If you’re anything like me, you might work out to relieve stress, look better, feel more energised, and sleep better. After a year in the gym, these are the biggest pieces of advice I can give you.
Compounds Before Isolations
I tend to group exercises into muscle groups and work on certain muscle groups in any given workout. The current split is 2-day: Chest/triceps/shoulders, back/biceps, then slide core & legs into whichever works.
When working chest, it’s best to complete your sets of bench presses before focusing on triceps with dumbbells. Similarly, finish your pull-ups before more isolating biceps exercises like bicep curls.
This is because if you ruin your triceps/biceps (in this example), your larger, compound sets won’t be as strong. So think of it this way: start with larger compounds, then focus in on working specific muscles.
Always up the weight. This doesn’t mean pile on more weight when you’re not ready, and drop it on your neck. Just up it slightly when you can.
My friend and I began lifting the same day a year ago. He plateaued, and I kept pushing. Now I can lift ~10kg more, and he’s confused why he hasn’t improved. Progressive overload just means to keep pushing yourself over time, so that your muscles don’t get used to performing the same exercise at the same weight each week.
Don’t Get Too Detailed
It can be fun to track your PBs for each exercise and log each day’s meals to an extent. And monitoring and reflecting on progress helps you plan better. But turning this into a science has 2 dangers:
- Doing it too much is a form of procrastination. Setting goals and milestones is great (see my habits posts), but doing it while avoiding the next set at the gym is daft.
- Getting all OCD with tracking reps and logging food can end up spoiling the fun. When it feels more like a chore, stop!
As Long as It’s Good Food, Eat as Much as You Want
Every few years, a new food becomes public enemy #1. Salt, sugar, fats, butter, etc etc. Truth is, you need salt to live, there are good fats and bad fats, and butter tastes better than margarine.
My rule of thumb is, as long as it’s good food, eat plenty of it without worrying or feeling guilty. Good food is anything that’s not junk food (cake) or fizzy drinks. That sounds so simple, but it works. So eat more real food that’s less processed. Nuts? Yes! Fish? Lots! As long as it’s real food, you have nothing to worry about.