I hate to start off with something seemingly so negative, but this is one the unavoidable realities of fitness training and in fact life in general. So it’s best to come in with the mindset that hey, this is gonna happen and like a good cub scout be prepared.
When you first start working out, you are going to feel some soreness and that’s quite normal. In fact it’s a good thing. It means that your muscles are waking up and are getting ready to go to work for you. If you’re like a lot of people, you haven’t asked your body to do much more than sit down, stand up and walk you around a little bit, so a lot of those muscle fibers that you have, they haven’t had any work to do so when you call them into play, they tend to be a little irritable for the first session on so (like a lot of people when they first get woken out of a deep sleep), so keep this in mind as it is 99.9% going to happen. So what can you do to minimize it? First up is to not push yourself too hard on the first few sessions. Remember, this is best approached with a marathon mindset, not a sprint, so taking it easy now will pay dividends down the line. Some other things that can help would be a nice hot bath after your first session, perhaps an anti-inflammatory, etc. and remember, it’s totally normal so don’t think you broke yourself or have something wrong with you.
The good news is that it’s a pretty short term thing and after the first week or two, soreness will usually only manifest after especially hard training or perhaps trying something new for the first time, so take heart:) and stick with it!
2. YOU WILL GET STRONGER (BUT NOT BIGGER…) QUICKLY
So like I said above, you have a lot of muscle fibers that you haven’t been using. But they are there and they are ready for action! Unfortunately it takes a while for them to get turned on and charged up as your nervous system hasn’t had to fire them off in a while. However once your brain figures out how to call them to arms, you will be pretty surprised at how quickly you are able to access hereto unknown levels of strength and power in your body.
See, before you start worrying about building muscle, we need to maximize using the muscles you already have. This is what I like to refer to as building the “skill of strength”, your body’s ability to correctly fire off the correct muscle fibers at the correct time to generate powerful movement. This is why you can see significant gains in strength without building much muscle.
This steady building of power can take several months to peak at, so you can look forward to seeing some pretty consistent progress until then. However, there will be a point where you are using all the muscle in your body and everything is working at a peak, at that point it becomes more about building new muscle, and thus the roller coaster will slow down, but by then you will be addicted to just how good it feels to be in shape that you’ll just keep on sticking with it, which leads nicely to my next point…
3. CONSISTENCY IS KEY
How many days do you think you should work out? 2 days a week? Maybe 3. The answer is as many as you can! Our bodies are amazing machines…they can climb mountains, and run incredible distances, they can lift huge weights and survive incredible odds. And yet we barely use them for anything more than sitting in our chair and walking a little bit here and there. Your body wants, actually, your body needs, exercise to be happy, and here is a little bonus, your mind needs your body to exercise too. The studies that have shown the positive effects of exercise on mood, cognitive function and peoples levels of happiness are way too numerous to mention. Whatever mental clouds or fog you might feel on any given day, I guarantee you a good workout will blow them right out of the window.
Now, that being said, should everyday be a 100% balls to the wall workout….absolutely not. A workout can range from some gentle stretching and a steady walk by the beach….all the up to Powerlifting and Kettlebell Tabatas (Google it…).
Anyways, as rule I rarely make promises I can’t keep….but I PROMISE, consistent working out will improve your mood, your sense of self-worth, your body and your life in general….so go train!
4. TRAIN MOVEMENTS NOT MUSCLES
The bodybuilding revolution of the 70’s introduced a lot of new concepts regarding health and fitness to the population at large. One of the biggest was the idea that doing what can be called isolation moves was the way to get fit, healthy and strong. The idea of working each individual muscle in isolation, by itself became THE way to train in most people’s minds and that is an idea that continues to be perpetrated to this day. However, the body doesn’t actually move in isolation….not in real life, out in the real world doing real things. In reality, the body moves in what we’ll call a synergistic way…i.e., lots of muscles working together as a team, each with their own individual role to play in order to create movement, and this is actually a way better way to look at things.
So armed with this knowledge, it appears common sense that our training should reflect that reality. So stop thinking about your body as different muscles to train and start thinking of your body as having different movements to train. As a contrast what is cooler: training your quads, then training your calves, and then training your lower back and then training your hamstrings and then training your abs for 3 sets of 10 reps (zzzz)…….or learning to jump higher, further and faster? To explode up, up and away? And by the way, learning to jump will train all the muscles we just spoke about, although in way that actually applies to real world human movement…along with a healthy dose of balance and cardio! It’s a way of looking at fitness that actually crosses over to real life as oppose to just looking good in a posing pouch.
If you work on getting fit and functional, the body you want to see in the mirror is sure to follow!
5. YOU GOTTA EAT RIGHT
It’s a common maxim in fitness circles that abs are made in the kitchen, and there is certainly some truth to that. In order to both look and perform your best, a healthy diet that supports your body’s needs is a must. However that being said, food doesn’t need to be a soulless task of counting calories and measuring portions. Now, it’s true that in order to get the very most out of your training, consulting and working with a fitness profession regarding your dietary needs is definitely optimal. However, a little dose of common sense can also go a long way. So I’m gonna give you 3 simple principles, which although only the tip of the iceberg, might give you some insight into how simple getting your dietary house in order can be.
1…The best diet is one you can sustain, so a good rule of thumb is to stay away from any “miracle” diets. The ideal diet will give you a lot of flexibility and will be something that gives you not only health and physical power, but is also one you enjoy and that becomes a part of your lifestyle.
2…You already have a good deal of useful knowledge about diet, you just likely aren’t applying it. Let’s play a little game for a second…
Door #1…a bowl of blueberries, some grass fed beef, a bowl of kale, some sweet potatoes, coconut water
Door #2…a blueberry cheesecake, some fried chicken, jalapeno poppers, French fries, a can of soda
Now behind which door do you think the food that will best support your body is hiding? If you said door #2, then shame on you! However, if you said door #1, then you have proved my above point that you already have enough diet knowledge to make a big difference in your quality of life. The truth be told is that you already know 90% of what you need to about what to eat to reach optimal health. The term for it is “eating clean” and at its simplest it is made up of fruits, veggies, lean meats, fish and some healthy grains. Basically the same type of diet that people ate before fast food and strip malls became the rage. If it comes in a bag or a box, then likely it belongs in the trash.
3…The less ingredients the better…how many ingredients in spinach? How many in salmon? How about an apple? You get the idea….eat simple, whole foods and you won’t believe the difference.
6. THE SECRET INGREDIENT THAT WILL ASSURE YOU HIT YOUR GOALS, WHATEVER THEY ARE?
It’s simple…the secret ingredient is work! One of the wonderful truths about fitness is that it’s something that can’t be bought, it can’t be given, it can only be earned and any gains you make, you can take pride in knowing that you made them happen. As trainers we will provide you with the very best, most modern information, and hopefully we can provide you with some inspiration too…but when it comes to perspiration, that’s all you:). Working hard and giving it your best whenever you come into the gym is the way to ensure you will hit your goals 100% of the time. If you put in the work, the results are sure to follow. You will have new levels of energy, strength and vibrancy and you will be able to take pride in known that you made it happen for yourself! Truly something you can hold your head up high regarding.