NO PAIN NO GAIN: Getting Started at the Gym
Contributed by: Brandon Ruchin
“Three more… 2 more come on, push! Last rep, get it up. Nice, take a break, grab some water.” This is one of the many things that you will hear once stepping foot in a gym. I’ve been involved in the gym and physical fitness almost my entire life, and the thing I notice the most over my years in the gym is that I know the regulars like the back of my hand. Whenever someone new comes in, I assume they won a free three months or were conned into going by a nagging family member.
Physical & Mental Health
The gym has not always been about improving my physical body but my state of mind. After a long stressful day, there’s nothing I love more than going in and throwing around a bunch of heavy weights. It’s a lot better than hitting my boss! But the biggest common factor I find when talking to people that lose their groove with the gym is consistency.
With anything that we strive to get better at, it takes consistency. Want to speak better Spanish? Practice in public or utilize friends and family that are fluent. Want to get better at basketball? Go to an empty court and shoot 500 shots before leaving while working on some dribble moves. The gym is no different.
Nowadays, the problem is that with all sorts of social media and magazines, so many people (especially the younger generation) think that you can walk into a gym for three weeks and turn into the Incredible Hulk. I wish that that was the case. It takes a lot more dedication than doing a couple of bicep curls and pushups for a week. Everything you see online is filtered, or people that are lifting are juiced up to the max on all sorts of PEDs (steroids).
Learning is Key
When starting in the gym, I didn’t know where to start. What protein offers the most grams per serving? What supplements are the best? What gym gives the best offers? How many times should I do legs a week? Do I buy Gymshark or Nike? So many questions! But I did (and still do) so much research. Besides asking those in the gym, I asked questions on everything from lifting down to how much rice you put in your meals. This may seem funny, but I wanted to learn. I felt like a sponge, ready to take in every and all knowledge possible to kickstart my adventure to getting my body in the best shape possible.
The biggest thing I would recommend if you’re new to the gym or getting back into the swing of things is to ask questions. There are no dumb questions; there is nothing to be ashamed of when learning about something new. We aren’t all-knowing, but also there is always room for a learning opportunity.
I started going online and looking at how to gain weight, movements for various exercises, and the best exercise for each muscle group. My search history for the first three consistent months in the gym was filled with research papers and blogs on things that struck my curiosity, along with YouTube being my best friend, helping me with videos on form and nutrition.
Not Seeing Results? Think Nutrition.
The gym is a two-sided coin. Going to the gym and getting a good workout in is the head side; there must be a tail. The tail happens to be nutrition in itself. While I wish I could have an amazing workout and then go down an entire pizza while expecting to get super strong, that isn’t necessarily the case. There are countless people that I talk to that say, “I’ve been working out for two months and aren’t seeing any real progress. What more can I do?”. Whenever I get this question, I immediately go to nutrition. What are they eating? How much are they eating? Are they eating the right foods along with the right balance of food?
In nutrition, three main macronutrients make up our diet. They are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Along with micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, that’s a conversation for a different day. If you look at any nutrition label, you will find labels such as calories, total fat, total carbohydrates, sugar, protein, sodium, and vitamin percentage. This label is very important to personal trainers and health coaches to keep their clients within their caloric intake. Doing this will ensure their clients won’t go over what they should be having and won’t undereat and lose their progress.
Using these nutrition labels will vastly improve your ability to keep track of your nutrition and monitor your daily intake if you’re starting. These labels are also based on a two thousand calorie diet a day. Use this golden rule if you’re starting. Track your caloric intake for the entire week, every day. If you want to lose weight, cut 500-1000 calories out of your diet a day. If you want to gain weight, then up your calorie intake to 500-1000 extra calories a day.
All in All
Keep it simple, and have fun! Going to the gym should be challenging but also fun. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work pay off. So get in the gym, start cooking some great meals, and get to a place you didn’t think you would be possible!
And if you want to keep taking better care of your body, read our article on Better Sleeping Hygiene.