Congratulations, you’ve decided to start hitting the gym and craft that perfect physique to gain some self-confidence or even impress that girl in your class. Whatever your motivation, there are a few tips to keep in mind when first stepping foot in the gym.
Before we start, it is crucial to mention that most of your gains will occur during your first year of lifting (AKA noobie gains). Thus, it is imperative that you implement these tips to ensure you maximise your progress in the gym.
Firstly, become informed. This is by no means an all-inclusive guide for first timers. There are many sources to expand your training knowledge. Hiring a fitness coach, watching YouTube videos and browsing the web are all great methods to provide you with a level of guidance in the gym. You can use these sources to learn about how to perfect your form, choose the right workout split or what exercises to perform. It may seem overwhelming once you start learning, but I can assure you that armed with this information, you are at a significant advantage to your peers who failed to conduct their due diligence. This is because you’ll make smarter decisions in the gym optimising your muscle development and preventing your risk of injury.
Secondly, frequency is king. Since you are a beginner, it is pivotal you get your body used to performing the exercise and feeling the stress on the muscle. You may see a plethora of opinions online, however, we recommend a full body workout three times a week. This may seem like a lot, but since you are training your entire body, the amount of volume per muscle group would be much less compared to training a single muscle group per workout. As much as us gym bros like to think that we can go hardcore in the gym every day, rest is paramount for optimal muscle growth and recovery. Thus, we propose one or two rest days in between your full body workouts. This higher frequency will allow you to adapt quicker to the movement and acquire what’s called neurological efficiency or muscle memory, a form of procedural memory that creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems and improves your muscle retention abilities. Once you feel comfortable performing the exercises and the movement pattern has been ingrained, you can scale back the frequency to once or twice a week and bump up the volume.
Lastly, like doing anything for the first time, it is critical to take it easy and slow. Loading the bar with preposterous amounts of weight and training to utter failure, is the fastest way to get yourself injured. Use a weight that you can handle comfortably and perform 8 – 12 reps, leaving a few reps left in the tank. Once you have introduced it to the movement with low to moderate intensity and familiarised yourself with the motion, you can slowly increase the weight as well as the intensity as your body is constantly adapting.
Whatever your motivation for hitting the gym for the first time, abiding by these three guidelines will ensure you develop a strong foundation and maximise your muscle growth. By becoming more informed, hitting the gym frequently and performing exercises steadily with perfect form, you place yourself in a position where you can train smarter and more consistently, allowing you to start packing on crazy amounts of mass in no time.