Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Working Out

Man working out in a gym

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If I could give my younger self some advice? Run a mile without stopping. Squat until your body aches. Curl until failure. Keep going and going and going. 

I wish I had known sooner how my hourly grunt sessions in the gym would make me healthier, stronger and happier. But I can’t travel back in time, so here are 10 things I wish someone told me before working out.

1. The Best Time To Start Is Today

It sounds cliché, but I regret not starting years earlier. I had no problem with my body, but I also didn’t care if I got drunk or didn’t sleep for 48 hours. As I grew older, I noticed the back aches after doing tasks became bothersome. 

It was my body telling me I needed to get stronger. I’d been putting off exercise because I couldn’t find the time for it. But I realized, if not now, when? When I’m 60 and moving is painful? 

The best time for the gym was years ago. The ideal time is now. 


2. Every Person Is as Self-Conscious as You

The first time I walked into that big, daunting room full of equipment, I was impressed by the people I saw. They looked confident. I became self-conscious and felt like everyone was eyeing me. 

Months later, two of those people became my gym buddies. I learned they’re as self-conscious as everyone else. They looked like they knew what they were doing but didn’t. So don’t be distracted by what others do and focus on your own routine.

3. You Can Learn To Love Working Out

You don’t have to be athletic to love working out or succeed at it. I often hear people say they didn’t grow up active and weren’t sportspeople who needed training or exercise. 

For them, it’s only necessary if you want to build muscle or train for an upcoming competition. You can consider these sessions an investment in your health and part of your new lifestyle.

Man sitting in a gym

4. Form Is the Most Important Thing

Many gym enthusiasts are obsessed with how much weight they lift and think it’s everything. But that’s far from the truth. Instead, aim for good form when strength training. 

Improper alignment places unnecessary stress on the tendons and joints, resulting in injuries. Get a personal trainer on your first week who can guide you. It may be challenging to keep a perfect proper posture when you’re struggling to crank out that last set, but you get better with practice. Eventually, form becomes second nature to you.

5. Train Your Glutes

Most just throw some iron on their shoulders and skip training their glutes. I did the same and underestimated their use. If your shoulder muscles control upper mobility, your glutes have the same role in your lower extremities. 

The gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle in your body. It’s critical in sports and lower mobility. Those with weak glutes will likely experience chronic pain, injury and reduced athletic performance. 

I did many box squats, a variation of traditional squat exercises, to strengthen my glute muscles. You can do other exercises that suit you.

6. Engage Your Entire Body When Training

I used to lay on the bench press and let my shoulders do the work, so I wasn’t maximizing the results. Everything should be tight. Engage your whole body. Use your core muscles to strengthen your shoulders when lifting weights. This contributes to proper form. 

7. Working Out Doesn’t Mean You Can Indulge 

It took me time to understand that exercise goes hand in hand with eating clean. My diet habits were unhealthy. I thought it was fine since I burned the calories anyway. But the junk I ate didn’t support my fitness goal of becoming lean. 

Now, I eat a balanced diet and consume more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I’ve never felt so energized and happy after making the shift.

Man working out in a gym

8. Take Photos

Take some pictures. I regret not documenting my progress since it could have inspired one more person to live a healthy lifestyle if I had shared it on social media. 

I’m still floored with how dramatic the changes have been in my face and frame. So, take those before and progress photos to have something to look at when you feel like quitting. 

9. What Works for Others May Not Work for You

What has worked for a guy on the internet may not be effective for you. I followed many fitness buffs on YouTube and did their routines, but I never saw real progress. Each body responds differently to specific routines. Several factors have a hand in getting the results you expect, such as techniques, genetic ceiling, lifestyle and load. 

Ask an expert to personalize your routines based on your ability level, goal, age, gender and state of health. 

10. Don’t Overdo It

I can’t count the times I heard my coach say this to me. There’s a fine line between overdoing and pushing the body to a limit. 

While it’s important to challenge yourself, never overlook the sensations your muscles send. They’re biological relays telling you’ve passed the borderline of safety. Stop if you feel pain anywhere and get checked if it persists. 

Enjoy Every Minute of Working Out

Being able to exercise is a privilege, not a chore. Many people want to experience and feel what it’s like to move freely again. We have one body and it’s our responsibility to care for it. So, stop hesitating and sign up for that gym membership today. 

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