Last updated on February 8, 2016 | Follow @deanyeong on Twitter
If you’re completely satisfied with your health and fitness, this article is not for you. But for the rest of you who have any slight thought of improving your fitness level, I’m writing this for you.
I started my fitness journey since 5 years ago but only get to learn and accept these truths 2 years back. And that is a completely different journey and experience since then.
Getting into the gym, working out and improving your fitness are just like most things in life. Most of the time (all of the time), it boils down to mastering the basics.
And here are the 5 exercise tips, fitness basics, and training essentials that most people are not willing to accept but everyone should follow, especially when you’re just getting started.
Get the basics right and use these tips as the foundation of your fitness approach, it will help you to gain results faster and assist you along your fitness journey.
Most of the programs, supplements and products out there are promoting fast results. We want to make money faster, lose weight quicker, and boost our performance instantly. And most people workout with a short-term goal in mind.
But I like to look at fitness as a long-term journey. Just like the quote – “success is not a destination, success is a journey.”
What this really mean? Rather setting up defined goals first, thinking about the purpose from the start.
The approach here is not to abandon defined goals at all, but to understand why and have a clearer picture for your small action plans. Never overly focus on short-term goals, and instead put your focus on the process.
The results will come.
If you are – consciously or subconsciously – trying to ignore the first truth, you will find this second one very hard to accept too.
I started training a few years back when I have enough with my excess body fat. I look bad and very unhappy with the way people around treating me. So, I go online to search for a solution, a FAST solution.
Doing 12 different workouts in a session is simply ridiculous – for me now. The truth is – what works for the fittest guy in the gym might not work for you now; they went through the basics too. Or simply having a better genetics than most of us.
Too many people have no idea what they are doing in the gym. Doing a little bit of this then hop on to another machine for that. Fortunately, there is a rule for the best workout you should put your focus on.
When I talk about the best workouts, I mean movements that make you moves more – putting larger stress on your body, train your body more efficiently and bring incredible results in shorter time.
Here is short list the best workout I recommend you to include in every session of your routine:
If you read most of my articles before, you will know that I highly recommend bodyweight training – gymnastics and calisthenics, powerlifting and weightlifting.
You can search these categories on Google and YouTube to learn more about these movements in different techniques and variations.
How you justify when you have a good workout session? Ask most people in the gym, they will tell you “feel the pump!” or “I lift until I hit failure!” I believe we all had come across the quote – No Pain, No Gain – and thought that muscle soreness is the only parameter to consider they had a good session.
The approach of muscle soreness is just one small aspect in the overall fitness context. I can’t argue that “No Pain, No Gain” is a false statement, but they are not always right in the long-term perspective.
Just like building a business, sales and marketing are important, but you can’t solely focus on that with full intensity all the time. Again, it’s a long-term process.
Too many people are giving the advice to lift the heaviest the possible and push yourself near to failure. But training to fatigue actually wear you out and increase the chances of injury.
The best approach is to start light and focus on your posture, understand the movement requirement for each workout and spend the time to perfect it. Then slowly increase the volume (amount of set and repetition), and finally, get to heavier weights (higher intensity) in perfect form.
I was not good at pull-up at all. Some people might force himself to get into 4 sets of 12 reps in poor form. But I did it differently – I started with some simpler form of progressive movement first, then get into pull-up in very low reps (about 5 sets of 3 reps). My goal is to have perfect posture in every repetition.
Now, I am very happy with my pull-up posture and was able to do 4 sets of 8 reps with perfect form. I’m looking forward to increasing my number of repetition to 15 reps per set. Next, make it more challenging by adjusting my grip or adding external weights (weight vest).
This approach applies on weightlifting too, I learned about this from my previous 5×5 powerlifting routine. Start with lightweight (even I can lift heavier), focus on the movement and posture, set up my progress to increase the intensity every week.
What’s the biggest difference between top performers and achievers with those who failed? Top entrepreneurs, actors, and athletes have a plan, and most of us are not.
Now you know what to do, but you need to know when to do it. Let me ask you, what is the reason you head to gym previous time? If your answer is because you watch a motivational video, or have an intense feeling to make changes, or it’s January, then you are bounced to fail.
Plan your workout session, know what to do, get clear with the volume and intensity you’re going to train on that particular day. Most importantly, schedule a specific location and time for that.
I workout every morning before I head to work because that’s the time I feel the most energetic – personally found out that working out in the morning suit best to me. Of course, you can always schedule what works best for you.
The point is to plan and set a schedule. Think about top entrepreneurs, actors, and athletes, they don’t just go through their days without any pre-plan schedule. Successful entrepreneurs don’t run their business only when they feel motivated; famous actors/actress don’t just get straight to filming without thousand hours of practice, and athletes surely don’t sit back and watch motivational videos to win their gold medals.
So as you! If you’re serious about your health and fitness, make it a priority in your life, just like anything else. Take a closer look, you might agree that you need to work hard daily in order to raise your family, simply because your family and income are sitting at the top of your priority list. So if you really want to achieve a certain fitness goal, make it a priority, plan and schedule time for it.
The next part is to record your workout. Break your long-term goal down into “not-smaller-goal”, but progress parameter that you can measure. It can be the number of sets, the number of repetitions, or the intensity.
State down how much you lift this week in details, then review your plan and improve your lifts either on posture, volume or intensity for the next week.
All the points I covered above might make you feel like you should take it easy, or workout should be easy without any extra effort. I will say you get me right here but at the same time wrong.
Commit for long-term, focus on best exercise, posture first, and plan for your routine doesn’t mean it should be easy without any improvement. What I proposed above is to reduce the stress – mentally and emotionally – on the fitness journey.
But the true is, our body still need an optimal amount of stress to grow. Most people get to the gym doing the same thing day in and day out, same workout, same routine, same weight without any progress.
To achieve your fitness goals, take the journey slow by focusing on the basics but make sure you are progressing at the same time. Make it a point to lift a little heavier than past week, and do that again for the next week.
Next, always remember that there is always a setback. Everybody, at some points, will hit a plateau with their journey, feeling demotivate, not sure what to do next – this is not the failure. This is the best time for you to reflex and move to the next stage.
Fail to perform or execute your plan is just a setback, the true failure comes only when you decide to throw the white towel, stop trying and basically telling everyone, especially yourself that you’re giving up.
Therefore, set your mind straight, always accept setbacks and progress slowly.
You can spend your entire time watching motivational videos, or learning how to perform a biceps curl in multiple angles. But what really will lead you to your fitness success is these 6 truths written down here.
Take your time to review your overall plan and strategies for your fitness journey. To make this piece of article much useful, here are a few action steps you can start taking today to master these 6 fitness tips:
What do you learn from your fitness experience? What truth do you think everyone should follow? Feel free to comment below and let me know. And do you have any friend you think should read about this? Share this to them.
One more thing… Happy lifting (or training, I’m not lifting at the moment).
Footnote: Featured on Thought Catalog as 5 Fundamental Fitness Truths that No One is Willing to Accept.