Patience is something almost every beginner lacks, but is also a vital key to success. When first stepping in the gym, progress may come rather quickly, whether it is in the form of size or strength gains. Depending on your body, your progress will begin to decrease after a period of time and adding weight to the bar will become progressively difficult.
You may recruit more muscles than just the group you're focused on. Getting back to dumbbell presses, you not only use the pectorals, anterior deltoid (front of the shoulder) and triceps, but you may need other shoulder and back muscles to coordinate and hold your body steady during the exercises. Likewise, if you're doing standing front raises, you will naturally recruit muscles in your abdomen and back to steady your body.
One of the most persistent questions floating around the minds of many aspiring bodybuilders is “What is the best way to train to build muscle?”. The answers are as varied as the numerous pieces of gym equipment that occupy any fitness establishment. There are many choices as to the best exercises to use, how many sets and reps, how many days per week to train and what type of program to follow.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing around you – this isn’t a fashion show. For shoes, look for a minimalist shoe with a hard, non-compressible sole. Chuck Taylors are my personal favorite, but Steve wears Vibrams or Merrills. While there are some great shoe options specifically for weight lifting, as a beginner, the above multipurpose shoe will serve you just fine!
You will start with 1 set of 12 repetitions for each of 9 exercises for the first week. At workout session 8, you should have progressed to 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise. The weight you choose to start with will be sufficient to perform a set of 12 repetitions to failure with good form, which means that the twelfth repetition is pretty much the most you can do without resting. This is called 12RM (repetition maximum).
When you start resistance training, most of your initial increase in strength is due to a phenomenon called neural adaptation. This means that the nerves servicing the muscles change their behaviour. The nerves are thought to fire more frequently (prompting increased muscle contraction) and more motor units are recruited to perform the contraction (a motor unit is the nerve cell and its associated muscle fibres). This means you become stronger, but the muscles remain the same size – you’ve hit the plateau.
Perform three weight-training sessions per week, hitting your whole body each time. Base your routine on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These burn the most calories, hit more muscles and give the best bang for your buck, claims Rachel Cosgrove, strength coach and co-founder of Results Fitness in California. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for assistance.