I always played sports so was athletic and fit but 11th grade is when I entered the gym for the first time. I did a lot of cardio and abs, of course. Later I started putting pieces together working out all the muscle groups. I started following fitness people and doing what they did.
I did that for a long time. Not having a specific goal but knowing I wanted to look different? So I followed random people on social media and if I liked what I saw I would copy what they did. Yikes. For years I didn't have a major rhyme or reason to what I was doing. I did what I saw. So I bounced around a lot but always loved strength training. I spent a lot of time copying other people.
Something I would encourage you to do before anything is considered. What do you want your life to look like now and 5 years from now? What you're doing with your fitness, let it show that. If you're running everyday but hate running, stop. If you hate going to the gym everyday and would rather run, then run. Also, if you want defined shoulders and killer quads why the heck are you running so much. If you want to keep up with your kids on the playground and be able to outrun them till their teenagers. Then why aren't you incorporating some cardio? These are things to consider. Don't do things to do them. Do them because they enhance your life and serve you well.
With all that being said there are some things that I wasted my time on. Things I wish I knew earlier. So hopefully digesting these together will help you.
Cardio after weights. Unless you are marathon training and need to increase your endurance. Cardio should always be after weights because lifting weights requires more mental focus. You want your muscles to be fresh. If you try to lift after cardio you’ll find that you’re more fatigued and won’t be able to lift as heavy. So unless you have tremendous cardio goals, always do weights first. Now, if you warm up on the treadmill or elliptical or a piece of equipment like that. Warm up for around 10 minutes. Don’t completely exhaust yourself before you start weights.
Have your workout planned before walking into the gym. Always, always go to the gym already prepared. This will prevent walking around aimlessly. Or scrolling through your phone trying to find a work out while you’re in the gym. If you don’t want to spend hours in the gym, go prepared. You may run into a piece of equipment already being used. You can either skip it and go back to it later or find another machine that works the same muscle group. But definitely don’t walk into the gym not knowing which muscle groups you’re working. Always come prepared.
Protein is vital to success. I can’t emphasize this one enough if you’re looking to build muscle or lose body fat you must eat enough protein. If you’re not eating enough protein you’ll loose muscle, not fat. So then your workouts will basically be pointless. So if you don’t want to have pointless workouts make sure you are eating enough protein. A good rule of thumb is to eat your goal body weight in grams.
Eat after you workout. I absolutely think you should eat before you workout but also it is super important to eat after you work out. After you work out your muscles and energy is super depleted so you need to replenish that. Your body isn’t just going to sit there and eat your fat like you may think. It’s going to go for energy sources and your muscle may be that. You need to start repairing the muscles that are breaking down and you need protein and carbs to do that.
Take supplements to fill the gaps. Along with needing to eat after you work out and having to have protein. Supplements are a huge factor in success as well. Now you don’t need to start taking all of these supplements as soon as you start working out. This is just to fill the gaps of what you might be missing. So first focus on your nutrition. Are you actually eating enough? Are you eating protein and nutrient dense foods? After you’ve done all those things then address your multivitamins, greens and things of that nature. You then can consider things like pre-workout and post workout supplements. These are to assist you in giving you nutrients and vitamins you may not be able to get in the food that you’re eating.
Consistency is actually key. It doesn’t matter what workouts you do and where you go to work out. If you don’t stay consistent in it it’s pointless. Its the same as if you mow your lawn one time really well. Then ignore it for the rest of the year, you will most likely have a crappy lawn. Just like if you find the perfect program and are eating really well and stick to it for two months. Only to ditch everything and go back to unhealthy habits. You will most likely get crappy results also. Whether it’s yoga, running, weight training, CrossFit or Pilates. Do you things that you can actually stay consistent in. You want to have habits that you can stick to for life, not just for the next 12 weeks. So when you’re starting a new program or trying to implement things. Think is this something you can actually stick to and stay consistent in. You’re better off doing something minor for a year and continuing on from there. Then doing something major and only being able to stick to it for a month or two.
You don't have to workout everyday. The hours and hours I wasted forcing myself to work out every single day for so long. It actually makes me so sad for myself thinking about it. It’s kind of pathetic but it’s what I thought I had to do in order to be fit. My body would be so sore and I would force a workout. Or if I was too sore to lift I would force myself to run or swim. I never got the results I wanted doing it this way. I wasn’t fueling myself correctly. I wasn’t allowing my body to recover and build the muscle that I was trying to build. I was a slave to working out I had such a toxic relationship with it, it consumed everything. That is a topic for another day. But what I want to strongly emphasize is that your body needs rest, it needs time to recover. Working out every day can take away from that and leave you with disappointing results. I used to force myself into exercising every day and not just a walk. It would have to be a run or lifting or like I said swimming. Now I work out four days a week. I feel good when I work out. I feel strong and I walk every day to get me outside and get my body moving. I’m pretty sedentary during the day so it’s a great break for me. But working out every day? Not for me, that’s for sure.
Form is more important than the weight you're lifting. I actually injured my back and still deal with it from time to time because of this. I had no idea what I was doing in some of my workouts. I would just lift as heavy as I could or do as many reps as I possibly could. Because that’s what I was supposed to do, right? Thank God I married a physical therapist and he brought me down to earth and what I need to do to not break my knees in my 30s. I have learned so much from him and through my own research and time spent working out. It doesn’t matter how much weight you’re lifting. If you’re not engaging your muscles and lifting the right way you could do more damage than anything else. So if you’re not sure if your form is correct. Be sure to meet with a personal trainer a few times or have a trusted workout buddy to help you.
Strong is better than skinny. OK if you would’ve told me this 15 years ago I probably would have laughed. But we get so caught up in the idea of being skinny because that’s what everybody says is “good “. When you think about it. Skinny normally means losing your curves, having a flat butt and being more twiggy. No I’m not saying skinny is bad it’s the focus of wanting to be skinny. But a lot of times along with being skinny comes a lack of strength. And what is important is again and being able to enhance your life with your body. So if you want to be playing frisbee on the beach like me I have to have some muscle to keep up with everybody. So if your focus is skinny think again. Is that what you want your life to look like? Or do you want to fill out the jeans and when you’re holding the grocery bags have those muscles pop a little bit.😏
Lift big muscle groups first. This is a little bit more in-depth than some of my other tips. But a lot of times we go into the gym and don’t really think about what we’re doing. Something to consider when writing your own workouts or following a program. Make sure you are doing those big lifts first. Now definitely make sure you warm up and have the right muscles fired up. But if you’re squatting, or doing overhead presses be sure to do those first. Those should be your heavier lifts and you don’t want the muscles to be too fatigued by the time you get to that exercise.
Like I said, these are some things that I’ve learned in my journey. I’m not saying that being skinny is bad or that you can’t work out seven days a week. But realizing these things for myself was a game changer. It brought me more freedom than restriction. Hopefully this can help you create a workout program or a fitness routine that serves you better.❤️