How many times have you joined a gym, with no intention of actually going regularly?
How often have you started a diet, only to quit a few days in?
What if I told you that there is a way to actually achieve the results you’ve been looking for?
Most of us would immediately think of some type of ‘hack’ that would then be sold for a great profit. Making the manufacturer rich, and leaving the customer with just another fad.
No, the ‘hack’ I’m talking about is called perception.
The way you perceive the world will ultimately dictate the life that you’re going to be living.
In a world where instant gratification is rife, it is hard to imagine putting in the hours of blood, sweat, and tears in order to achieve a single goal; even if this goal can literally change your life around for the best.
While it may seem daunting to embark on such an arduous and long-winding journey, it will ultimately pay off in more ways than you can imagine. After all, the best things in life are earned through hardship and effort.
The very first step that will lead you towards physical greatness is paradoxically the easiest and the hardest step to take: you must be willing to endure the countless hours of effort it takes to achieve your goal.
Hey! no one said it was going to be easy. If you truly wish to get into a good shape, you have to put in real, sweaty effort, period.
The beginning is often the hardest to get around as your body has to adapt to all the extra physical stress that your putting it through, not to mention the mental challenge of adopting a new habit. However, I promise you that it gets easier with time.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to start building your fitness levels is to start running outside. Running is quite a taxing form of exercise and therefore will be a good way of conditioning your body in preparation for what’s to come.
I’d recommend to start off by running 15-20 minutes 2-3 days per week, and to gradually increase the length of your session by 10% every 2 weeks.
Not only will running outside improve your health by increasing muscle mass, bone density, joint stability, blood circulation, lung capacity and much more. It will also positively impact your mental space and aid you in developing an iron will.
If you decide to simply maintain your health and keep fit, running regularly will most likely do the trick, however if you are an aspiring gym-rat, please keep reading.
Once you have become comfortable running, you are ready to start pumping iron. As a beginner, it is best to not jump into too much too soon, as your body will roughly take 6 weeks to adapt to resistance training (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself though).
For beginners, training 2-3 days a week and targeting the main muscle groups (legs, back, chest, shoulders, abs) each workout is sufficient.
The exercises that you perform during these workouts are mainly to improve muscle stabilisation, coordination, and correct form. This will prepare your muscles for lifting heavier weights safely and efficiently which will ultimately allow you to become a successful (and most importantly, sexy) weightlifter.
So let’s get into it!
The blood, sweat, and tears
It’s important that you warm-up beforehand; therefore I’d recommend that you jump on the treadmill or do any form of cardio at a light intensity for about 5 minutes.
Once you’ve finished warming up you’ll be doing some dynamic stretches, which is just a fancy term for swinging your arms and legs about, really.
Some of the most common and effective dynamic stretches; perform 10 repetitions for each side:
- High Knees (lift your knees up to waist height and alternate)
- Arm Swings (Swing your arms in circles, both forwards and backwards)
- Lunges (step forward with one foot until your knee reaches a 90 degree bend, then return)
- Leg Swings (Hold on to something and swing your legs back and forth at the hip)
Once you have warmed up, it’s time to start lifting! The workout that we will be doing for the first 4 weeks will mainly involve machines. We’ll be using machines for now as beginners often lack muscle stability and coordination.
Resistance machines guide the movement for you, and so are a good way of improving muscle coordination and stability. You’ll be lifting free weights in no time!
The table above shows which exercises you should do for the first 4 weeks of your fitness journey, all exercises except for the goblet squat, single leg step up and abdominal exercises, are performed using a corresponding resistance machine, and are therefore (more or less) self-explanatory.
As for the jargon:
- Reps or repetitions refer to the number of movements you perform within a given exercise.
- Sets refer to the number of cycles of reps you perform for a given exercise.
- %1 RM or Percentage One Rep Maximum, refers to the level of effort that is required to complete this exercise successfully (ie. if your able to perform only 1 repetition at 100 KG for the squat exercise, a 60% 1 RM will let you know that you should train at around 60 KG).
Free weight exercises
I have included a pair of free weight exercises to help you develop muscle coordination and stability.
The Goblet Squat is a variation of a regular back squat, and is performed as follows:
- Grab a single dumbbell (60% of your 1 Rep Max), with both hands and stand at shoulder width apart.
- Hold the dumbbell against your chest, and while looking straight ahead, with your chest out and keeping your lower back straight, gently lower yourself.
- Breathe in as you lower yourself; make sure your knees reach a 90 degree bend.
- Remain at this position for a split second and drive up powerfully until you are standing once again. Breathe out rather forcefully as you’re pushing off the ground.
The Single Leg Step Up is in a way a variation of the lunge, and performed like this:
- Find an elevated surface such as a box and grab two dumbbells; keep them on your sides.
- Place one foot on the box and whilst maintaining your balance, step up on the box.
- As you step up, engage your leg muscles and drive powerfully through your heel until your leg is straight; breathe out as you’re doing this.
- Afterwards, carefully return to your original position in front of the box, and repeat with the other leg.
Once finished with your workout, it’s always a good idea to do some stretching. Aside from improving your overall flexibility, with time, you will be able to perform a greater range of motion for the exercises that you perform; meaning you will obtain better results from your workouts.
Everyone wants to life a rich, healthy, and fulfilling life. Starting the journey to physical greatness is much akin to starting to rotate the first cog in a great set of gears which will all ultimately guide you to prosperity, happiness, and many years of a high quality life.
Start your journey now and do not be afraid of failure.
After all, we’re all in this together.