A Beginners Guide To Lifting

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The internet can be a double edge sword. It gives a lot of great information but for every piece of good information, theres about 532,904,723,094,832 pieces of bad information for the same topic.

Algorithms, top-hits, paid search terms by providers, and various methods to generate traffic make it seem like those top 5-10 websites you want hold the key to lock you possess. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

It comes to no surprise many people still believe the treadmill is a way to warm-up before a workout, that sweating is any indicator of how hard you work, that getting your “ass kicked” is an indicator of an effective work out, “tone” is a word to describe a “look”, and that being incredibly sore is an indicator of how hard you worked.

If you haven’t grasped what I’m getting at, all of the above mentioned is pure, utter, bullballs. Large, hairy, nasty, bullballs. So get it out of your head and start learning whats RIGHT.

I have always been one to preach, YOU NEED A PLAN BEFORE YOU ENTER THE GYM. Period. There is no and’s, if’s, or but’s about it. How many people do you know, or maybe you are the person, that go in and out of the gym, sometimes twice a day, and still look no different or look worse than when they started? As a trainer, I take note of this OFTEN and there’s almost an infinite amount of people.

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For the individual looking to move better, get stronger, and look better, a basic template plan is:

  1. Dynamic Warm Up

  2. Strength Training

  3. Cool Down

If you start off with this, you will have a foundational understanding of the order of what you need to do.

1: Dynamic Warm-Up

The roll of the dynamic warm-up is to simply get your body ready for the session ahead. This is when you get your joints and muscles warmed up to reduce the chances of pulling or tweaking a muscle. It is also a good time to get some weaker muscles more activated.

Like to foam roll? Do it. Squatting that day? Have at it with bodyweight squats. Getting the glutes active? Get some band walks in. There are a TON of things you can do, unloaded, that mimic your movements of the session, that can and should be done.

THAT is a warm up. Not 10 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical. Period.

2: Strength Training

It’s pathetic how much this is often missed. Need better balance? Strength train. Need to become leaner? Strength train. Want to look better? Strength train. Have to pick up your children easily? Strength train. Want to carry all the groceries in one trip because going to the car 10 times sucks? Strength train.

Yes, I know, theres more to training than barbells and dumbbells. Well…yes and no. For instance, as a bodybuilder (as you ALL are bodybuilders because you are in fact, building your body), I use the TRX for curls, pistol squats, push ups, and other movements as a different stimulus to the muscle Im training but the movements themselves, is still what Im training. No one says you can’t use suspension trainers or kettlebells or band or chains or sandbags. These are all TOOLS. A tool is only effective when it is used in the proper context using the proper load.

That said, before you even consider using ANY piece of equipment, you have to know what you will be training that particular day to then best effectively train that muscle/movement. For instance, you wouldn’t do shoulder presses using a TRX. That’s silly. You wouldn’t do standing chest presses with a barbell. That’s not the smartest thing in the book and could end up in a lawsuit if you let go and smash someone in the face with it.

Many new trainees would be best served by learning the movements, challenging themselves, and not overtraining. In this case, a 3-day split is what I usually recommend.

The reason being is I get a lot of, “I go to the gym 4-5 days a week and I can’t seem to get where I want.” It’s a frustrating feeling but Im letting you know now, LESS IS MORE especially as a new trainee. On top of that, the 3-day split works well with MANY people because I know you aren’t able to train ALL the time with work, family obligations, or just not a deep desire to spend your free time in the gym all the time. I get it.

If you are going to train 3 days, the splits I recommend are (in a 7 day cycle):

Day 1: Upper Body

Day 3: Lower Body

Day 5: Total Body

or

Day 1: Total Body

Day 3: Total Body

Day 5: Total Body

These work real well. Volume, exercises, rest, etc., are all trainee dependent. Some people can do more work and feel ok, some need less work and can still thrive. This is when you listen to your body. Devise a strength plan and STICK TO IT.

#3: Cool Down

Honestly, cool down by foam rolling and/or doing your dynamic warm up again. It’s unloaded, it lets you move a little more, and in my experience and those of my clients, it’s going to help you feel a little better when DOMS (soreness due to activity that happens usually 24-48 hours after exercise) sets in.

Although this may not show up #1 in Google search for “the most effective way to build the body”, it’s a damn good start. All too often people have these ideas still lodged in their brain that sweating is any indicator of how hard you work and that getting your “ass kicked” is an indicator of an effective work out.

None of that is true and it’s about time people start getting their plans together.

In the wise words of the great LLK,

“I HAVE A DREAM TODAY, THAT ONE DAY, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WILL WALK THE EARTH STRONG, SHREDDED, PAIN FREE, AND MAKING GAINS ALL THE TIME.”

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