One of the most important tips I learned on my journey is the significance of form and strategies. Injury is not only common with the lack of stretching but also with how you perform the exercises. My shoulder pain was not only due to a lack of stretching but also because I was performing certain exercises incorrectly. I watched a lot of YouTube videos on exercises, but I went with how I felt while performing them instead of paying close attention to the position of my body. A slight bend in the knees, at the elbows, etc. makes such a big difference but I was not aware of that earlier. I would wonder why certain exercises hurt in spots that they were not even meant to target and it was because the other parts were compensating for my bad form.
My fitness journey is largely influenced by the help of other people such as friends and coaches. They helped me see the difference that form made and assisted me in improving it. This made a huge difference in my ability to perform in terms of endurance and strength. I felt more confident and more inclined to want to go to the gym. I was building muscle properly in the places that I was trying to target. However, since I started with bad form, my shoulder is still affected to this day. It is still a bit uncomfortable when I perform certain exercises because it never completely healed from my improper form but definitely not to the extent it was at earlier.
Once you perfect form, strategies are a great way to improve your abilities. Instead of performing just one exercise at a time regularly, there are different ways to approach them or put different exercises together. For example, one of my favorite things to incorporate into my workouts is a superset. A superset is a combination of exercises performed back to back and then followed by a rest period instead of doing them one after another with rest between each. This helped me build endurance since I was pushing my body past its limits. I would already be tired from one exercise but the next one or few would really have me going at maximum.
Another strategy I really like working with is negative reps as it incorporates a different level of intensity. Negative reps are basically a different way to perform an exercise in terms of speed and time. For example, on a bench press, you bring the bar down much slower than usual and hold it at the closest point to your chest and then bring it up at a normal pace. It helps build volume overall as it breaks the muscle down differently and repairs even better. Negative reps were a huge bridge for me in adjusting my form because it made me focus more on my movement. Everything connects in fitness and form and strategies especially are very important to pair together when trying increase my performance.
Fitness does not only include the physical part of working out but also recovery. Progress cannot come from constantly working out your muscles. They only grow when you rest and let them rebuild. The process is personal though because how my muscles recover is not the same as how someone else’s would. It also depends greatly on the amount of sleep you get since your muscles can do the most work then. Within the first few weeks that I began working out with weights, I was excited to get stronger and was working out every day despite the fact that I was sore. Instead of taking rest days, I was pushing myself harder and ignoring the pain. I was noticing minimal changes in my ability to lift heavier though. I also was feeling more tired and the pain from the soreness never went away. Due to my consistency with this, I ended up injuring my shoulder. I soon learned from research and my basketball coach that my issue was that I was not taking any rest days.
I then began to incorporate rest days into my routine and working out became a little bit easier and less of a pain. I was still sore but I was not straining myself as much. Stretching became a bigger part of my routine as well. Initially, I was ignoring the importance of stretching and would only spend about a minute doing so. After talking to my coach, I was stretching for a minimum of three minutes before and after every workout. I did not understand the benefits until I applied it. Soon after this, maybe within weeks, I was seeing some muscle gains and slightly better cuts. I also physically felt stronger and was able to lift much more but I was not going to the gym more than three times a week because I would get sore too quickly. I wanted to go more often though and still improve more.
What I believe helped me the most was BCAA’s, or branch chain amino acids. These are components in protein that are crucial for muscle repair and recovery. While I was getting these amino acids from my regular protein intake, my body could use more. I then came across the supplement that many people around me were using. I was skeptical about using supplements at first but I decided to give it a chance. I bought the BPI Sports BCAA powder and would take it with water with me to the gym every time I went. I noticed a significant decrease in soreness. I was able to hit the gym more often and push my limits more. The BCAAs were of a great help when I did not get enough sleep too because it assisted my muscles to recover throughout the day instead of just at night. It quickly became something I was just going to try for a week to something that is a part of my weekly routine. My journey of recovery from soreness due to my learning experience only got better.
Everyone that goes to the gym has a first time gym experience that is a story to tell, usually to laugh at. It is really unlikely for someone to walk in to the gym their first time, knowing exactly what to do. When I first started going to the gym, I joined LA Fitness. I knew that I wanted to make a change in my body but I was not exactly sure how to do it. I watched plenty of videos prior to going in but seeing someone else perform the exercises is not the same as performing them yourself. My first day walking into the gym, I had to spend a decent amount of time just familiarizing myself with where all the equipment was. There were even some equipment that I thought I could use for a specific exercise but it was meant for something completely different. I sat at each machine I went to spending a decent amount of time on just looking at the pictures and reading the instructions which helped slightly. However, my form was still in question because the instructions can only help so much. Also, there were not mirrors everywhere for me to be able to see just how I was performing the exercises. I was quite self-conscious seeing other people that were already doing so well in the gym. I felt that people were probably judging my form and commenting on how light I was lifting. I did not give up though, I kept watching videos and returning to the gym, working out however I felt was right.
Luckily, I met some well experienced body builders that were in the gym every day while I was playing basketball one day. They offered to help me learn how to lift better but I was not trying to join them since I was nowhere near their level. They said specifically to me to “stop being soft” and just join them, making me laugh. I decided to go in with them and I was so glad that I did. They pushed me past my limits and improved my form tremendously. I became much more comfortable with being in the gym and lifting on my own, even when they were not around. I was no longer worried about anyone around me because they helped me gain confidence in myself and ensured that I was performing the exercises properly. They even helped me outside of lifting in terms of what nutrition products to buy as a beginner. Those products helped me recover much faster and keep up with the gym properly. I am sure that even without those guys, I would still have improved in the gym, maybe through some friends or my basketball coach but they definitely helped speed up the process for me by showing me what to focus on. I am thankful to have met people like them that did not mind helping someone they did not even know. Especially since when we lifted together, they had to reduce the weights to accommodate for me and rerack the weights for themselves which I now know is not the most fun process.
As I touched on in my previous post, nutrition is a key factor in the path to a healthy and fit lifestyle. There are various points that need to be taken into consideration when forming your diet. The most important fact I learned when I began researching about nutrition was that everyone’s body is different and there is not a one size fits all diet that you can go by. There are of course key foods that are noted as healthy, but you need to find foods that work best with your body through trial and error. Foods that may be healthy for one, can be harmful for another due to differences in the bacteria of our stomachs. In addition to this, depending on where you are in your fitness journey, your diet can change.
When I started incorporating my knowledge of nutrition into my fitness journey, I was focused on gaining weight through building muscle. The main thing to acknowledge when doing this is that your muscles need food after a workout to repair and grow. Protein is key for this process. I began drinking my whey protein shakes but also added in a lot of other important nutrients to retain and regain energy. These foods are referred to as superfoods. The main ones I include in my shake are flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp protein, cocoa powder, wheat grass, and maca powder. These foods all contain important nutrients such as omegas, iron, fiber, and more. I mix these with my protein powder and mixed fruits for a surprisingly well-tasting shake. Occasionally, depending on what I eat, I’ll add a healthy fat like an avocado or some type of vegetable like spinach. This shake is a great energizer so it can be a good pre-workout shake but it’s even better after a workout to replenish your body with nutrients it has used up and build muscle. Incorporating this shake into my daily routine improved my functionality all around, with fitness, school, sleep, and work.
As for regular meals, a balanced diet is always important. Cutting out any part of the food pyramid, such as carbohydrates, is not likely to produce good results. Even when I was trying to lose body fat, I kept all food groups in, including fats but healthy fats. I just ensured to reduce my calories but keep my protein intake high to keep my muscle mass. It is more difficult to keep up with three well balanced meals when at school because of limited options and time to cook but meal prepping is usually of great help. I try to cook at least my meals for lunch on the weekend and keep them packed for the week. These meals usually include rice or bread, a lean meat such as turkey or chicken, and vegetables and fruits. Breakfast and dinner are similar in what it consists of but they vary.
I began gaining significant muscle mass once I focused on a better diet alongside my workouts. It is important to learn what is good for your body and formulate a plan designed to fit your body’s preferences. Additionally, remember the significance of not cutting out any major food groups as they all contribute differently to helping your body function better.
I started working out about three years ago. I got into fitness because I gained a passion for sports, specifically basketball and track. These sports require great abdominal strength and therefore, I decided to start training officially. It took me about a year to really get a consistent routine going as I was continuously learning more about fitness over time. I also was balancing school and work at the time, so my time was limited. I mostly did bodyweight exercises when I began and only trained abs about once a week. Most of my workouts consisted of planks, crunches, and similar exercises. These began to tone my abs but I plateaued after a certain amount of time.
Once I began learning more, I added proper nutrition to my routine. I cut out unnecessary foods and tried to cook more. From then on, my diet consisted mostly of lean meat such as chicken and turkey and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. I also increased my protein intake with whey protein shakes and balanced out with healthy carbs. This helped define my abs more as my body fat percentage decreased and my muscles were getting the proper nutrition to grow. It is very well known that becoming healthy and fit is due to 80% nutrition and 20% fitness. Learning this helped me significantly but that 20% was still lacking because I needed to train better.
Joining basketball is what pushed me past what I perceived to be my limits. My coach introduced me to various new exercises that made my core more sore than I could imagine. I started training about 3 times a week with equipment for abs, performing exercises that I did not even know existed. One of the key points I picked up was that resistance was a huge part of training abs. I used cable machines a lot for twisting motions to train my obliques and dumbbells and plates to target all parts of my abs. I quickly learned that my favorite equipment to use was the ab wheel. There are approximately 50 exercises that you can complete using the ab wheel and they are all beyond effective. I started incorporating the wheel in my training every week.
Essentially, the ab wheel rollout motion applies extension forces to the body that are attempting to drive your spine and hips down and forward into the floor. It can then be considered an anti-extension movement as you have to use your ab muscles to resist the forces from the wheel. To further explain, this is done by isometrically activating and contracting nearly the entire anterior core as well as deeper core stabilizers. This includes the transverse abs, rectus abdominals, external and internal obliques, serratus anterior and even the deep underlying quadratus lumborum to a degree. As you can see, the wheel targets all parts of the core and therefore, is a great exercise to incorporate into your training. The results from simply adding the wheel to your routine are significant.
Welcome to my fitness journey where i can lead you to a strong workout all around. Is the secret to staying fit and enjoying the process. It can be hard to know where to start with fitness. Lots of people know they want to get fit and healthy, but don’t know what to do first. Finding a sport that you enjoy can make a difference between sticking to your fitness journey or losing motivation. Sports and Fitness that you enjoy can make a difference between sticking to your fitness journey or losing motivation. Free and Fun Ways to Improve Your Fitness. It can be hard to know where to start with fitness. Lots of people know they want to get fit and healthy, but don’t know what to do first I’m here to make a change and build your confidence.