Being a rookie is the gym is exciting, but tough. You have so much potential to fulfil but the pitfalls are all to easy to fall down on. Here's three of the biggest mistakes I see beginners making (not to mention three I made for years too!).
For anyone who is at the start of their health and fitness journey I can completely understand if you're a little puzzled as to what direction to turn when it comes to building muscle. Just google "how to build muscle" and you'll be bombarded with over 8 million search results! So here's a couple of key things that in hindsight I wish I had got to grips with sooner when I made my start.
1/ CALORIE SURPLUS - Without this you won't build muscle. It's as simple as that. What this means is you need to be eating more calories than you are burning for a sustained period of time. It works a little like this... Imagine a house (your body right now) and it's made of a certain amount of bricks (calories). If you want to build a bigger house, you're going to need more bricks right? Very simplistic analogy but you get the picture.
2/ MUSCULAR DAMAGE - This is something you're looking to create through training. Not in the same way that you would tear a muscle and end up with an injury, we're talking about tiny micro tears within the muscle tissue. Causing these microscopic tears is one of the goals of weight training when trying to build muscle. Again, lets use the above analogy... If you're going to build your bigger house, you're going to need to chip away a few bricks and cement (muscle damage) to be able to add on more bricks (new lean muscle tissue).
3/ PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD - This is crucial for making progress in whatever the aspect of fitness and building muscle is no exception. The term progressive overload simply means progressing your training over time. This might mean adding extra weight on certain movements or maybe more total reps and sets of specific exercises. The key is to log your training so you know your numbers to then push forward on as the weeks move on.
4/ PROTEIN - Being in a calorie surplus is important but if you don't have an adequate amount of protein in your diet then it's all for a lost cause. Aiming for 2/2.5g protein per kg of bodyweight puts you in a great position. If you don't want to get lost in the maths of it, another good gauge is to include a palm sized protein source in every meal (based on three meals a day) and then supplement with a standard whey protein shake once a day too.
5/ FEEL THE BURN - If it ain't hurting it ain't working. You need to understand that the dull ache you get towards the end of an exercise, that's important! I'm not saying you need to yourself into the ground killing yourself 7 days a week, especially in the early days, but you do need to get your game face on and get comfortable being uncomfortable. It isn't a social event and it will require effort.
6/ IT TAKES TIME - Building muscle is a long steady process. There is absolutely zero chance of you waking up and seeing superman's torso after a week of bench pressing. If only it were that simple! One week you might notice your a couple of pounds up on the scales, the next month you might notice your t-shirt sleeves getting a little snug and next year you might be looking back at holiday pictures and getting some clean cut perspective of the gains you have made over the year.
Building muscle isn't easy, if it was everyone would be walking round looking enviably good! But the benefits of carrying a little extra muscle mass than the average guy or girl definitely make it worthwhile. In fact, they deserve a post all of their own, so i'll leave this one here for now!
With London setting the standard with it's huge influx of health and fitness based facilities over the past few years, the surrounding counties are starting to catch up. The following are a few of my top picks you should make an effort to visit if you're Essex based like myself.
1/ ABSALUTE GYM - Over the past 5/6 years the guys at Absalute have built an empire of the best equipped gyms in the county. With gyms in Brentwood, Romford, Thurrock and Chelmsford, Absalute has managed to strike just the right balance of 'spit and sawdust' with extensive high grade equipment. Not only that, all four gyms have multiple personal trainers who work independently in their own specialist disciplines, which means you'll never be far from a helping hand if you need it in any area of fitness. If you want to take your training to the next level and surround yourself with other people hungry for results, these gyms are where you need to be.
Find out more about all four gyms at absalutegym.co.uk
2/ HEALTHY ROOTS - This is exactly what every high street needs. An eatery that prides itself on providing quality, tasty food with both eat in or take out dining options. A varied menu comprised of the best quality ingredients makes this place a 'must visit' if you're passing through. Based in Upminster, Healthy Roots is the only place of it's kind in the local vicinity, although given their massive popularity I'm sure we'll see other start ups come in to try to replicate.
Check out Healthy Roots at facebook.com/healhtyrootslondon
3/ ESSEX BOOTCAMP - If the gym isn't for you or you simply prefer to get yourself outdoors and you want to get fitter, stronger and leaner you need to check these guys out. With thousands of members enjoying their bootcamp based training every week from over 20 locations, the Essex Bootcamp movement has grown through a combination of effective but fun and engaging sessions paired with an awesome sense of team spirit. The trainers love what they do and care about every member's personal fitness journey.
Visit essexbootcamp.co.uk to sign up for your free 7-day trial.