There is no denying that the world of fitness is filled with immense amounts of information! Believe me, when I was a beginner, I found myself overwhelmed by the pool of knowledge and information that I was presented with. I scoured through book after book, magazine after magazine, and article after article trying to make sense of training programs and dieting. As a newbie in the world of fitness, it can sometimes be discouraging (and even misleading) to be thrown into such a large pool of knowledge. Here, I have identified a few common mistakes that beginners make with regards to training, dieting, and supplementation in hopes that you beginners out there will be able to avoid some of the most prevalent, basic mistakes that I have seen around the gym these days.
Cheating refers to the practice of a trainee using weights that are too heavy to lift; oftentimes, exercise form is completely sacrificed. We’ve all seen the heros in the gym leaning back and throwing their bodies into biceps curls, thrusting their hips high into the air as they bounce the barbell off of their chests during bench presses, and squatting through about a 10% range of motion. Not only will cheating limit your gains, but it can lead to injury! Make sure that you learn how to properly perform exercises in your program and use light weights until you have mastered the form of a motion. Once this mastery is attained, gradually bump up the weights in such a way so as to allow yourself to complete the prescribed number of repetitions without compromising form throughout a set. It takes discipline, but certainly pays off in the end! Always remind yourself that cheating will not only hinder your gains, but it will make you look silly. Nobody (NOBODY) likes to see some bro screaming his head off as he “curls” 70-pound dumbbells with atrocious form!
The Rep Range Myth
I have heard many new fitness enthusiasts discussing their belief that using lower rep ranges will cause fat gain and using higher rep ranges will lead to fat burning. To be frank, I have no idea where this myth came from, but it could not be any further from the truth! Understand that your diet is the most important determinant in how much muscle you gain and how much fat you shred. I don’t care what rep ranges you train with, if you eat pizza five times a day, YOU WILL GET FAT. Regardless of what your fitness goals are, it is important to mix up your exercises, techniques, and rep ranges in order to stimulate new growth in your body. The human body is very adaptive, so make sure that you are constantly throwing it new stimuli!
Reliance Upon Supplements
Every muscle magazine these days is filled with ads for protein powders, fat burners, amino acids, deer antler velvet, shark cartilage, male enhancement, and other general tomfoolery that may cause you to lose track of what’s important. Without proper diet and training, supplementation will not get you anywhere! Supplements are named aptly, as they are meant to SUPPLEMENT an already sound regimen. So, make sure that your diet and training are on point before considering supplementation. A lot of the prominent supplement companies spend a lot of money in order to attract the top fitness superstars to represent their brands. Many supplement labels also make a great deal of exaggerated claims in order to obtain your business. I mean heck, I once saw a pill bottle that told me it could increase my bench press by 1000% in just 3 weeks! If only… sigh… Before you buy any supplements, make sure that you do adequate research and inform yourself fully about the product you are considering. This practice will save you a lot of money down the line!
Many people think dieting means that you can’t enjoy food (or life) anymore. They starve themselves throughout the day and, as a result, are always hungry and irritable. It does not have to be this way! Split your meals into smaller portions and eat several times a day to keep your metabolism burning. This will also help you to feel more satiated (full) throughout the day. In actuality, if you starve yourself, your body will hold onto any fat that it has and you will instead lose muscle. This is very unhealthy and, unless you’re weird, an undesirable result. Find a caloric intake and macronutrient distribution that works with your body. Experiment in order to find this balance. And then stay consistent with it to lose body fat.
Neglecting Carbohydrates and Fats
There are three key macronutrients to consider when forming a diet: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All three macros are essential in forming any healthy and effective diet, whether the diet deals with mass gain or fat loss. However, the “bro” universe has begun to revolve around protein and many trainees now diet by consuming as much protein as humanly possible without paying any regard to the other two important elements of the diet. Carbohydrates are our bodies’ main source of fuel and, without them, the body would need to use other sources for energy. This can become problematic and cause fatigue, as the body would have a scarcity of glycogen. Fats are also essential to good health. Ensure that you are getting your fats from healthy sources, such as olive oil and nuts. Avoid trans fats at all costs. They are the enemy and, if you eat them, bad things will happen.
Ultimately, no matter how much we all research, there will always be more information out there. The keys in fitness are to find what works for you (every individual is different) and making sure that you are staying consistent. I know bodybuilders that get shredded by eating ice cream every night. I know a marathoner that eats a whole pizza ninety minutes before he runs his races. I know a guy who put on fifty pounds of muscle without ever working out. Ok, that last one was a lie. There are many helpful articles out there, but you should use them merely as a guide. Remember that nothing ever happens overnight, so do not get discouraged by the amount of information out there and remember the tips I mentioned above!