Getting started can be overwhelming. There’s so much information in this fitness industry which will leave you in ‘paralysis by analysis’. In this blogpost I will go through 3 steps to start building muscle and changing your physique.
Step 1: Just Get Started
The number one thing above all else, is getting in the gym and doing stuff. Get in the gym and train. Find a program that you’re going to enjoy. Don’t worry about periodization, non-linear periodization, daily undulating periodization, what is the perfect program? It doesn’t matter. Research even shows, early on in your life of lifting, early on in your gym training, you’re going to respond to any stimulus. So the most important thing is, you just get into the gym and find your passion. Get into the gym and find what you enjoy. Go with your buddies. Go when it’s crowded. Go when it’s empty. Whatever motivates you to be consistently going to the gym is going to progress.
You’re going to have bad form some days. You’re going to feel weak some days. You’re going to struggle. You’re going to look at what other people do. You’re going to read magazines. When you start to train consistently and going to the gym, it’s going to spark things. You’re going to start to look things up. You’ve got YouTube, Instagram, and while there’s still a lot of noise in the fitness industry, there’s a lot of good information out there.
So you can learn things, you can correct form, if you’re in there doing a barbell curl and you’re like, “I don’t feel it in my biceps, but I feel it in my shoulders.” You can quickly look up a YouTube video and realize that you need to keep your shoulders back, and you need to pull the weight up without letting the elbow rock forward and backward, to really target the biceps. These are kind of things that I had to figure out on my own. I had to. Even though I read books and magazines, it takes digging in and doing it.
So my first tip would be just get in the gym and do something. Don’t get paralysis by analysis. Don’t get bogged down in all this information. Just walk in the gym, try out different machines, lift some weights, and find something that you enjoy program-wise and just stick with it for a couple weeks or a couple months, and then you can start to ask questions and dig in. So that’s tip number one, just get going.
Step 2: Nutrition
All right, step number two would be nutrition. Once you’ve been in the gym for a few weeks or a few months, and you’re going to make progress, no matter what you do. Even with bad nutrition, just because your body is going to adapt to that stimulus. But, the next evolution is going to be your nutrition. What does your nutrition look like?
The most important thing is not that you be perfect, is that you just start to pay attention.
Just start to plug in what you’re doing into an app, into a website, plug in what you’re doing into a piece of paper. Write it down if you want. Look at the food you eat. Everything you eat has a food label now. If it doesn’t have a food label, you can Google banana nut muffin and you can get rough estimates. Again, don’t worry about perfection. Don’t worry about being paralysed by trying to analyze every little detail early on. Just get a baseline. Just get an understanding, and then you can look at it and go, “Oh, I’m only getting 80 grams of protein a day, but I’m getting 400 grams of carbs and 180 grams of fat.” Then you can start to play with your ratios. All right.
And we all know, protein’s good and things like that. So are carbs and fat, but if you don’t have accountability to yourself with your nutrition, then it’s not going to matter. So you need to start just easing into it, by tracking your nutrition, getting ahold of where your ratio is at, where your total calories are at.
First one, get started. Get in the gym. Second tip, nutrition. And the third tip is probably going to be the most important of all three. Now that we’ve been in the gym for a couple weeks, couple months, been consistent, we are getting good at nutrition now. We’re understanding that we need to get a little bit of protein with every meal. We need to be tracking our variables. Making sure our calories are kind of consistent. Our ratios are in a good place. And, sure, we go and have a few blowouts, or un-tracked meals, or don’t even worry about tracking all the time, but we’re aware of what we’re eating from meal to meal. All right.
Step 3: Consistency
And so now, you start to hit a sticking point and a plateau, and this is where it gets difficult. Early on in my lifting career, I would go through three, four months of training, and I would notice all these changes. I would get some vascularity. I would put on some size, and then all of the sudden, something would happen. I would notice I wasn’t changing that much. I would notice, “Man, the scale’s not moving. I’m not able to lift more weight. I’ve been following this arm program four days a week for the last 12 weeks, and I notice some progress, but I’m really stagnant now.”
This is where the most important step comes into play. The most important step is consistency. The first period of training, when I was going through this, I would simply get turned off by the process. I would simply go, “You know what? I’m over this. I’m kind of bored of it. I’m not seeing any changes.” And I would look for a new challenge, and so I would go, “All right. What I want to do this week, I want to work on some other aspect of my life,” and I would just lose that focus on fitness. I would go to the gym maybe once a week, maybe twice, skipping for a two weeks at a time, and then something would happen.
I would get a magazine, read an article, a friend would show up, I would see something that impressed me, and boom. I’d be back into it, and I’d make great progress, because guess what? I had taken all that time off and it’s always easier to get back to where you were than it was to get there initially. So I’d have these peaks and valleys in my training when I started. When you do that, you’re always just kind of maintaining. If I could go back in time and talk to myself at those early days, it would, literally, be to just be consistent.
Understand that, just because you’re not making progress at a fantastic rate, you are still maintaining the progress that you’ve made, and that’s a victory, right. Sometimes maintaining your progress is a great thing, until you get that next impetus. Just being consistent, going to the gym. To this day, even if I feel terrible and I’m not making progress, I start to look at how to change my variables, but I still get my ass in the gym. And this is the best I’ve ever looked, the best I’ve ever felt, and it just so happens to also be the most consistent I’ve ever been.
The difference between the guys that have sick physiques in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, and the guys that say, “Yeah. I used to bench 400. Yeah. I used to.” That’s the difference. The difference is, literally, the consistency. Whatever age you are, wherever your starting point is, you need to just be consistent and look at those people that are just slightly ahead of you, and remain consistent with your training.
Just as a recap. We’re going to focus on three things. Getting started. Just get in the gym. Don’t get too overwhelmed with all the stuff that’s out there. Tracking your diet. Don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t try to be too precise. Just start getting familiar with, when you sit down at a meal, what’s on your plate, and what does the nutrition look like for that meal, and then we can start getting into specifics about how to hit our goals for the day. And the third thing, is be consistent. It’s amazing. Even if you don’t do things perfectly, but you do them consistently for a long period of time, how much success you’re going to have.
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