It seems only befitting that the week I decide to discuss how to get going with weight training, I have really bad DOMS in my upper back and shoulders, some weird bruise and an unrelenting desire to eat. Yes, welcome. Welcome to the way not to introduce people to a challenging task… with all the potential side effects!
But hey, I am not going to sugar coat things. As you’ll read in points nine, ten and sixteen of my former post ‘20 things you didn’t know about me’, getting that sweet reward at the end, will result in some minor fractions along the way.
You may still be wondering what the hell DOMs is. It’s ‘Delayed onset muscle soreness’ and typically likes to linger 24 – 72 hours post exercise. For me the apex is normally 48 hours after. After a weight training session or even resistance training you can cause what is known as ‘microtraumas’ to your muscles. This damage results in soreness to the areas you exercise, but it does go away.
Sports Medicine has a good little article for those who’d like a more in-depth overview. For me, I always think of it in this equation:
Lift Heavy x New or Different (intensity\duration) = Sore tomorrow (and maybe more)
Sore tomorrow + Rest Days + Good treatment = Feel better
Sore tomorrow\Feel better = New, fit body!
I seriously just made that up then. Please do not quote me on it or take it as medical advice. But you get my drift right? I could throw in all those ra-ra sayings like:
“Short-term pain = long term gain” or “Go hard or go home”…
But I won’t. I mean I already did, but I think it’s about breaking it down and really thinking about what it is you desire\want\need from your training. That in turn, will motivate you to do the required movements to get to your personal goal. For me it’s really one word. STRONG. That is how I want to feel. Not only in my body, but in my mind and emotionally as well.
As a freelance writer, I am eternally interested in human behaviour and how we approach, communicate and motivate ourselves to do things. With the Sixteen Weeks ‘til Sexiness program I am in (through Roman Fitness Systems), my online coaching group consists of 70 members. We comprise all different walks of life, ages, occupations and even countries. Most are in the USA because it originated in NY, but there’s a fair few Aussies (yay) some hilarious UK folk and a smattering of residents from EU.
We all do have one thing in common though. A burning desire to hit our own personal outcome (we are on a mix of three different programs: fat loss, muscle gain and recomp – for those are super duper into building muscle). I’m on the muscle gain. But we also share one other trait: we are fallible. Having 70 people to chat to about everything about is really fun. Things like:
I think I am going to slip up and eat something bad – help!
All these New year’s resolution people are taking up all the equipment at the gym – what alternative exercises can I do?
Macronutrients? How the hell do I count those?(more on that in my next post)
I really want a drink! (alcohol)
How do I get rid of DOMs? I am so sore, yeouch!
And my personal favourite:
all the recipes, I mean of course all the positive encouragement when you do a great gym session, hit your targets or just need a friendly ‘good on you!’
My first week, I had a series of false starts. The program was due to start on Monday 6 Jan, and I got it Tuesday 7 Jan (care of the time difference). My inherent desire to only read the good bits, somehow resulted in me mis-reading the initial emails and thinking it started on Thursday 9 Jan. Good one me.
Of course I had ceremoniously gone out to dinner at Il Bacaro Cucina e Bar on Monday night and outdone myself on prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella and figs, spaghettini with Moreton bay bugs and goats curd panna cotta with glazed strawberries and all the trimmings. Plus I washed this down with a very good hit of red wine. Anyone else done this? I can see most of you nodding your head, or waving a chicken drumstick around medieval king style.
The next couple of days I was still feeling worse for wear. My workout days were scheduled as Mon, Wed and Fri. I decided to not beat myself up (even though I desperately wanted to, why??) and just do the first one on Friday. Instead, I read all the comments in the group, read through the program (very comprehensive), read the nutrition guide I was sent and the amount of calories to consume, read all about John Romaniello and all about Mike Vacanti – our incredibly knowledgeable and motivating moderator of the group. You got it in one – I read, read, read.
As a sidenote – I have to say at this point: Are all guys from NY good looking? There must be something in the protein powder there.
I fluxed between wanting to go to the gym and wanting to postpone it till the following week. I ended up going on Friday afternoon and then doing a little swim in the bay after, which was a great way to end the week and the session (muscles like cool water). I reflected on the week that was in the cool depths of Elwood beach.
One stand out comment came from a guy in the group, after another member (there were a few of us) lamented about missing the first week. He said something along the lines of “You haven’t missed the first week, you’ve gained. You’ve gained more than any of us. You now know what to do and what not to do, so you can just start. That is a great position to be in.”
I really loved that. It helped shift my thinking and I admire when people can present situations back in an optimistic way. Total kudos to that guy.
From what I observed of the others in my group and what I personally experienced as well here are my Top Five tips on getting started:
Understand your why: It’s incredibly critical you know your intent for strength training. Even if it as simple as you want to fit those jeans you bought a year ago or you need to shed some body fat and build muscle tone – great! I say this, because your why is the elixir that will get you to the gym after a hard day at work, drive you out of bed at 6am if you train early, head off on your lunch break instead of eating at your desk and most importantly get you to your end goal. My why is STRONG. I’ve sustained a chronic shoulder injury, torn hamstring and long periods of sitting (ah, the by-product of writing) – so STRONG is a word I use to remind me why I doing this. I am determined to build a functionally fit body, strengthen my discipline and walk around in a crop top (just kidding, scrap that last bit).
Get accountable: Whether you join an online group, form a pact with friends, engage your partner or kids – tell someone about your plan and get them involved. People that care about you will care about your health and dreams. Let them be part of your journey or better yet, maybe a buddy to train with. The only reason I was getting myself to the gym to start off with, was because I was accountable to so many people and I do not like letting people down. I’m a part of a team. Now in the third week, I’m actually excited about going to fling iron around. Well – not quite at that stage yet.
Plan and schedule your time: It doesn’t have to be fancy or detailed or rigid. I make recurring appointments in Google Calendar (I use all the Google products) complete with a breakdown of the exercises I need to do. I do this because on that first day, I put what I thought was my program in my bag, turns out it was a blank piece of paper. I couldn’t get into Dropbox through my phone as the internet was down and I was finally able to retrieve my program through my email! I learnt a grave lesson – be prepared and have back ups. We typically always have our phone on us (I use it to listen to music at the gym), so products that sync with your phone are great. That way – you’ll be ready to train always.
Wear your gym clothes: I know this sounds crazy, but some days if I plan to go at lunch, I will wear my gym clothes to work. Some of you may not be able to do this, but if you can, it is a great way to just go. It really frames your mindset and starts forming a positive habit of going. If I come home still in my gear and didn’t go, I get a bit disappointed in myself. Trust me, there are plenty of times I think “oh, I have to do all this STUFF!” But it is at that moment I just get up and go. You will be far better for it. I also take a spare change of clothes, in case I get over hanging out in tights and a singlet in the afternoon.
Remember you are you: Where you are at is where you are meant to be and that is great. Too often we get caught up in “oh, she is skinnier than me” “he’s got a better physique” “I can only lift 5kgs” STOP! Starting points are different for everyone and the sole fact you are standing in a gym, training at home, in a park or anywhere really is testament to the fact you are making positive change. I was told years ago by a naturopath to “be kind to yourself “ and to this day it is the best advice I’ve had. Sheesh, the amount of times I berated myself for not doing things, or not being good enough or not being at a point someone else is at is huge. Competitiveness is good, seeing others as competition is not. This is your journey and being present in each training moment is the best way to be. Resistance training and results comes over a period of time, so just chip away.
This was a long one… phew! But training is all mental (well, yeh it does make us go a bit mental at times too..) Next week will be a quick and easy one – love that. The Top five benefits of programs like these and the top five downsides…. or should that be Bottom five? Ah, someone can fill me in between now and next week. Till then, I’m here to chat if you wanna say hi about your training journey.