Lifting: the art of putting things up and putting them down. Pumping the iron can change the way you look at life in and out of the gym. Plus, it gives you a nice butt. Whether you want to start a quest for a banging body, a stronger work load, or just for general health and wellness. Here’s five tips to get you on the right track as you start your fitness journey.
Eat according to your goals
They say abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. This could not be any more true. In a world of fad diets and “no carbs after 6 p.m.”, it’s hard to know what will work for you. What you want to do is determine your daily calories from your Total Daily Energy Expendature (TDEE) using one of the many calculators online. This takes your Resting Metabolic Rate and adds whatever you may burn from what you do during the day. From there, you should determine your macronutrient breakdown.
The three macronutrients (or macros, as you may hear them referred to commonly) are fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Protein is the most important of the three, as it maintains and builds your muscle mass. Scientific articles suggest that anywhere from 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is optimal for those who weight train.
Dietary fat is also important, as it regulates hormones and promotes heart health, amongst other things. Many sources suggest that your fat intake should be pegged around 0.45-.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, So don’t fear the fat!
All of this math sound daunting? Fear not! There are macro calculators that set you up with your minimum requirements for your fat and protein that you can adjust. Long story short: Hit your calorie and your protein/fat requirements, and you’ll be on the path to sweet gains.
Focus on form, not weight
In fitness, people talk about lifting heavy as something of an essential for progress. While it is true, you want to lift heavy with PROPER FORM. When you lift with bad form, you risk slower development, ridicule, and, most importantly, injury. You cannot add more weight when you are nursing a herniated disk or pectoral tear.
What you want to do is start with a comfortable, yet challenging weight. When that becomes too easy, that’s when you move the weight up. Listening to your body is also important, as there will be some days where you won’t be feeling heavier weights.
Just remember, you want to keep yourself healthy and injury free!
Do what works for you
Let me be the first to tell you, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to lifting and fitness in general. You may see people say things like “your feet are too spread out” or “you cannot eat that because XYZ.” Different things work for different people.
Want to be a powerlifter? Sure. Bodybuilder? Cool. Crossfitter? Why not? You shouldn’t obsess over what others say is “the only way.” It is good, however, to accept criticism if it is constructive. Like with most things, you need to find that happy medium and find out what works best for you.
None of these tips matter if you do not put them into practice. The only way that you will find success in the gym and your goals in general is if you keep doing what works on a consistent basis. The reason the “grind” exists is because that consistency will give you the results that you desire.
Think of the people who make that resolution year after year to become healthy, lean, or strong, but only to stop out of nowhere. To do this is a commitment, a part of your life. Quitting is the worst thing you can do not only physically, but mentally. Day in and day out, you will need to stick to your game plan and execute it.
This sounds demanding, I know, but this leads into tip number five…
Not only should you be physically flexible, you should also be flexible in life too. I want to emphasize that fitness will be a part of your life, NOT your entire life. You shouldn’t shut yourself off from your friends, family, or co-workers. That is where the negative reputation of this lifestyle is made.
If you are prepping for a bodybuilding contest or powerlifting meet, that’s one thing. If you are doing this to better yourself, you shouldn’t be afraid of missing one training session or an off day of eating. You have the rest of your life. Trust me, the iron will still be there.
Bettering yourself means not only taking care of your body, but also enjoying your life.