Nerd Fitness – 3 Lifting Tips for Beginners

Summary :

  1. You are most likely overestimating your daily caloric intake.
  2. Monitoring proper recovery (sleep, food, stress) is more important than worrying about over-training.
  3. Don’t just set one goal, such as losing 20 lbs. Think about being healthy as a journey with goals lined up like dominoes. More forethought ensures the momentum of progress doesn’t halt. Break your training down into simple phases (building muscle, losing fat, getting stronger) to remove monotony and increase efficiency.

1 – Daily Caloric Intake

Do yourself a favor and track your daily calories using an app. I would suggest checking out “Lose It”. They recently launched a new product called “Snap it” which lets you take a picture of your food instead of having to type it in. Although the accuracy isn’t perfect and it takes well over 10 seconds to process a picture, I am sure iterative improvement to the AI algorithm will make it smarter and your tracking a lot easier. Some alternatives to Lose It would be MyPlate or something similar.

2 – Proper Recovery

Going hard in the gym is the easy part. You need to make sure you are getting enough quality sleep at night, eating sufficient calories from healthy food sources, and meditating.

  1. Quality Sleep:
    1. 7 hours minimum
    2. Preferably on your back. If you sleep on your side then use a pillow between your legs. NEVER on your belly (this will mess up your chest/neck/shoulder girdle)
  2. Healthy Food Sources:
    1. Lean Protein: any seafood (tilapia, salmon, shrimp, etc.), chicken breast, turkey breast, ground beef 90% or leaner, lean steak, egg whites or egg substitute
    2. Fat: any nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, any nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
    3. Carbs: Whole grain or Ezekiel bread, white or brown rice, wholewheat or brown rice pasta, oatmeal/steel cut oats, sweet potatoes
  3. Meditating: Spend at least 10 minutes a day without thinking about anything except your own body. Explore different movement patterns on a yoga mat to find stiffness and address it with proper mobility. Use this formula in the YouTube search bar: “Kelly Starrett mobility” + body part” (Kelly is a mobility guru that wrote the amazing book Becoming a Supple Leopard) For example, if you’re in the downward dog pose and find that your ankle/calf region is super tight, type in “Kelly Starrett mobility ankle calf“.

3 – Goals Lined Up Like Dominoes

Whether you’re traversing the journey of fitness on your own or whether a personal trainer is helping you along the road, it is important to understand why you are putting in the Work , and to break the process into manageable chunks. The typical journey of a newcomer will consist of three main phases of training with a fourth one inserted as necessary. Working on form and gaining a base level of strength, pushing strength, and continually improving conditioning over time (i.e. dropping body fat) will be the main three, while hypertrophy (i.e. gaining muscle) will be the one we sprinkle in.

Phase Length (weeks) Description
Form 3-4 5 sets x 5 reps. Work on proper form by taking 3 seconds to go down and one second to explosively come up (on all lifts). Slowly increase weight each week (5-15 lbs) as long as your form holds
Strength 4-5 3 sets x 5 reps. Keep the 3 second down one second up tempo and increase weight consistently each week by 5-10 lbs on all lifts. Every 4-5th week you’ll want to deload to let your body recover
Deload 1 Same sets and reps as the preceding phase. Decrease weight on every exercise to 70% of the weight last used (ex: 100 lb bench for 3×5 becomes 100*0.7=70 lb bench 3×5)
Hypertrophy 4-5 4 sets x 8-12 reps.Focus more on the mind-muscle connection and increase weight consistently each week by 5-10 lbs on all lifts. Every 4-5th week you’ll want to deload to let your body recover
Conditioning Continuous Play around with Strongman Conditioning. Start with 3-4 sets of either farmers walks or sled drags for 40+ yards. Add 1-2 sets every week. When you can do 10 sets then you can start increasing weight.

You can construct your program using these building blocks like lego pieces. Join multiple phases of either strength or hypertrophy, depending on your goal, together with deload weeks.

Visualize yourself as a sculptor and fall in love with the process of constant improvement. The process of breaking down muscle and recovering just enough to break it down again takes discipline and mental fortitude; learn to become uncomfortable.

Send us an email if you could use help with structuring your training: You will be strong!

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