Some advice I wish I could’ve given my 17 yr self 20 years ago:
The first 10 years of my fitness journey were all about strength and building muscle. That’s all I cared about. I didn’t care about endurance, flexibility, or a lot of other very important pillars of fitness. On this blog I am going to give all of you out there that are looking to increase strength, my opinion on the best way to go about seeing results and how to avoid a lot of mistakes I made along the way.
At 17 years old I only had two things on my mind, girls and sports. I needed to get big and strong fast. As with most teens patience wasn’t in my vocabulary. This will be my first piece of advice.
When it comes to building muscle and strength the first thing you will need to have is patience. Strength takes years and years to develop. The good thing is when you first start, you DO NOT need heavy loads. All this strength training will be new to the body so strength will increase no matter what.
Take the time to learn proper mechanics (moving properly), improve flexibility, mobility, and knowledge about the human body so that you can get into the correct positions and avoid injuries. I’ve probably had almost every injury in the book when it comes to fitness. Trust me, having these setbacks does not speed up progress.
If I could go back and give that 17 year old some advice, I would have him spend the entire first year really perfecting body mechanics and working on flexibility. This would’ve saved me a world of hurt down the road.
Second piece of advice….. once you are moving correctly, now you can SLOWLY start to increase loads. Remember this is not a sprint, SLOWLY is the key word here. By slowly introducing heavier loads, this will allow all systems of the body time to adapt to the new stress accordingly and drastically reduce the chance of injury.
Here’s number 3. As we increase the loads there will be a greater amount of stress on all systems (which is how we get stronger. It’s called adaptation). With this added stress, rest and recovery become much more important. Partying like a rock star and sleeping 3-4 hours is not recommended here (Another huge mistake Mr. Marcel made during his young strength training days.)
Fueling our bodies with proper nutrition not only helps us perform better but will also improve the quality of our recovery and the speed at which we recover, allowing us to get back into the gym much quicker.
Sleep is king or queen when it comes to recovery. I know a lot of you have heard that we grow when we sleep. It’s very true but there is a lot more magic that happens with proper sleep. We heal when we sleep. Each strength training session we basically sustain small injuries.
Connective tissues, muscle tissues and our CNS (central nervous system) are slightly injured which requires the body to heal and get stronger. It’s just like breaking a bone and having it come back stronger than ever with proper recovery.
Final piece of advice…. Mental toughness. Those of you that have been into fitness for 5+ years know just how hard it is to keep motivation high. The longer you train the harder it is to continue improving fitness. This doesn’t mean we just give up. We have to get creative and rely on our discipline when the motivation isn’t there. Setting new goals is crucial when it comes to sparking that motivational flame.
As we age it becomes a constant uphill battle to keep those gainZ coming. Sadly we don’t have as much of the good stuff running through our veins like that 17 year old did. Start thinking about longevity. How can we train to keep us highly functional well into our 90s? Quick tip, continuing to chase bench press and squatting records will not help with longevity.
We should turn our focus to yes maintaining strength but also work on things such as balance, coordination and flexibility. These are the things that tend to diminish really fast if we don’t work on them.
Being able to play basketball with your daughter or take care of yourself in your 90s is much more important than chasing a 500lb deadlift.