A common reason for getting into weight training and hitting the gym is that people are not happy with the shape that they are in; they're not happy with the body that they have. So with this reasoning so commonplace, why do so many people fail to achieve the body and shape that they want/deserve? This article will examine some of what I feel are the biggest obstacles between people and their ideal body shape. Not all of these will apply to you, but I reckon anyone who has been training for a while will be familiar with at least some of what I will be talking about.
1. Do you know what you want?
Maybe one of the reasons that you're not happy with what you're achieving in the gym is that you don't know EXACTLY what you're working towards. Transforming your physique is a long and arduous process. It is easy to lose sight of what originally drove you to begin training when faced with week after week of pounding the weights and killing the cardio. So how can we combat this? First of all you need to be aware of some of the facts about the way in which most peoples' bodies will respond to training.
The average trainer who is eating a solid diet which is designed for their goals is likely to gain or lose between 1-2lb's per week. It is possible to gain or lose more, but the higher the number, the lower the quality of the result (i.e: gaining more fat than muscle or losing more muscle than fat). With this in mind if you set you're starting at 150 lbs and your goal weight is 250 lbs, focusing on the end goal will quickly get you disillusioned and depressed at your lack of progress. What you need to do is keep your overall goal (250 lbs, Brad Pitt abs) but break it down into smaller goals and set yourself targets around these.
Now these targets will need to be SMART.
So if you are 150 lbs looking to get to 250 lbs, you could set yourself an initial goal of 175lbs in 3 months' time. This would be around 1-2 lbs per week of weight gain. It is specific, easily measurable with weekly weigh-ins, it is achievable and realistic as it is within the realms of what the body can produce with the right diet and it is time-bound as you have set yourself a 3 month limit. Obviously you will still have your overall goal of 250 lbs but that's long term. This shorter term goal gives you something to strive for and will also give you a real sense of achievement when you achieve it, giving you more enthusiasm and energy to go after the next step towards the body that you want.
2. Why do you want it?
So now you know what your perfect body looks like let's look at why it's your goal. There are many good reasons to want to transform your body and I'm not here to list them for you. What I am going to talk about is how to avoid picking the wrong reasons and also why that's important. Any kind of full body transformation takes time and effort. As I mentioned above, your overall goal could take you years to get to. If you're to stay motivated for that long, your motivation better be something solid, tangible and durable which is why I would encourage people to look for internal motivation rather than external.
If you're looking to lose weight because to attract a specific person at work or school, or for a holiday or event that's not going to keep you going. Yes it will drive you now but give it a month or two and you'll have forgotten them. Bearing in mind that your perfect body is going to take years of work, that sort of motivation just won't cut it. You have to want to improve YOURSELF. Other people, friends, family, loved ones will obviously help and support you but they won't be lifting the weights or pedaling the exercise bike for you.
3. How are you going to go about it?
So you've got your goal and your motivation sorted, now you need a plan. Find a gym that's easy for you to get to, friendly and well-equipped. Decide how many times per week you will be visiting and plan those sessions into your diary as if they were a work meeting or a social event. That way you'll be less likely to skip sessions. Once you've decided on your schedule, have a look at the M&S workouts section and choose one which fits with your goals AND your experience levels. When choosing a routine it's probably best to err on the side of caution to begin with. If you're not sure if you're beginner or intermediate, there's no harm in doing a beginner routine first and then going up to intermediate later.
4. Are you thinking BIG?
The Internet is a wonderful place and has a LOT of information. For the new trainer, your own curiosity CAN be your worst enemy. To begin with there is a lot to be said for closing your eyes to all of the complicated articles and theories floating around on supplement timing, advanced lifting techniques and the like. To sum up I think a new trainer needs to avoid getting bogged down with obsessively worrying about every detail and just think BIG.
This can be applied to lots of facets of training: when choosing a routine think BIG: compound moves are much better muscle builders than isolation. When planning your diet, think BIG: don't get lost in counting every calorie just work out your BMR, add 500 calories to bulk (get bigger) or subtract 500 to cut (get smaller). Divide those calories up over 5-6 meals and try to get between 1-1.5 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight. More details on planning a diet can be found here: Creating a Bodybuilding Diet.
5. Have you joined the forum?
Muscle and Strength is the best place on the 'net for natural trainers. Come and join us, we'll be glad to offer you support and help with any of your training queries and you may even teach us something as well :-)