I remember the day I stepped foot in a gym for the very first time. I was a man-child amongst grown men, women, giants, strong, fit and athletic.
I remember seeing the trophy case filled with all those incredible accomplishment bodybuilders of all nationalities, gender, height, weight and age, including my own. I was in complete awe of this new incredible world I just discovered and I knew in the moment, this would change my life. But where do I start?
Now I can tell you something you probably already know if you’ve never really trained before, let alone record you personal max on a bench or squat, and that is the gym is a very, very intimidating place.
In truth, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t know what you’re doing and that’s okay, and you may not be so quick to admit that to yourself. There’s a lot of questions floating in your head, like:
“Do I need a goal?” And how much is enough protein to get big?” And somedays, you might ask yourself “what the hell am I even doing here?"
Of course you have no intention of admitting that to yourself and right about now, you might be thinking about that bag of Spicy Chilli Doritos you may or may not pick up on the way home. Well, let’s not panic just yet, leave the tasty chips on the shelf and take a few steps back.
I’m going to give you a few take-me home tips for getting started for all you new-bees taking a photo for your very first gym membership and please remember this time because it might be the last time you suck at it. Embrace that suck now, and let that be your fuel!
1. Have The Right Mindset
Learn to be patient and cultivate a frame of knowledge. You don’t know what you don’t know, so leave the ego home please, and come with this understanding because it will prevent you from injuries or a possibly misshaped body. I’m talking about big chest, small arms, small legs, big calves.
Not Knowing is a state of perspective and if you’re head isn’t bigger than your character, then it means you’re always going to be a student of the game. The best of the best are always learning. That’s why they’re the best, not because one day they accomplished some great feat. It’s their own personal journey getting to that feat and it doesn’t stop, ever.
Come ready to learn, come in hungry, come in excited and come in ready to work your ass off, to build discipline, none like you’ve ever understood and to value patience. Training your body starts with patience and knowledge. Then you learn the next step:
2. Learn to Love The Process
Don’t get fixated on the goal as much as the everyday challenges you must overcome towards that goal. Its the quickest way we tend to get overwhelmed and start tripping over our own feet and why we are so quick to quit. Basically, love this life, this art, this plan you are architecting. Get excited the moment the alarm goes of each morning, ready to workout, ready to get more fit, stronger, healthier than the day before!
Give thanks every morning for having these challenges ahead of you that will make you stronger and better. Love the fact that you know it’s going to be a grind. You know it’s going to be hard at times and you won’t have anything in you and fall in love with overcoming each time you say I can’t, and turn into “I will” and fall in love with that feeling each and every time you did. Get addicted to the process of getting fit and strong, but first:
3. Know Your Goals
You can’t love the process if you don’t have a goal. And if you don’t know your goals, learn what your goals are. Nowadays, with Instagram and almost the entire free world posting big wins, small wins, and body shots of their fitness progress, it’s a safe bet, you know what bodies and athletes you admire most. Take the time and write down your measurable goals. Be specific. Be realistic.
Adding 40 pounds of muscle in 2 months is not realistic or safe. Adding 10 pounds in two months with an increase in calories and proper training and a focused plan is a very real tangible goal. Set a goal and work backwards, tracking each week, each month and each and every single day. And once you set a goal, you need a plan.
4. Educate Yourself As Much As Possible
Now that we established we all know nothing. And we have a goal, it’s time to learn. The first thing I’ll tell you is if you want this better quality of life, and to be healthier and stronger, then your best bet is to get yourself a trainer.
I’m a trainer and I can tell you working with someone who has years of experience going through the trials and error so you don’t, speeds up the process towards your goals three times faster, and in case you try to do it on your own, injury is more likely. However, youtube, books, are all great tools.
I can tell you about proper stretching, warm-ups, increasing your pulmonary system, cool downs and technique. I could talk about movement patterns, and understanding the process of building stability and strength and introducing power soon after. It’s all important. It’s all crucial. But words don’t mean much if you don’t know proper execution.
Get a trainer and get educated. Invest in yourself. Invest in learning as much as possible. It will be worth it. Remember to go in with the mindset of being a student of the game and begin building your treasure chest of muscle memory that begins with the first day.
5. Track Your Progress & Track Your Failures
Once you have your goals written down, and you’re set with a plan in motion, now you have to track everything. You’re going to need to be accountable. And saying you will is just wasting your time. Track your physical progress, track your mental progress, track your emotional progress. Track your misses and your pizza face stuffing days and how you feel the next day. It sounds like a lot doesn’t it.
Especially when you don’t have any emotional progress, because maybe you still live at home or you’re still coasting just a little bit on Netflix and video games. So change is upon you and with change comes a responsibility of getting over yourself and accepting that this will be uncomfortable.
Track your process. Use Instagram. Create a fitness page, personal or private. If the idea of doing it feels uncomfortable, then get uncomfortable and watch yourself begin to grow. This is part of the process. Love this process. And every time you miss a workout because something happen to you that you’ll forget in a week, track that also. Within each failure lies a lesson, but without a record, it never existed.
6. Get Serious About What You’re Feeding Your Body
In all seriousness, I love Doritos just as much as the next Netflix binge watcher, but those chips are not really doing anyone any favours, neither are the large cheese stuffed crust pizzas and pint’s of Half-Baked cookie dough from Ben and Jerry's. I’m not saying you should begin eating like a rabbit. But food is supposed to help us, not hurt us. You need to start upping the anti on the leafy green and anti-oxidants.
Focus on eating more quality protein like eggs, chicken and and the right kind of protein supplement. Maybe you’re not drinking enough water, and that’s extremely important as well. If time is an issue, learn to meal prep, have protein shakes on hand and pay attention to your body. It talks to you. It tells you what food is hurting you every single time. It tells you when this food makes me feel light, and strong and energetic.
That’s why it’s important to set goals, create a plan and track everything. Your nutrition is the glue that holds it all together and without it, all the effort you put into your training will never fully be realized to what potential you can actually accomplish.
7. Connect to Your Reward System For Reaching Your Goals
This is the beautiful science of habits. Every habit has a cue and reward for accomplishment. Its the link in our brains that give us just enough motivation to get our butts in the gym and stay away from eating that entire cheesecake. Steamed broccoli Mmm. Connecting to that reward is important to building the right kind of habits.
I could easily tell you the reward is in the body you build, and being healthier and feeling more alive and honestly, it should be, but that will come in time and maybe that’s enough. If you need something else, how about fitting into that dress, or suit or pair of jeans you saw in the store that will show off your new butt, legs, arms and chest. Your reward isn’t the “matter” at hand, but the energy, or emotional connection we feel towards that accomplishment.
There you have 7 tips to get you started. Follow these lessons and take them with a grain of salt. It’s a big world and there’s a lot of information. Listen to your gut and chase your goals with a vengeance. It will keep you going. There’s no end. It’s a lifestyle!