HEALTH AND FITNESS: I have recently joined a gym. It has just been over a week. What are the biggest mistakes that people make at the gym? What should I eat before going to the gym? And how should I prepare physically before going to the gym? 

Tashi, Thimphu

Dear Tashi,

Depending on how you approach this journey, you alone will be able to dictate the results. Find an experienced, educated and passionate individual to guide you. And you must follow his advice. With the advent of internet, you undoubtedly will be bombarded with so many contradicting information. It is, therefore, important  to have a single person to guide you through. 

The biggest weight training mistakes (in my opinion):

1. More is merrier: most beginners think if they train for an hour and gain 1 kg muscle in a month, two hours will equate to twice the size and strength. But after a certain point, returns from training diminishes. And if you keep pushing on, regression, mental and physical burn out or injury are the most likely results you will have. 

2. Mimicking the biggest guy: 

It’s extremely common to follow knowingly or unknowingly the biggest guy in the gym’s workout routine. He might have found what works for him, but not for the whole weight lifting community. Follow the big guys cautiously, listen to his advice keenly, practice it for a couple of weeks and then decide whether it benefits your goals or not.

Tip of the week:

“Immerse yourself completely in the process of rebuilding, rather than solely focussing on measuring the progress. You are more likely to enjoy significant results.”

3. Lifting heavy weights: 

I know how cool it is to have the whole gym stand still to watch you perform a set of heavy dumbbell or barbell work, but heavy weights can hurt and hinder results. Perfecting the form first is paramount. Then chase and test your strength cautiously. Remember that weights that you cannot perform at least 8 repetitions with good form will not help muscle grow. 

4. Muscle is not built at the gym: 

We only stimulate muscle growth in the gym. In fact,  we do nothing but harm ourselves at the gym. By weight training hard, we create microscopic tears on our muscle fibres. For the process to complete from stimulation to recovery and than growth, your training must be backed by a sound nutrition plan and adequate rest. Only when you give your body sufficient nutrients and calories can it heal the microscopic tears and rebuild stronger and bigger muscle tissue. The most basic requirement is to consume 1.5gm of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to ensure adequate protein for muscle resynthesis. 

What should you eat before training? Ideally eating a whole meal 90 minutes before training, consisting of a medium portion of easy-to-digest protein and carbohydrate is best.Eg. 100 gm white rice (weighed uncooked)100  gm chicken breast (weighed uncooked) How should one prepare for training? Besides eating a sound pre-workout meal, knowing exactly what exercise, how many sets, how many repetitions you are going to do should all be well rehearsed, so that when you enter the gym you just flow, you don’t think. 

Tshering Dorji (three times Mr Bhutan winner), is a certified fitness trainer and specialist in performance nutrition


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