Are you a beginner? I bet you don’t think you are but you are. See, being a beginner has nothing to do with how long you’ve been training and I’d even argue that it doesn’t have as much to do with your abilities and performance either. Instead I believe it has everything to do with your approach to training. If you’re making these three beginner mistakes, STOP!
1. Stop talking about your pre workout and start focusing on your nutrition
Newbies in the gym and pre workouts go together like powerlifting and singlet moose knuckles. “How many scoops did you take bro?” Here’s the thing with pre workouts: First, they mess with your perceived exertion by stimulating your sympathetic nervous system and elevating your heart rate, there by giving you the misperception that you’re actually working out really hard. Second, there is a tolerance that is built up over time to the stimulants which means you need more and more to get the same effect. The real question is why do you need the stimulants in the first place? Well, if I had to throw out a guess I’d say it’s because you eat poorly and fail to provide your body with the correct nutrients and fuel that it needs and/or you don’t get adequate rest and recovery, primarily sleep. Unfortunately, no matter how many supplements you take you will never bridge the gap between poor nutrition and sleep and the results you would get if you actually focused on them. A direct quote from a client after one week on a nutrition program: “My energy level during training has greatly improved and I just feel stronger over all.” Quality nutrition will give you all the energy you need to go through a leg day you can actually be proud of, not your 2 scoops fueled half squat and leg extension mockery of a workout.
2. Stop making up your own workouts and follow a program written by a smart person
When I was in high school, I would read flex magazine then go to the gym and train using all the exercises I saw in the magazine. Did I work hard? Without a doubt. Was I an idiot? Absolutely. I had zero education and barely any experience. Even worse I wouldn’t even write anything down, I would just go into the gym and do whatever I felt like doing without recording any of it. Now, I did make progress but I could have made even better progress following an intelligent program written by someone who had all the education and experience I was lacking. I can’t help but imagine if I had followed Starting Strength in high school and then 5/3/1 in college where I would be now. What if in high school I had actually gotten quality coaching on how to properly squat, bench, and deadlift? My excuse is that Starting Strength and 5/3/1 weren’t published till I was already out of high school and college and well, I was coached on how to lift by my football coaches so I was kinda just stuck with that. But you! You have all these resources at your fingertips so why aren’t you using them? Pro athletes, olympians, and even the best in powerlifting and bodybuilding use coaches or at least someone to help them with programming to achieve the best results possible so why aren’t you?
3. Stop hanging around other beginners and start training with more advanced lifters
Being a big fish in a little pond is fine if you’re okay with lying to yourself about being a “big fish” but if you’d like to really see what you’re made out of you gotta get around some folks who are better than you. If you want to be a professional baseball player you’ll have to work your way up through the high school, college, and minor league ranks and likewise if you want to eventually be something more than a beginner you’ll have to get away from the elementary school kickball team you call a gym and workout partners. This usually means training with people older and more experienced than you. It can be a little frightening to get out of the comfort zone of your peers, especially if you’re the alpha of the group, but if you want to continue to make progress you’ll need to make it happen one way or another.
There is nothing wrong with being a beginner but at some point you need to earn your diploma and graduate. Stop making these beginner mistakes and become more advanced as a lifter.