Training tips cover a wide range of topics, including the exercises themselves – which and how to perform them, as well as the approach to training – mental attitude and motivation. I believe that separating the mental and physical aspects in the gym is a mistake, so I will touch on both to help you get more out of your workouts and achieve better results.
Before I go any further, it’s worth mentioning that the training tips discussed here, although certainly applicable in any case, are more intended for intermediate-level individuals.
If you’re just starting out with fitness, first check out the posts below.
Training tips and reality
I am not interested in building unrealistic expectations.
Therefore, I remind you, as I do not know who is on the other side of the screen, that training tips are just that – tips. Do not expect implementing them to suddenly turn you into a professional fitness model. Consistency still reigns.
GIF are we clear
However, expect that not making any attempts to optimize your training by following advice will lead to stagnation, or worse, complete abandonment of training.
Okay, let’s move on to the main part of the post, which consists of training tips that, in my experience, are rarely mentioned by others.
Build a ritual
Rituals have accompanied humanity since the dawn of time for a reason. Their purpose is to provide a certain schematization, but also to sanctify events that are important to us from a cultural perspective.
GIF ancient ritual
The thing with a ritual, it’s a bit like it’s both necessary and needed to consider something complete. It would be completely unnecessary and impractical to surround everything we do with rituals, but there are contexts in which it is a useful mental mechanism that supports our actions.
The rituals I’m referring to in this post are some repetitive and enjoyable behaviors that will become part of your broader training routine.
Achieving results depends much more on consistency than just diet or training style. Consistency is facilitated by the automation of behaviors, which turns into positive routines. These routines consist of rituals.
GIF day in day out
For me, a ritual is preparing meals, traveling to the gym, coffee before training, or even checking my shape in mirrors. All of this makes the training itself more complete and enjoyable, helping me perform better and thus generate better long-term results.
What’s in it for you? A training ritual gives greater meaning to what you do and makes the process more enjoyable.
Create positive associations with the gym
If you want to achieve long-term training results, the gym must be an overly positive concept in your mind. You cannot be afraid of it or associate it with something unpleasant.
Also, the gym is what you make of it.
I know that just starting to train can be a challenge. Many people have to overcome mental barriers – before physical effort, being judged by others, shame, or admitting their own weaknesses. Getting to the point where the gym is a pleasure for you, both physically and mentally, may also require work.
However, this is work you must do if you expect reasonable results.
The gym is a long-term project – you have to persevere in it, and one way to do that is to create positive associations – associations that will make you perceive this place as something good, something you want to have contact with and where you want to come back.
Why is being in the gym cool? What does it give you? What goal does it help you achieve? How does it make you feel during and after? How does it affect your identity? Does it make you a better version of yourself, someone you really want to be?
Answer these questions for yourself and keep grinding for the first results. They will help you associate the gym with something positive, something that creates value in your life and has a deeper meaning for you.
What’s in it for you? Positive association helps you get rid of fears associated with the gym.
Experiment with exercises
This training advice may contradict those that tell you exactly what to do. At the same time, properly applying it may not be easy.
I myself believe in the principle that there is a canon of tried and true exercises that everyone should do or at least try. Especially in the beginning, there’s no point in experimenting. It’s better to focus on establishing a regular training habit than to debate whether standing dumbbell raises, seated machine raises, or cable raises are better, for example.
GIF makes sense
At the same time, we must keep in mind that no two people are built exactly the same, and there are some differences in how we feel individual movements (exercises) – how effective the stimulus they provide is – and thus what effects they will generate.
It’s not like you absolutely have to deadlift or bench press. You should definitely try them, but if for some reason they are problematic, uncomfortable, or risky for you, you can replace them with other movements.
Bottom line is, try different exercises and machines to see what you enjoy the most and where you best engage a given muscle. For example, don’t blindly jump onto one rowing machine and hold onto it tightly without checking out others.
I myself have found that one machine is not equal to another, even one dumbbell is not equal to another, by visiting 20 different gyms:
On the other hand, after a period of experimenting and testing the ground, try to stick with the chosen set and shift the focus to increasing the training volume – weight and number of movements/sets.
To sum up, look for exercises that feel right for your body, stick with them while doing more and more, and from time to time allow yourself to break the routine with a new movement or machine.
What’s in it for you? Customizing your training to you so that you enjoy it and achieve the best possible results.
Grab the weight tight
Your hands are the point of contact between your body and the weight during training of all upper body muscles, but also some lower body muscles (deadlift, Romanian deadlift, dumbbell lunges, optionally even calves).
After reaching a certain weight level, it becomes very important how securely and comfortably you hold the dumbbells, barbell or machine grip.
GIF firm grip
Personally, I have found that in certain exercises, the most important factor is not whether a muscle can work with a given load, but whether the hand can hold it.
The hand in the point of contact should not be loose. When you take the weight, try to almost “embed” your hand in the grip. For me, the place where the fingers connect with the rest of the palm must be the main point of contact regardless of the type of weight I’m working with and what movement I’m performing.
What’s in it for you? A firm grip will allow you to complete every set and perform those final repetitions that matter the most.
Be active between sets
Long-term training goals can vary, but generally when you’re at the gym, you want to:
- Burn calories – use fat and carbohydrates as fuel for work and prevent them from being stored as new fat tissue.
- Build muscles – tear and damage existing fibers through heavy (to your capacity) exercises so they can rebuild bigger later.
Basically, unless you’re a long-distance runner, the likelihood of you burning too many calories on a daily basis is practically zero. Increasing calorie burning is simply recommended for everyone.
During breaks between sets, instead of sitting down and getting distracted by your phone, you can walk around and stretch, thus supporting both of the goals mentioned above.
It’s not that your shape will suffer if you sit between sets instead of walking, but by doing the latter, you’re certainly contributing a small building block to your overall progress, while the former doesn’t give you anything.
What’s in it for you? You burn more calories and support muscle building.
Setting a certain pace for your workout is important. Intensity is a crucial factor if your goal is hypertrophy. Taking uncontrolled breaks between sets and exercises is counterproductive.
At the same time, rushing, trying to finish the workout as quickly as possible, is not something you should aim for either.
GIF don’t rush
This training advice is one of the more difficult ones to verbalize. It’s not a specific action you need to perform, but rather another component of building the fitness mindset that I believe is necessary if you want to see results.
So, when you’re at the gym, take your time and enjoy. Don’t think about rushing through movements and getting to other things as quickly as possible. Use this time to build the best possible relationship with your body.
I understand that not everyone, especially at the beginning, may find pleasure in training and spending time at the gym. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, something you need to learn to like and understand what it gives you, how it makes you feel.
The point of this advice is mainly to find and allocate enough time for a full, conscious workout, rather than rushing through it, as it decreases its effectiveness.
What’s in it for you? You learn to enjoy physical activity and its results.
At first glance, to an inexperienced eye, the training tips contained in this post may seem unremarkable. A beginner may not see the connection between what they do just before training or how they hold the machine handle and their often imprecise goals, such as a flat stomach or big biceps.
Bodybuilding training is peculiar because, on the one hand, it requires adhering to certain proven systems and behaviors, but on the other hand, it forces experimentation with somewhat elusive strategies that may initially seem worthless. Ultimately, however, they improve your results by another 5, 10, or 15%.
In my opinion, saying “do 4 sets of 15 X + 5 sets of 20 Y” is not a sensible training tip. The number of repetitions, sets, and types of exercises is a canon that you should explore yourself because there is no single effective combination.
That is why I decided to focus on things in this post that you may not have heard from anyone before but that, in my experience, are significant. I hope you will decide to try at least some of them.
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