Updated: May 15
With the amount of information out on the internet, it’s overwhelming to understand what’s best for you and your body. Whether you’re getting into strength training, stepping out into a new form of movement, or trying a new workout class, you might have certain beliefs of what that should look like. Over the 6+ years of me being a personal trainer and 10+ years of strength training under my belt, I have learned that many of my original beliefs around working out were and are untrue.
Here are 10 things I wish I had known when I first started working out:
1.Spending more time in the gym doesn’t mean it’s a better workout.
A person who lifts for 90+ minutes doesn’t necessarily mean they are achieving more results than someone who lifts for 30-45 minutes. More time doesn’t always equate to being more effective. An effective workout is one that you can consistently schedule and complete with progressive overload.
2. The amount of soreness and sweat produced does not mean it was a good workout.
A little soreness here and there is okay, especially when it’s coming from completing new exercises or increasing load or volume. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) should last at most two days. Extreme soreness or soreness lasting beyond three days may mean you are not recovering properly. This could be due to pushing too hard, not getting enough sleep, not fueling properly, not hydrating enough, or other underlying issues.
The amount of sweat produced has less to do with the workout itself and more to do with your personal sweat production. Two people could do the exact same workout with the same effort and intensity and have completely different sweat rates.
3. Optimal training frequency and duration will look different for everyone.
Training availability is determined by the non-negotiables in your weekly schedule such as family, work, social life, etc. These non-negotiables will determine your frequency and duration of workouts, which means you likely won’t have the same schedule as your BFF, your co-worker, or some rando fitspo on the internet.
4. Social media provides ideas, not a customized program specific to you.
Social media is a great tool for learning how to complete a specific exercise or discovering variations of an exercise you’re already doing. Remember, progressive overload is what drives progress, so take the fitspo workouts with a grain of salt. For customized personal training, we recommend coming into Garage 1880 located in LoHi to work with one of our expert personal trainers.
5. Motivation is temporary.
When motivation comes around, take advantage of it. Recognize that it doesn’t last forever, which is why it’s necessary to develop sustainable habits to rely on even when motivation isn’t there.
6. “Fit” doesn’t have a look. A person can be “fit” at any size.
Contrary to what you often see on social media, a person can be “fit” at any size. A person doesn’t have to fit a specific mold, be able to lift xyz weight, or do a certain exercise to be considered fit.
7. Progress has ups and downs; it’s not linear. It takes months and years to improve.
Fitness is not your whole life; it is a small part of your life that adds value. In addition to fitness, you have work, a family, social life, and other responsibilities that impact how frequently you can train, which will affect progress. Sleep, stress, hormones, and nutrition also impact progress. Maybe it was a tough week at work so you didn’t move your body as much or went out to eat more often than usual. Sometimes it takes taking a step back to take two steps forward.
8. Rest periods during the workout and rest days are both essential to your progress.
Rest periods during the training session allow your muscles to recover briefly before adding load. Depending on the goal of the training, resting between sets could determine the outcome of the next set. Will it elicit strength? Will it encourage hypertrophy? Will it prepare you for endurance events?
Rest days are essential for muscle repair. Without muscles repairing their tears, you wouldn’t see those strength and hypertrophy gains as clearly.
9. Slow and controlled movements beat out fast and uncontrolled every time.
Exercise tempo adjust based on training phase and specificity, but your form and muscular development will benefit more from controlled movements vs uncontrolled movements.
10. Fitness is for life. Not 12 weeks. Not 6 months. For life.
Yes, there may be events that you’re preparing for such as a 10K run, a wedding, or preparation for pregnancy, but fitness goes beyond those timelines. The skills you develop for a running race are important for you in every decade of your life. The muscle you gain for your wedding will take you much further than feeling good in your skin on your wedding day. The endurance and core strength you build for a healthy pregnancy will enhance your recovery postpartum and beyond.
These are just a few examples of what I wish I would have known back in the day. I hope you can learn from my trials and errors to start ahead of the curve.