Starting Out At the Gym
This post was made by “opengrip” on the goodlookingloser forums asking how he should approach starting out in the gym:
So I wanna put on some muscle and bulk up a little bit. I'm naturally 5'6 125lbs but fairly athletic already. Problem is I haven't worked out since I was in highschool and most of the time in highschool i worked out at a friends place so I'm not 100% sure how to approach this gym life. I know there is lots of you guys in here that definitely know your way around this and can probably point me in the right direction. First off what kind of attire should i be looking for?
Regarding gym attire, the number one thing you want to make sure is whatever you are wearing is comfortable and allows you to use a full range of motion in all your movements. It should go without saying that you don’t want to be wearing a pair of skinny jeans to go do squats in. Usually, I will wear a tank and shorts or track pants and some comfortable runners.
A few brands that I actually do recommend if you are a serious lifter are GASP clothing, doyoueven clothing, strongliftwear, as well as Nike and Under Armor. They have clothing specifically designed to be flattering on built physiques, as well as EXTREMELY comfortable.
Although not necessary at all, I for one like to see the muscles I’m training when I’m in the gym and wear flattering clothing that shows off my physique and my progress. It actually helps me perform better when I get a confidence boost from wearing something that looks good on me.
Any places you guys recommend shopping and how much am I gonna look at spending on this stuff?
I recommend you check aliexpress.com Aliexpress has a lot of clothing made in China that looks as good as the real brand name stuff, but is sold at less than half the price. I get most of my stuff from there now.
If you don’t have a bunch of disposable income to waste on gym clothes, I suggest you just wear clothes you already have around the house. You can always cut a t-shirt into a muscle shirt or something, you don’t need to be on top of your style game at the gym it’s the last place you should be worrying about how stylish you look.
2nd what sort of exercises should i be doing to achieve a bulkier build… I dont wanna be body builder big but more like super model fit. Nice abs slightly bigger chest and biceps etc. Is there any apps that I should look into for tracking my progress or help with learning the equipment?
It doesn’t matter if you want a bodybuilder body or a super model body, you will need to do the same kind of exercises to build your physique in a proportional way. This means training like a bodybuilder, and eating like a “super model” is what you will want to be doing if you want a super model physique (you won’t grow as big as a bodybuilder, if you don’t eat like a bodybuilder, period).
I suggest you watch YouTube tutorials regarding the exercises you need to be doing so you can learn proper form for each exercise, or go with someone knowledgeable who can help you start out without injuring yourself.
Start extremely light and taper up your weights slowly, as you will likely have muscular imbalances and have problems with your form that need correcting before you can start really focusing on increasing the weights by a lot.
The type of workout split you follow should be determined by you and how much you want to train each body part each week, but I suggest for the body you want to have a day dedicated each day of the week for each body part at least.
This means training 5x per week, with one for chest, one for back, one for shoulders and traps, one for arms, and one for legs, with two rest days. This is a suggestion but in no means does this mean that this split will be optimal for you (although it is an effective one) and you may very well find that a different kind of split (like push day, pull day, legs, rest) might work better for your results.
Regarding the exercises you do in each particular day, those will largely become dictated by how well your body responds to each exercise. I don’t even do flat barbell bench press even though it’s one of the main compound recommended exercises because I get injured easily doing it, and I don’t get very good results from it, so I usually opt for a hammer strength machine or flat dumbbell presses instead which helps my physique develop more.
Although I can’t tell you which exercises will work best for you, I can tell you that you need to mix up the angles. Hitting the muscle from every angle is necessary before you finish your workout if you want to adequately hit the entire muscle. For chest for example, you will want to do incline movements, flat movements, a decline movement, and some fly type movements.
This ensures you hit the muscle group from all possible angles. On shoulder day as another example, you will not only want to hit the front delt, but the side and rear delts as well. Neglecting one area of a specific muscle group will result in an imbalanced physique that not only looks worse, but will increase your likelihood of injury.
As far as rep ranges go, you might as well keep it simple and start out with the classic 4 sets per exercise, with 8-12 reps per exercise. If you can do 12 reps with PERFECT form with the weight with no assistance, then it is too light and you need to increase the weight.
Although overloading the muscle is important, it is just as important to use proper form, and contract the muscle on each rep. If you are just lifting the weight up and down but don't actually feel the muscle being worked that you are trying to train with that particular exercise, you are doing something wrong and should re-evaluate your form or the weights you are using.
In addition to overloading the muscle, you want to GET A PUMP in the gym. Stretching the fascia by engorging the muscle with blood is one of the mechanisms by which hypertrophy occurs, so make sure you are not only going heavy in the gym, but you are getting a good pump in the gym with the exercises you are doing.
You should also download the “myfitnesspal” app on your phone. This app is the ultimate resource for newbies regarding macro counting. If you want to gain weight, you will have to eat in a caloric surplus, see my article “How to Bulk Without Getting Fat” for more info regarding how to approach a bulking up phase. Using myfitnesspal, you can track your calories and macros on a daily basis simply by plugging your meals you’re eating into your phone, and it will take care of the counting for you, and tell you how many more calories (in protein, fats, and carbs) you still need to consume to hit your daily goal.
3rd how much should I worry about what I eat if I am just trying to put on weight? Should I just be trying to eat as much as possible or are certain foods actually counterproductive?
You should worry about what you eat. Clean, whole food sources are best. Avoid refined and processed foods.
This means for carbs you will want things like oats, yams, potatoes, quinoa, rice, for proteins you will want things like extra extra lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, fish, fat free greek yogurt, eggs, egg whites, whey (if you need it), and for fats you will want things like walnuts, peanuts, natural peanut butter, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, etc.
Avoid foods you would normally classify as junk, like pizza, fries, burgers, cookies, cake, etc as well as any food that has a high glycemic index.
Raising your blood sugar will make your body store fat easier, so naturally, we want to avoid this process and get as many of our calories from sources of clean macronutrients with an extremely low glycemic index.
Any good resources on getting a diet set up for someone who is lazy and picky with food like myself?
Yes absolutely! My friend Chris from Goodlookingloser has already compiled an assortment of in depth lists of foods for you to refer to. These should help you pick exactly which brands of each type of food will be optimal to use to build your daily diet. Check out each of the links below for articles he has written on this subject:
Also is there a big difference in sleeping at night compared to day? Due to being in between jobs my sleep schedule is completely backwards! But I do benefits from napping whenever I want!
Sleep whenever is convenient for you. Obviously ideally you would be sleeping 8 hours straight starting at a normal time at night, but if you are cumulatively getting in 8 hours of sleep per day, I highly doubt it will make a difference on your results (if at all).