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7 Things You Need To Know Before You Start Lifting!

By Jamie Lloyd

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London…
Read more.

Great – you’ve made the decision to get yourself in shape.  Buffed up.  Shredded.  So cut The Rock himself would be jealous of your gainz…

Only one problem, you’ve never stepped foot in the weights roomof a gym before in your life and have absolutely no clue where to start.

Of course you have THAT friend who “knows it all” because they’ve been going for all of 6 months and have put on, wait for it, a whole 3lbs of muscle – WOW!

But before you believe THAT friend and take their advice – what? Surely bouncing up and down on the calf raise machine like you’re doing lots of tiny squats, whilst texting, is a perfectly legitimate, muscle building exercise! – How about take a read at what the experts say!

That’s why we enlisted the know how of Award Winning Fit Pro Jamie Lloyd to shed some light on the top 7 things you need to know before you even lay a finger on those dumbbells.

And if you have been lifting for a while, the following top tips are a great refresher…

What You Need To Know Before You Start Lifting

1. KISS - Keep it Simple.

A good resistance training program should be kept simple anddoesn’t need to be complicated. But it should include a few basic rules. So learn to thrive on simplicity and don’t get caught up with the stuff you see on You Tube or the Internet.

I personally find the simplest training programs the most effective.Focus on getting stronger and improving your form with each workout. When you do, everything else will just fall into place.

2. Focus On Movements, Not Muscles

It's common for beginners to focus on getting massive through isolation movements like bicep curls.  Although isolation exercises have their place and are important if you're trying to be a bodybuilder, they're not the most efficient way to burn calories and build strength.

Technically, it's impossible to isolate a single muscle, but isolation movements like biceps curls and leg extensions are single-joint exercises. Compound exercises, like the bench press and squat, are multi-joint movements that recruit larger muscle groups and make you expend more energy.

Compound Movements


When you're choosing or building a program, it's best to focus on compound movements. You'll get more work done in less time.

Try to include push pull, squat, lunge, twist, curl and bend exercises that transfer over into daily life or sporting environments. Keep the rest periods short and think about quality not quantity.

3. Ditch The Mobile Phone!

This is my biggest bugbear when I go training! Right tell me, how on earth can you give 100% of your attention to your workout, if you have your mobile with you??

Look, most people are only in the gym for an hour, so it wont hurt you to do a session without texting and catching up on social media. Even if you plan a shorter session say 45 minutes and do a more intense session, then you will definitely get more out of it and get less distracted.

4. Train at 4-6pm IF You Want To Gain…

Ok so many people think they can train any time of the day to lose weight and gain muscle! Wrong! Hormone levels are also important in determining optimal workout time.

Gym Time

Testosterone is important for muscle growth and strength, in ladies and gents. And the body produces more testosterone during late afternoon resistance trainingthan it does during morning workouts.

Plus, the stress hormone cortisol, which aids in the storage of fat and reduction of muscle tissue, peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day and during exercise.

5. Plan Your Training Sessions

Many beginners believe that the more they exercise, the faster they will reach their goals. Wrong, I'm afraid. Endlessly hammering your muscles will only leave you over-trained and really sore.

When you begin working out, plan to strength train 2-4 times per week for 45-60 minutes. Space your workouts so your muscles are primed and ready to go each time you set foot in the weight room.

Rest and recovery is just as (if not more) important as the exercises you perform.

Exercise efficiently rather than for longer time periods. Compound movements and supersets are a great way to get the most bang for your buck. You'll burn more fat, get stronger, and grow more muscle in less time than you would spending two hours on your biceps and shoulders.

6. Refuel and Re Energise Your Muscles

healthy food choices

Just because you are starting to lift heavy doesn’t mean you can go and eat twice as much. So many people think because they have stepped foot in a gym they can jump on the protein shake wagon!

Don’t get me wrong it’s good to load up on protein if you are training hard at the gym, but most protein shakes are ladened with sugar and all sorts of nasty stuff but if you are starting out you can get good quality protein from your diet.

So why not start off right by getting your lean quality meat from Muscle Food and quit thinking you need to load up on 3-4 protein shakes a day - you won’t look back!

Start thinking smart and eating smart before you lift!

7. Don’t Aim For PBs In Your First Session

When you're new to resistance training, it's difficult to figure out how much weight to lift. As an inexperienced lifter, it would probably be a bad idea to test your one-rep max (1RM).

Instead, find a weight with which you can perform 10 reps. If you can do more than 10, go heavier. If you can't get 10, grab lighter dumbbells. This is your 10-rep max, which is much safer to calculate then your 1RM.

Then, take this information to determine what weight to use for the reps prescribed in your workout. For instance, if you squat 40kg for 10 reps and need to squat 6-8 reps per set, just take 60-80%of your 10-rep weight.

For this example, you would use 25-32kgs for your set. Round down to 30 if necessary.

Or if you aren't sure use a 1-10 scale. So when starting out try to get up to about a 5-6 on the RPE scale the rating of perceived exertion. This is a good way to judge how hard you are going.

If you can't gain, dont train. recover instead

For more experienced lifters, go up to 7-8 out of 10 to determine how heavy the load is. Plus remember to factor inwork, sleep, hydration, stress and whether you have trained the day before... so never go do 2 leg sessions back to back hoping you are going to make some gains.

I say if you cant gain, don't train and take a day off to recover, and you know what you'll bounce back like a gladiator!

Once you determine the right weight to use for each exercise, set a goal to increase this weight as you progress. This is called progressive overload. The idea is to introduce new stimuli each week so your body is forced push beyond what it's adapted to doing.

For example you could change the grip on your pull-ups each week to create a new stimulus or even slow the tempo down without increasing the weight.

You can experiment with rest periods too, but make sure you have good form always and if in doubt go hire a good trainer out - one that knows their stuff and walks the talk.

Been lifting for a while?  What top tips would you give to all those gym newbies out there?  Let us know on Facebook…

Jamie Lloyd

About Jamie

Jamie Lloyd is an award winning Fit Pro, international best-selling author and fitness writer based in SW London.

He can be contacted on contact@jamielloydfitness.com for personal training, group fitness training and nutrition coaching www.jamielloydfitness.com.

Alternatively, you can connect with Jamie via his Social Media Channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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