Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Or a nutrition major. Or an expert in physical activity. I’m an English major with a blog, who enjoys exercising. Please exercise or nutrition-ize(?) at your own discretion. The most important thing to understand is the limitations of your own body. If you’re unsure how to begin, I’m only imparting some basic exercise science that I wish I understood at the beginning of my own fitness journey.
I’ll try to simplify biology and nutrition as much as possible. This post is for the absolute newbie who’s wondering how to exercise and, hopefully, it’ll be the preliminary start to a couple blog posts.
To preface, you may have the desire to achieve Chris Hemsworth’s physique. If you’re a girl, maybe you want J. Lo’s body? Celebrity bodies and the physiques of bodybuilders on Instagram are incredibly difficult to achieve. You have to realize that their lives revolve around strict regimented diets, as well as years of training. Some even use performance enhancing substances. You likely don’t have the similar lifestyle that these individuals tend to have, and that’s perfectly fine!
Most likely, if you’re a newcomer, you enter a gym and you’re confused about how to start. You may have seen some workouts on Bodybuilding.com. (I’m personally a huge fan of Bodybuilding.com since they use peer-reviewed data and give a clear analysis on exercise routines.) Confusion is easy, if you’re not sure about your specific goal and the best pathway. Some opt for a push/pull/legs method. Others opt for splitting muscle groups. I personally cling to upper/abs and back/lower while throwing in some light cardio.
Utilize compound lifts! The Big Three: bench press, deadlifts, and squats. If you cannot focus on any other exercise, focus on these three. Some despise them and state issues with each, however these exercises work numerous muscle groups at a given point.
Push/pull/legs method refers to the muscular contractions. So think in basic terms: if you’re pushing a weight away from you, then you’re utilizing a ‘push’ muscle. Same premise goes for if you’re using a ‘pull’ muscle to bring something towards you. And for legs, you simply just exercise legs.
My preferred method is upper/middle/lower. So on ‘upper’ days, I exercise my chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms (in that specific order). On ‘middle’ days, I stress back and abs. And finally, on ‘lower’ days it’s legs. I make sure to incorporate the Big Three. A set refers to a given number of repetitions. So for me, doing 7 repetitions constitutes as 1 set. In order to effectively stress a particular muscle group, I focus on doing at least 3 sets. And between sets, I drink water and allow myself to rest for roughly a minute.
Below are some exercises I strongly recommend. A quick google search will allow you to better understand how to do each exercise with proper form.
- Chest– Benchpress, Dumbbell presses, pushups. I like dumbbell presses because they incorporate a wider range of the pectoral muscles, which I’ve been taught leads to a more ‘developed’ chest.
- Shoulders– Shrugs, shoulder presses
- Biceps– Chin-ups (with weights if you can easily reach 10 repetitions per set), dumbbell curls, EZ bar curl
- Triceps– Dips (with weights if you can easily reach 10 repetitions per set), tricep pulldowns, close hand pushups
- Forearms– wrist curls (with variations)
- Back– Deadlifts, T-bar row, pull ups (with weights if you can easily reach 10 repetitions per set)
- Abs– a variety of exercises. I usually keep my ab workout under 7 minutes. Try to incorporate weighted exercises for abs.
- Quads– Squats, leg extensions
- Hamstrings– Romanian deadlifts (RDLs). Hamstrings are a crucial part of leg strength. In females, they reduce visibility of cellulite. They generate an immense amount of power and aid in sprinting/running.
- Calves– Calf raises (a variety of them)
Before embarking on a fitness journey, I suggest setting some reasonable goals to achieve. My favorite is strengthlevel.com. I use the ‘Standards’ section to see what my one-repetition maximum should be for a specific compound exercise, in regards to my specific weight.
If I’ve incorrectly stated any information, or if you’d like me to simplify any other fitness terms, leave a comment.