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5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Training: Advice from a Pro

June 2, 2023

If I could go back in time, there would be so many things I would tell my younger self: “you can wear that dress more than once because no one f*cking cares” or “keep those flares because they will make a comeback”. I’m starting to sound a bit old now, aren’t I? Luckily I’ve got good Asian genes.

There’s a ton of misinformation available online about how you should train, what you should do, how many sets and reps to do, what exercises are ‘optimal’ for you, what you should eat, when you should eat, what supplements you should take, blah blah. Social media has made SO MUCH information available, that it’s death by information overload so it’s hard to figure out what’s actually true and what’s a myth that fitfluencers made up to scare you into training with them.

If I could cut through the BS and what I know now, here’s the advice I would give my younger self (and you).

1. Skipping a workout or two is not the end of the world.

It’s important to listen to your body – if you’re feeling tired and a little run down then your body needs to rest and recover. What’s the other option? You turn up to the gym and do a sub-par workout that makes you feel even worse. No thanks.

Like I always say, the magic happens in recovery. It’s where your muscles get time to repair and adapt to the training, basically where gains are made – not in the gym.

2. Swapping training days or times around to work with your schedule is okay.

Life doesn’t always go to plan: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If your schedule is hectic, it’s okay to switch training days around to fit into your life. It’s your life and you’re in control: the important thing is that you get it done. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the morning or the afternoon, or a Tuesday or a Wednesday – make it work for you.

By accepting that it’s okay to change up your schedule, it’ll take a load off and you’ll feel less guilty about “missing” a workout.

3. Weights won’t make you bulky.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said “weights will make women bulky”, I’d be a millionaire living on the Coast of Italy, sipping limoncellos, eating pasta, pizza and gelato every day, and sailing on my yacht every weekend.

Women find it harder to build muscles than men because we’re usually smaller and our hormones are different. I think it’s a little unfair if you ask me, but building and maintaining a great physique takes years of training and dedication.

If you want to “tone up”, you need to start lifting weights to build muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn. Increasing the ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat will help you look more toned. 

4. Less is more

Quality is more important than quantity – training 6-7 days a week without a break won’t help anyone. You’re going to be tired, moody, and burned out, you’ll probably end up hating your training and stop going altogether.

You can get the same results (or even better results) from training 3-4 days a week. It’s about getting the total weekly training volume in by training each muscle group at least 2-3 times a week, rather than a set amount of days. It’s also a lot more sustainable because life will give you lemons.

5. Train movements, not muscle groups.

I spent a lot of time doing a leg day, back day, arm day, core day – basically every [insert muscle group] day and a lot of time on the cardio machines too. All those hours and days I’ll never get back…

It’s about training smarter, not harder. And if you want to be smarter, train all movements to train all muscle groups. Movements can target multiple muscle groups using just one exercise rather than isolating a muscle group. 

Ok there it is, my 5 tidbits of wisdom. What would you tell your younger self if you could go back in time and teach them a lesson?

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