longer than others.

Here is a list of things that I wish I knew when I first joined the gym:

The Importance of Nutrition:

When I first joined the gym the aim was to lose weight while maintaining my unhealthy diet.  I did lose weight but I quickly plateaued.  From various ambitions such as getting rid of fat round my stomach or becoming stronger I never valued the importance of nutrition.

Man drinking water from huge water bottle

When I was really serious about racing last year I completely altered my diet – I only drank water, I snacked on fruit and nuts and I cut out bread and chips.  As a result I looked really lean – I was the slimmest I had been as an adult and it paid off for my races as I achieved my best times ever.

How lame Machine Weights are:

I will clearly say that machine weights are good if you are a beginner wanting to develop good form or if you are recovering from an injury.

However I mostly used Machine Weights for three years and saw little improvement (except getting stronger at doing the machine weights).  When I transferred to free weights it was hard (though I did have good form).  Over a period of a year I become stronger and saw more definition in my muscles.

The reason that Machines Weights don’t have that same growth is that they are in a fixed position and so you are only working one muscle area.  With a free weight you use other muscles in sustaining control of the weight.

So use the Machine Weights to find your form, then move over to free weights, but make sure you learn the technique!

It doesn’t matter how much you can lift!  How good is your technique?

Like every young lad at the gym I got stuck in the trap of ‘How much do you bench?’  The most I have every lifted is 100kg (weighing 95kg).  However my I didn’t go down far enough – so it doesn’t count!

The other day at the gym I bench 40kg for 15 reps.  However each movement was controlled and I felt it working my chest and arms.  My advice stop listening to your ‘bro’ mates, get a personal trainer or train with someone who has a physique you want to aspire towards.

squat

I want to know the background for why they were doing this….

Ask your personal trainer/gym instructor their background

And I don’t mean what their qualification is!  Anyone can do a once a week three month course to become a Level 2 instructor.  But I have had way too many experiences with 18 year old gym instructors, who have only been using the gym slightly longer than they were qualified.

So when you get that skinny kid advising you on your deadlift form ask about their background.  If they say that they was the top striker at school (but never good enough to make it), then assume that weights is not there area (cardio condition for team sports however?).

Don’t listen to amateur personal trainers

Which leads me to this.  At least the young gym instructor had good, but naive intentions.  The ones who get on my nerves now is the amateur personal trainers.  As a rookie I got them giving me their ‘bro science’ all the time.

And the result – I usually got called out by an experienced trainer saying that if I kept doing that I would injury myself!

I have been training at the gym for nearly 14 years now and have never once felt that anyone should listen to my advice.  I have only given out advice twice during that time and both people approached me first for advice and even though I knew in my head what I was doing I didn’t feel comfortable sharing what I was doing

(I can remember them too!  1. How do you get good at pull ups? 2. Can you show me how to do that (deadlift)?)

So whether it is advice to make your biceps bigger, improve your punch or have a bigger erection I have usually been polite to indulge their ego, then get on with my training as usual.

And I realise with that last point that you could actually discount everything I just said and I wouldn’t blame you – do you research and you will be fine.

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7 thoughts on “Things I wish I knew when I first joined a gym

  1. I wish that I would have first learned more about what I was doing. For instance sets, reps, form etc. The learning happened along the way but it would have been a lot faster.

    1. Same for me. I guess sometimes you can read up, watch videos as much as you want, but you sometimes only find that with time. Thanks for taking the time to comment

  2. excellent points. i particularly agree with with what matters is form. there really is so much more to building a healthy body. movement, flexibility, fluidity. and yes nutrition, too. but i still have to commit to that one! great job though!

    1. Thanks for commenting (and the follow). I would be lying if I said my diet and nutrition was always fully committed to, however I feel I have evolved from the mindset “Well if I train hard enough I can eat what or want” or worse “Its okay that I eat what I want as how else will I get big?”

      1. good on you. i think what we eat plays a big role on how we train. if we eat good, we feel lighter and move better. but cake. what do you do on the gym? are you into fighting or any combat sport training too?

      2. I focus on functional fitness so lots of bodyweight exercises and cross fit style workouts that get my heart and lungs working. I also try and get the big 5 in (bench, squats, deadlifts, rows and bicep curls). I have done karate in the past which has been handy for bag work, but I mostly focus on fitness for obstacle racing nowadays.

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