Here are 10 lessons I've learned (thus far) on my fitness journey. They are things I wish I had known about sooner! Hope you can take away some valuable insights!
(1) Don't stick to one trainer's program religiously
You'll tire out the muscles and the central nervous system (CNS). Doing one trainer’s program followed by another and alternating between various programs and types of training will be better for you. You’ll not get bored, you’ll be less likely to overload and over train, and your CNS will recover more easily. So that would be a more well rounded and sound approach, ultimately promoting lifelong sustainable fitness.
(2) Don't obsess over a specific area / part of your body
There’s no such thing as spot reduction in sports science. Biomechanics doesn’t work that way. When you lose fat from being in a deficit (taking in fewer calories than you burn) you’ll lose fat from all parts of your body - visceral and subcutaneous fat. While everyone stores most of their fat in different places, your fat will not just be burned in the place you predominantly store fat. So obsessing over a specific part of your body you’d like to change, or “target” is counterproductive and damaging. It will affect your self-esteem and your self-worth, and in extreme cases might lean to body dysmorphic thoughts. Moreover, obsessing over certain areas of your body causes you not to see your progress in other places. You might be obsessing over one party that you don't realize how far you've come in another part. Whilst trying to trim your thighs, you might not see all the strength gains you’ve made in your back. So be careful because body obsession might begin to create an unhealthy relationship to your body. So just keep your head up, keep trucking, and remember that progress isn't linear.
(3) Don't overload the muscles
Meaning don't do more than you need because you're not being patient
Doing more.is not going to get you there faster, it takes time : hours upon hours a week.
(4) Don't compare
Everyone’s different, you don't see the full picture, you don’t know they’re current fitness level or where they are in their journey, you don't know their genetics, you don't know their nutrition profile, eating patterns, or the sleep hygiene, you also don’t know what’s going on in the inside: they might look fit, but are they really fit ? Are they metabolically fit or insulin resistant? Are their hormones balanced? Are they suffering from anything? You just don't know.
(5) Do it for more than aesthetics, (your why)
Aesthetics starting out can be motivating because you’ll notice a big change if you just start strength training (newbie gains) but after that change is almost imperceptible and happens very very slowly. So after you’ve reached a place where you’re fit and healthy (you’re at a healthy weight that’s right for you and your body type, you have balanced hormones, etc.) then you might not see what other progress is taking place, albeit slowly. If you make it only about the aesthetics you might get discouraged. If you do it for the feeling, the energy levels, and the things that you cannot necessarily see then you’ll be in a better position to keep doing what you’re doing because it’s about enjoying the journey. What you might not see is your metabolic health, your sleep, your HRV, your heart rate...all of these are indicators of good health that might not translate into your idea aesthetically what looks healthy. Of course, for the optimizers out there to get a better sense of what’s going on inside your body you can track sleep, HR, HRV, and check your blood sugar with a cgm continuous glucose monitor, but again, to most that is imperceptible. Someone looking at you won't see your Heart Rate or your HRV or those other hidden metrics. So make it more than just the aesthetics because if you’ve plateaued or if your body is at a healthy weight and body fat percentage, then you might not see that many drastic changes anymore. But those changes are still happening provided that you keep it consistent. You might not see it on a daily basis but they’re happening.
*Functionality and strength and aesthetics are the by product
(6) Do take rest days
Your body and mind needs it. When you’re just starting out you might feel like you didn’t do enough but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take those rest days because you do. If you haven’t just started out then you might tell yourself to power through, however this can be counter productive to your goals. Over time you will do damage if you don’t take your rest days. Most weeks I’ll do 5 or 6 days of training with 2 rest days or 1 rest day depending on how I feel.
(7) Don't just do cardio (do strength)
Building strength is so important and I really wish I had started strength training sooner. When you build lean muscle mass you’ll burn more energy throughout the day, even when not working out. Cardio is good, but you don’t have to go crazy with it and you by no means should just be doing that. If you had to choose between cardio and strength training, choose strength training and you’ll get cardio from your strength training and whatever walking you do (LISS) anyway.
(8) Be flexible not rigid (can still be consistent this way):
Be consistent but don't over train, do it often without doing it to the point where your muscles are strained and tendons and joints are hurting and you're still powering through. Can result in permanent injury or chronic pain if overlooked and not taken seriously, overtraining with a type of exercise or part of the body , if you need to take an extra rest day or swap for something more appropriate that day given the state you might be in physically like where your recovery is at). When I first started my fitness journey, I made the mistake of not taking into consideration consistency over intensity. For example, I’d go to the gym, tired myself out completely and then be so tired stiff and sore that the next day I wouldn’t want to do it again. I went through this cycle a few times before I realized that I need to ease into it, develop a habit of exercising deliberately and mindfully so that it becomes part of my lifestyle. That’s how you can be consistent.
(9) Do take in the bigger picture
Sleep, nutrition, hydration, stress levels. It’s not just about the exercise. There’s so much more involved. And I would add time-restricted feeding to that too so you can take care of your metabolic fitness as well, which will positively impact your overall health.
(10) You’re going to look like you, not like someone else
Body type! Strength training will give you shape and change your muscles but it won’t necessarily transform your body in an unrecognizable way unless you’re on a major weight loss journey; for most people who are seeking to get stronger and get fitter, they’ll look like a fitter healthier stronger version of themselves, but genetics still apply meaning if you have a lean midsection you’ll have an even leaner midsection or if you have a full upper body you’ll have a leaner stronger upper body so your body type will still be there.
So those are the 10 lessons I learned! Hope you enjoyed this video and blog post! See you in the next IgnyteFit.