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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Beginners guide: Tips and tricks to make the most out of your initial gym days

A full body routine provides excellent stimulus for the beginner for about six months of consistent training

brunch Updated: Jun 29, 2019 23:05 IST
Kamal Singh CSCS
Kamal Singh CSCS
Hindustan Times
When you start lifting in a gym, it is imperative that you learn proper exercise form like in these barbell squats
When you start lifting in a gym, it is imperative that you learn proper exercise form like in these barbell squats(Shutterstock)
         

I walked into the gym the other day and saw somebody who was obviously a newcomer, doing cable curls. He was reed thin and must be barely out of teens. I finished my workout – which took about 50 minutes of heavy squats, barbell rows and dumbbell presses – and he was still working his biceps, having moved on to concentration dumbbell curls. I broke my rule of not interfering  in an unknown person’s workout and asked him how long he had been lifting weights and what was he training for? Before I get into what he said about his workout, let me specify that it is rude to offer somebody unsolicited training advice. His answer was that he had started training a month ago and was training one body part per day. Today was his arms training day and he was on third exercise for his biceps! I wished him best of luck with his training and went off to get out of my workout clothes.

The above is the prime example of what plagues gym training for most young men. They adopt a training regimen, which does not suit their novice status. Let me back up little. When you start lifting in a gym, it is imperative that you learn proper exercise form. Also, this is the time to learn to do the big exercises like squats, bench presses, rows, dead lifts etc. These exercises work a large number of muscles/body parts at the same time, creating systemic stress, which would lead to muscle growth and increase in strength. As a beginner, now is not the time to focus on small muscle groups like biceps or forearm muscles. These get overloaded automatically while training the bigger muscles with compound exercises like pull-ups,rows and presses. The Internet and YouTube has added to the confusion as the newbie looks up the programme done by a professional body-builder and tries to copy it. I get questions about training the “inner chest” or how to develop “biceps peak” by rank beginners. They seem to forget that these are concerns of advanced competitive body-builders and not who started lifting weights yesterday.

Big exercises dead lifts  work a large number of muscles/body parts at the same time, creating systemic stress, which would lead to muscle growth and increase in strength
Big exercises dead lifts work a large number of muscles/body parts at the same time, creating systemic stress, which would lead to muscle growth and increase in strength ( Shutterstock )

If you are just starting to lift, then forget about doing body part splits or training one body part a day. This is what you need to do:

•Train the entire body in a session.

•Train on alternate days – for example Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

•Do about three to five big exercises in every session.

Exercises should be squats, push-ups, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, dead lifts, lunges and overhead presses
Exercises should be squats, push-ups, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, dead lifts, lunges and overhead presses ( Shutterstock )

•Exercises should be squats, push-ups, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, dead lifts, lunges and overhead presses.

•For the upper body exercises keep the repetitions between 10 to 12 and for lower body between 12 to 15. Three sets per exercise is more than adequate.

For the upper body exercises like dumbbell press keep the repetitions between 10 to 12
For the upper body exercises like dumbbell press keep the repetitions between 10 to 12 ( Shutterstock )

•Once you can easily hit the upper repetition range, increase the weight and begin again.

A full body routine provides excellent stimulus for the beginner for about six months of consistent training. Please remember this is the golden period of your training life. Gains are easy to come by if you work hard, eat wholesome good food and get adequate rest. It’s not unusual for a natural trainer to easily put on four to five kgs of muscle mass in the first six months of lifting weights.

Intermediate level training programme ideas we will tackle in the next column. Stay tuned and work hard!

Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years

From HT Brunch, June 30, 2019

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First Published: Jun 29, 2019 21:39 IST

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