Updated: Jan 22, 2022
When you work out, getting yourself educated and knowing as much as you can is a great way to maximize your gains and make the most out of your hard work. But oftentimes, people aren't told these necessary tips when they start working out. There's nobody to help them out when they first begin.
Sometimes, knowing these tips can be the difference between making noticeable gains and not seeing any progress at all. Without any further hesitation, we'll get right into these vital tips that all beginners should know when it comes to working out, that we wish we'd known sooner!
The 9 Vital Tips All Beginners Should Know
You Need To Reply on Discipline, Not Motivation
When it comes to working out, or really anything in life, being motivated everyday to get up and chase our goals is the best case scenario. It makes the process enjoyable, and has us feeling great all throughout the day.
However, it's important to realize that motivation will not always be present with us. We will not always wake up in the morning, and want to get out of bed. We will not always wake up and feel productive.
Instead, the bed might feel more comfortable than ever before. Our social media feeds might seem more intriguing than they ever have in the past. We'd rather do anything else than work towards our goals.
And these days tend to come more and more often as we chase for longer and longer. But it's on these days that we need to rely on discipline, more than we do on motivation.
If you're asking what the difference is, here it is in a nutshell: motivation is the 'why' of your goal.
Maybe you want to be proud of the way you look in the mirror.
Maybe you want to be a professional cyclist one day.
That's your 'why' and your motivation. At the beginning of your fitness journey, motivation will likely be high. However, as you start to train for longer, and realize how long of a process this is, motivation is sure to start dropping.
Discipline, however, is more so the 'what' of your goal. It's what you're willing to do to reach your goals, and the thing that motivates you. Discipline is your ability to maintain productivity, even when there are voices telling you to do something else.
A good example of the difference between motivation and discipline could be a 9-5 office worker who dreams of stepping onto the pro bodybuilding stage one day.
Stepping on the pro stage (and hopefully placing well) would be the motivation for what this person does.
In order to achieve this, the person might wake up 3 hours before work to fit in a proper gym session, and ensure that rest/nutrition is still on point, juggling all of this. This would be display of the person's discipline.
So learn to rely on discipline. It's going to be the only thing you're left with when motivation runs outs.
And trust us if you haven't already experienced it, it is bound to happen. Everybody loses motivation. So get disciplined. Get yourself a routine. It's the only way you're going to be able to get what you want.
Know Your Limits
It's also important that you know your limits. You know the things that you can and can't do. Many beginners often overestimate their capabilities when it comes to the weight that they can lift, end up injuring themselves, and quickly lose their motivation to keep going without having built any self discipline.
It's important that you start out at the lightest weight possible when doing an exercise and first learning the form.
While any exercise can injure you if done incorrectly, there are some that can cause more serious injuries than others. These would include your heavier compounds, such as your deadlift, squat, bench press, leg press, etc.
If you can, have an experienced lifter with you when you first start out, just to make sure you're using a sensible weight and not lifting with terrible form. If you are not careful, you can seriously injure yourself. We're talking not being able to walk for months, years, and even death in some very extreme cases.
So put the ego aside, and do things safely. Suffering a bad injury can mean all your hard work goes to waste.
While many beginners tend to overestimate their ability, some beginners might underestimate their own capacity, and quickly put a cap on what they can do without actually putting it to the test.
For example, some beginners might immediately assume that they can't do a single pull up and jump straight onto assisted pull ups, when in reality they could bang out 4 or more with decent form.
And while we did say that you should look to use the lightest weight possible to start with, it is safe to try and do a pull up. The chances that you injure yourself (assuming you're not messing around) are low.
This could then go on to limit their gains, whilst their potential to make this progress is at its highest it will ever be naturally.
It's important for beginners to know the things that they can and can't do, so that they don't injure themselves, but don't waste their time in the gym either.
Obviously, it's better to waste a little bit of time than it is to suffer a serious injury.
So on the first few sessions, do think about playing it on the safe side. But if something is safe for you to try, why not do it?
Why not see whether you actually can do a pull up? If you can safely test your limits, don't be afraid to do so.
Don't be Afraid of Being Judged
Fear of judgement seems to plague the souls of poor beginners when it comes to working out. In fact, a survey in 2019 found that 1 in 4 women actually stay away from the gym, in fear of being judged for the way that they look, their choice of clothing, and other things. And according to Independent UK, this number was the highest at 70% in women aged 18-24.
Then, another poll found that 36% of men feel the same way about the gym and being judged. That's a lot of the population that doesn't feel confident enough to start working out!
It's a shame that so many beginners feel this way, because once you start working out, you'll realize that most people aren't actually judging you. Everybody knows what it's like to be a beginner.
The strongest and fittest guys and girls in the room know what it's like to be a beginner. And while there are sadly exceptions, most people are very supportive, and wanting to see you succeed in reaching your goals, whatever they may be.
Just ask any person that has worked out in the gym for at least 6 months. They'll probably tell you that nobody really judges you. Everybody is focused on their own workouts, and most people are in there to get a good session in.
Consistency is Key
If you work out, chances are, you've heard people tell you that you need to work out for a long time to see notable improvements. And this is true. But just how long are they talking? And what else goes into it? Consistency doesn't just mean showing up to the gym every day that you train. It's about getting in there, and giving your best effort, every day that you can.
Sure, maybe once every month or so you'll run into a day where things just don't feel right, and you don't end up having a great workout. Even then, you can give it your best shot, and make the most out of your time spent there. After all, a bad workout is better than no workout.
Consistency means getting into the gym everyday (that you're meant to be training), giving it your best shot, and making sure that you're getting all the other things right as well.
We're talking about getting enough sleep, eating right, and really setting your mind to your goals. You then have to stick to this for at least half a year, and likely around 2 more if you want to really impress yourself and see a huge difference.
Consistency means getting in there, even when there are other things that affect your ability to do so. You can't just head into the gym every so often and expect to see results. It takes years and years of hard, consistent, regular work. You need to be training at least 3 times a week, and hold a consistent routine for a very long period of time.
"Lazy people do a little work and think they should be winning, but winners work as hard as possible and still worry if they are being lazy." - Lewis Caralla
Learn to do Things Safely
No matter how hard you're working, no matter the weight that you're lifting, suffering a serious injury can set you back weeks, months, years, and even for the rest of your life in severe cases.
That's why you should always look to do things safely. Don't try to go heavy on an exercise that you haven't learnt proper form on yet. There's no use trying to boost your gains if you're going to put yourself at risk for an injury. There's nothing in the gym that's so important you can't take the time to do it safely.
Sometimes, that might even mean doing things like unloading a barbell! If you've ever lifted heavy and gotten paranoid that the barbell would fall off the rack and crush your toes during unloading, or punch a hole in the ceiling, you'll know what we're talking about. These things definitely do happen (although they're rare), and you do need to be wary of it.
Trying to do things like unloading a barbell in a rush might result in your toes being crushed, and you not being able to train legs for the next couple of weeks. And for some of you guys out there, that's not something to celebrate guys.
Even if you're doing something as simple as carrying a weight bench around the gym. Trying to do it in a rush could result in dropping it on your feet, or hitting something and smashing it against your body.
Both of these things could affect your ability to train, and are most definitely not worth the rush.
We'll provide you with a list of common everyday tasks that should not be done in a rush. Really, nothing should be. But these would probably be the most common ones.
Putting dumbbells back in the rack (could crush your fingers)
Unloading a barbell (could drop plates or whole bar)
Carrying a bench (could drop it)
Jumping onto a pull up bar (could slip and fall)
Reracking after a set on a smith machine (could slip and get crushed)
Dropping dumbbells after a set
Picking up misplaced equipment
Master the Basic Movements First
While almost all exercises are great and have their time and place, there are a select few that will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of muscle and strength built.
These would be your big compound lifts, such as your barbell back squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, row and pull up.
These are the exercises that you should look to learn and master first. They work the most muscles out of the hundreds of exercises you can possibly perform, and give you the most bang for your buck in that sense.
They help build the foundational strength that you'll need to make total-body strength and size gains.
Muscular hypertrophy is mainly driven by mechanical tension (the load that you place on your muscles), and getting stronger on your compound lifts will allow you to not only use more weight on those exercises, but all your movements across the board.
That's right. The overload you place on your biceps in a pull up will help develop great amounts of bicep strength, and increase your bicep curl numbers as well (although at a slower rate).
So make sure you know the form of your basic and fundamental movements before going crazy on other exercises. As long as it's safe for you to perform these exercises of course. If you've had back injuries in the past, heavy deadlifts probably aren't a smart exercise choice.
Know That You Won't See Results Immediately
The next tip that we can give you is to be realistic about your goals, and your expectations. Some companies might promise you incredible results in 30 days, through the use of headlines such as: 'The 30 push up challenge for a huge chest'. If you've ever tried one of these, you'll know that they don't work.
Sure, continuing to do them for months and years on end might bring about some gains in the mirror, but you still would've had to do a lot of consistent work to get there. It certainly wouldn't have happened over the course of a month.
Many beginners train for the first week, notice that they haven't seen any progress in the mirror, and are quick to assume that their genetics are bad, or that they're 'not built for working out'. This can quickly deplete motivation, and leave beginners questioning whether or not they really want to be training and working out.
While the thought of instant progress is definitely very exciting, it's important to realize that progress will never come quickly, at least not naturally. But even then, you have to train hard, and consistently for your PEDs to have any drastic effects on you in terms of progress.
Instead, beginners need to realize that it's a marathon, not a sprint. They need to realize that it takes years and years of hard work to get where you want to be for most people. You'll see progress along the way, you'll see that you're getting there, but it will take time. A lot of it.
There's no way around this. That's why you'll hear people saying that a strong, well built body is a great indicator of a person's drive and ability to succeed.
No one can do it for you. You can't buy it, you can't really cheat your way to it, and it certainly doesn't come easily.
You're Only Cheating Yourself
When you skip a workout, perhaps on that day when you wake up tired, or the day where you're just busier than usual, you need to think about all the consequences that will come with this.
And while skipping a workout every now and then won't have any serious effects on your gains, adopting the mindset that you can afford to skip workouts likely will.
Many beginners simply do not weigh the consequences of skipping a workout and making excuses when they plan out their days.
Many beginners will simply think: Oh, it's just one day. I'm tired after work anyways. They then go on to use this excuse again later in the week, and repeat this cycle for the following weeks.
Or maybe people will cut their workouts short, and tell themselves that they have tight schedules, when really they're not willing to commit enough into their goals.
A good example of this would be a teenage boy that likes to play video games just starting out.
They might go to the gym after school, but only stay for a fraction of the time that they could do, simply because they have to go home and 'do homework.'
While this may be partially true, let's say the boy spends 2 hours a night on his gaming console. In that case, it is not a matter of time. It's a matter of the commitment and prioritizing of his goals.
See, many beginners simply are not yet willing to commit the necessary time and effort into chasing their goals. People will all have different schedules, and what works for one person might not for another.
But in most cases, there is a way that you can fit your goals into your schedule. In the example above, the boy could easily cut his gaming time by half an hour, and get a proper workout in. Whether he would be willing to or not is the question.
So look carefully at your schedule. Are you really short on time? Or are you letting less important things use it up? Find a way to lessen the time spent on those things if you can! And if you can't, it might mean you need to wake up earlier to get more done.
You don't have to go full-blown at the start, but realize that you get what you put in.
"Excuses sound best to the person that's making them up'. - Tyrese Gibson
Learn to Enjoy the Process
So fitness is about consistency. And it's going to take a long time to get anywhere near your goals if they're big enough.
That's why you need to ensure that you thoroughly enjoy the time you're spending in the gym or out on the training grounds.
Ultimately, the best training program for you is one that you can stick to. It's one that you enjoy doing, and have no problem staying committed to for weeks and months on end.
However, if you pick a program that you don't enjoy doing, you're not going to be able to stick to it.
Also, if you intend to continue working out for life, which we assume you do, you'll have no choice but to enjoy the process. There's no point spending upwards of an hour every day of your life doing something that you don't enjoy.
It just doesn't make sense. Plus, there's no doubt about it, you train harder and better when you enjoy what you're doing.
Fitness is going to take a long time, and you need to like what you're doing. Otherwise, you need to ask yourself whether it's actually worth your time.
You have to commit a lot of time and money into this.
And if it's not something that you can learn to or already enjoy, that's going to be a problem.
So there you have it! The top 9 tips that we wish we knew when we first started working out. Hopefully you've been able to gain something from this post, and are able to incorporate these tips into your own training!
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