We all know that fitness newbies arrive in droves at the gym in January, eager to try out new fitness routines in order to finally get into shape. This is the year. This is always the year.
But then like clockwork, unfortunately many of these people don’t stick with their new plans beyond the first month or two.
Why does this happen? Why does everyone disappear from the gym in February when they were all so gung-ho on the healthy train just a few weeks ago?
There are many reasons why this might happen, but often it’s because of the simple fact that sticking with a new fitness routine is hard, and without the right support and expectations it can be a heck of a lot easier to just not do anything at all. However, if gym-newbies try to remember a few key things, staying consistent with their new healthy routine might be that much easier.
Heck, if everyone remembers these three important things, the gym might just be a happier and healthier place overall.
1. Everyone Started Somewhere. This is the most important thing to remember when first starting out at a gym. Everyone, even the fitness freak doing handstand pushups in the corner, and the gym-bro bench pressing 350 pounds. Yes, there was a time when he bench pressed for his very first time, and guess what, his numbers probably weren’t that impressive. The girl with the six pack abs, full make up and perfectly done hair? Well, she was also the new girl at one point, and she probably had her fair share of sweaty, red-faced days in which she didn’t look quite so perfect or effortless. (Let’s save the full makeup/hair debate for another post).
It can be really easy to get intimidated by people at the gym who look like they think they know everything about fitness (they don’t), or look like they’ve been working out every day for years. It can be really intimidating to see people who know the personal training staff all by name, and who seem to be the “cool kids” at the gym. But honestly, there are no cool kids. Everyone is there working toward their own goals, and if someone goes out of their way to make you feel like you’re not a cool kid, then you have full permission to not so subtly remind them that they, too, started out as the “newbie” at one time.
This guy thinks he knows a lot about fitness. Trust me, he doesn’t.
2. You don’t have to “kill yourself” every time. I would say the biggest reason most fitness programs fail is because people tend to go way too hard, way too soon. People who start fitness programs generally want to see results fast, and they think that the key to that is absolutely demolishing themselves during every session. We are a society of instant gratification — we want what we want, and we wanted it five minutes ago. People want to see physical change from their fitness routine right away, even though that attitude is only going to lead to disappointment in the gym, where change takes time and a whole lot of patience.
“Go hard or go home” does not apply to every person during every workout. Do you want to push yourself so that your body adapts to new demands and becomes stronger and faster? Of course. Do you want to end up a non-functional pile of sweaty goo at the end of every workout? No, that is not necessary, and in fact is (or should be) discouraged. In fact, if you are working with a trainer who won’t let you leave the gym unless you’ve reached muscle failure during every single workout, your main concern should be finding yourself a new trainer.
Going too hard all the time can lead to injury, especially in those who are just starting out with a new program. And even for those who manage to avoid injury, this “go hard” mentality can very easily cause you to burn out and stop working out all together. So what can you do instead of going 100% hard, 100% of the time? Work with a trainer who understands your goals and who understand the necessary steps to get you there. Follow a program that helps you to see progress and reach goals, without unnecessary pain, sheer exhaustion, or overwhelming soreness. This is the type of program you can stick with, and this is the type of plan that your body will respond to in the long run.
What good is a workout plan that is just too much for your body to handle, causing you to give up after just a few short weeks?
3. You can’t out train a bad diet. I won’t go for the cliche “Abs are made in the kitchen” here, because I do believe that it takes a careful combination of both diet and exercise to reach body composition goals. That being said, it is not possible to out train a bad diet, and what you put into your body will absolutely be reflected in your results.
How many times have you heard of people who put in a great work out, and then go home and over eat because they “earned it”? Listen, I’m all about indulging sometimes, and I’m a huge supporter of “everything in moderation”. But if you are seriously trying to lose body fat or otherwise improve your body composition, your diet needs to play a primary role in achieving your goal.
Fat loss is much more complicated than just calories in, calories out, but the honest truth is that to lose fat, their must be an energy deficit. There must be, overall, less calories consumed than expended. And once you really get down to it, calories are a heck of a lot easier to consume than they are to burn. That cookie from the bakery that you “earned”? That’s 300-500 calories that will take you about 2 minutes to eat, and there goes the caloric deficit that you’ve been working so hard for. Like I mentioned before, moderation is the key here, but losing body fat does require that this type of indulgence is kept in check the majority of the time.
And while we’re on the subject, this unfortunately goes for alcohol as well. Alcohol all but halts your fat loss, so indulging in adult beverages several times per week, while fun at the time, can keep your progress at a standstill at the very least.
4. Bonus. I know the title of the post said 3, but I’m going to give you a little gem of a bonus here. Never, ever, use the good girl/bad girl (hip adductor and abductor machines). Just don’t.
Readers: What do you remember most about when you first started going to the gym? What would be your top piece of advice for gym newbies?