I’ve been there… and it sucks. I busted my ass at the gym and with nothing to show for it. Hoping that one day the results I wanted would turn up, I carried on going. If I’m determined and persistent they’ve got to right? (or so I thought).
A couple of years passed and I realised that I had made little to no progress… I decided I had enough, and started researching and experimenting.
What I learned was life changing. I hit my training goals and made more progress in 10 months than in 5 years of training (no bullshit)! It’s a shame now when I see people in the same position that I was in.
If only they knew a few key things, they would be able to accelerate their training and get the results they want; without the wasted years of trial and error.
Don’t work your ass off for zero or minimal results. You owe it to yourself to get the most out of the time you put in. If not, you could still look virtually the same and be happier without having to workout anyway!
To help you out, I’ve listed 7 vital mistakes that newbies make when training. This will help you along your way to attaining that chiselled built body you’ve been searching for.
1) Not Enough Frequency
The frequency of training is one of the most important factors. Here’s what my routine previously looked like;
Monday– Chest and Triceps, Wednesday- Back and Biceps, Friday- Shoulders and Legs.
Sound familiar? This routine is a common bodybuilding split. Now this is okay… if you’re advanced or on steroids. For the newbie natural trainee, this routine sucks. Let me explain why.
Protein synthesis is the window in which our muscles build. Research shows that protein synthesis increases by 50% the following 4 hours after heavy resistance training.
It then increases to 109% after 24hours. It returns back to baseline after around 36hours. (1)
So what does this show us?
The research shows that our bodies are not actually building any more muscle than on non-training days after about a 2 day period. Everything returns back to normal but, if you’re on steroids this protein synthesis window can last up to one week.
So why the heck would a natural trainee workout a body part (for example chest) on Monday, then wait 1 whole week to train the muscle again? It doesn’t make any sense.
So you need to train a muscle group at least twice a week. This can be done by a simple upper and lower body split workout program or a full body training program.
2) The Wrong Exercises
Compound movements are exercises that use more than one joint to perform. Compounds are essential for getting results. They should be the main chunk of your workout if not 100% of it.
Compound movements got me serious results once I went ‘all in’ on them. These are exercises like bench press, squats, deadlifts, dips, pull ups etc. Here are a few reasons why you should be doing compound movements for the ultimate results;
- Compound movements use multiple muscle groups. This makes them superior to the isolation movements such as bicep preacher curls or leg extension machines.
- They lead to better protein synthesis and more hormone release due to the overall stress they put on the multiple muscle groups.
- This, in turn, gives us greater strength and muscular gains.
- They also develop your core strength
3) Not Overloading
Before, when I bench pressed, I would use a weight that I could just about lift. When I came to increase the weight, I would add 5 kg/11 lbs to each side.
I would attempt to lift it and fail miserably. I would then drop the weight back down to the previous weight. Everytime I tried to go up in weight, I kept trying to increase the weight by 5kg/11lbs and I always failed, forcing me to drop the weight back down again.
Doing this kept me lifting the same weight for years and I was stuck in the same vicious cycle. Needless to say, this annoyed the crap outta me and knocked my confidence.
I realised that I needed to use ‘progressive overload’. This is increasing the amount of weight over time. They key to progressive overload is the use of ‘microplates’. These are the smallest plates weighing 1.25 kg/2.7 lbs.
When you increase weight by 5 kg/11 lbs each side, it’s such a big increase that it shocks the body, forcing the body to shut down. Causing you to fail the lift (cue the trombone- wa wa wa waaaaa)
However, when you add a microplate to each side, it tricks the body. The difference is so small that your body hardly registers an increase and therefore lifts the weight.
I went from barely squatting 60kg/135 lbs to 100kg/220lbs in a few short months by the use of progressive overload and adding micro plates (this was a huge improvement for me)
4) Not Bracing
Before I learned how to train properly I always heard a term getting thrown around… What was it? it was, ‘brace your core’…. Even though I heard it, I never really truly understood what it meant.
When I started performing compound movements like the squat and pull ups etc, I started to really grasp the concept. And the results? I gained a boat load of strength and my lifts went up in weight quicker than I could wink.
Bracing the core creates stiffness in an area that normally does not have stiffness. Power can only be moved along a kinetic chain through a core that is tight.
Steps for bracing;
- Take a deep breath into the belly just before the lift you’re performing.
- This will cause the diaphragm to rise.
- Push your abs outward.
- Hold the core tight.
- Start the lift.
5) Not Squeezing
Many newbies miss this principle (I did too). Full range of motion involves stretching the muscle fully on the eccentric portion of a lift. It leads to greater strength and muscle size.
This was shown in a study where test subjects in two groups were put through leg workout experiment.
Group A performed the exercises with a full range of motion, whilst group B performed partial reps.
- The results were that after the 12 weeks the strength and size of the muscle was greater in the group with the longer range of motion (A).
- They also found that group A had a greater reduction in fat stores in the affected muscles. So if you’re performing an exercise make sure you get a full stretch before you start to contract!
In addition, when performing a lift on the contraction phase, it is important to really ‘squeeze’ the muscle at the end point. Often newbies will simply just ‘push’ the weight mindlessly; focusing more on their next rep.
This takes the emphasis and concentration off the present rep. Squeezing the muscle at the end point forces more blood into the fibers, which then causes a greater degree of microtrauma. This, in turn, leads to greater muscle hypertrophy (size).
I generally thought the longer I trained the more beneficial it was for me. Boy was I wrong…. When you start training your body will naturally boost testosterone levels . These levels peak around 30 min into your workout.
Your testosterone levels start to come back down to baseline at around the 45 min mark of working out. After 60 minutes your body will start to produce less testosterone and more cortisol (not good, cortisol is the stress hormone that eats muscle tissue and increases body fat storage!).
So, spending hours in the gym working out is about as useful as an inflatable dartboard . You need to get in, warm up properly, smash your workout and leave.
45 minutes of training is a good benchmark. I noticed significant results when I switched from spending an hour and a half in the gym (looking back that seems batshit crazy now!) to training intensely for 45 mins.
7) Body fat Percentage
I want to mention something that is very important for the beginner. When I started researching I came across a term called ‘skinny fat’.
This is where you look skinny with a t-shirt on but when it comes off, you have a round flabby belly. And that was me all over. I always saw myself as average but I never realised that in the bodybuilding world I was fat.
To be able to see all the muscular contours of the body you need to be at around 10% body fat for men and around 16% for women. Every human has 6 pack abdominals but most of us have a layer of fat covering them.
To be able to see the abs and other muscular contours of the body you need to lose the extra fat first. Once I understood this I started making amazing progress in developing the body I desired. You can check out this post ‘How I got a six pack without cardio’ for the full instructions of what I did to get the physique I wanted.
On the other hand, if you’re skinny, you need to eat to build muscle. You need to eat at least 500 kcals more than your daily maintenance calorie level. If you find it difficult to eat read this post- ‘How to put on 15-30lbs in 30days- GOMAD method.’
If this all seems a bit overwhelming for you, you can get a free custom workout plan designed around your desired goals by signing up to the Modest Dragon Free Newsletter; via the form on the bottom or top right of the page. I will also calculate your daily maintenance level and how many calories you will need to help you reach your goal.
(Oh yeah, you will also get an awesome report 18-page free report; ‘5 Secret Tips Enabling You to Instantly Throw a Devastating Knockout Punch!’)
So there are the 7 Vital Mistakes That Newbie’s Make When Training! Please avoid these mistakes, don’t make the same mistakes I made for years. If you avoid these mistakes, you will definitely see some impressive results!
Feel free to leave your comments below and if you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org