I’ve been running Skinny Muscles for nearly two years now. I’ve read a countless number of articles, studies and books about fitness and nutrition. I’ve exercised at home and I’ve shared my knowledge with you but for the best part of these two years, I haven’t looked like somebody who runs their own fitness blog (there I said it). Why?
It’s only for the past few months that I have actually started to practice what I preach. I’ve joined the gym and I’ve worked out really hard but I still have a long way to go before I can “look the part”.
“If you don’t make mistakes, you are not really trying.”
Five months into my gym membership, I feel ready to put my hand up and admit to my mistakes. The funny thing is that I am aware of them but carry on regardless.
So, here goes: my mistakes as a skinny guy and a gym beginner.
5. SET MY EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH
From the minute I first set foot in the gym, I knew I wanted to get my body fat down to 10% but preferably less, push my weight up to 188lbs [85kgs], have very well defined chest and 15in biceps.
I didn’t want six pack abs because I was recovering from a hernia repair surgery at the time and didn’t want to do any direct abs exercises. I thought it was unreasonable to expect a six pack in six weeks in my situation. I thought I was very realistic expecting to achieve everything else on my list.
I hired a personal trainer and expected to achieve all that in the first six weeks. Right?
How wrong was I? It took me 12 weeks to get my body fat under 20%, my weight is 183lbs [83kgs] (as of today), my chest is defined but not how I expected it and my biceps are 13.5in.
As you can imagine, I was very disappointed with my results at the end of the first 6 weeks. I felt like I’ve wasted my time and money. I was making progress and I was gaining strength but my body looked pretty much the same.
It normally takes at least 12 weeks to notice any visible changes in your physique. That’s just an estimate and it varies from person to person. Set your goals and give yourself enough time to achieve them. Changing your body takes time and is a long process. Just bare that in mind and don’t let the lack of results put you off going to the gym and working out.
Don’t compare yourself to your favourite fitness model or to a 12-week body transformation featured in a magazine. Whilst possible, these people normally have access to a lot more help than you and I. In the real world of Average Joe, things take time.
4. WORKING OUT TOO MUCH
Working out too much is not a good idea and is to be avoided at all costs, especially if you are a skinny guy and a gym beginner like me (see my article on over exercising here). Yet,I decided to ignore it and go to the gym four days a week working out for an hour or so each session. I maintained that for the first 4-6 weeks before I came to my senses and went on to a 3-day workout schedule.
When I was doing four gym sessions a week, I felt constantly tired and struggled to find the energy to complete my sets. My body wasn’t happy with my ambitious workout schedule but I ignored it. I thought that feeling tired and achey is a sign of my muscles growing.
Wrong again. It was a sign but my body was telling me to stop putting it through this torture and slow down.
I went on a 3-day schedule and felt much better. I had enough time to recover between the sessions and I looked forward to going to the gym. I didn’t feel as tired and had the energy, and stamina to complete my sessions.
Listen to your body and do as it tells you. It’s much better to take a day (or more if necessary) off rather than working out too much and not getting anywhere.
3. LIFTING WEIGHTS THAT ARE TOO HEAVY
My personal trainer knows my abilities and he always picks the appropriate weights for me. It works great and although I struggle at times, I always manage to squeeze in the last couple of reps.
When I workout on my own, it’s a different story. Not having the security of my personal trainer, I feel like I need to push myself really hard in order to achieve the same effect. Pushing myself normally means picking up the wrong weights.
I go for the next weights up and end up going back to the weights I am supposed to lift in order to complete my last set.
As a result of that, I have a “dodgy” left shoulder. I was doing a Standing Dumbbell Squat to Shoulder Press with far too heavy dumbbells and my left shoulder just gave up. In my desperation to complete the set, I managed to somehow twist and injure it.
Remember to always pick up weights that are heavy enough to challenge you but not injure you and prevent you from completing your sets. You can get a really good workout with moderate weights providing that you use the correct exercise technique.
2. AVOIDING EXERCISES I DON’T LIKE
That’s something I do on regular basis when I workout on my own. I am meant to do three sets of planks to failure at the end of my session. Guess what – I only do one set of about a minute every other week.
I don’t know what it is about these planks that puts me off.
It’s quite demanding when done properly and for the correct duration but I still struggle to see it as a “proper” exercise. I also feel quite silly doing it in the middle of the gym. Well, it’s not literally in the middle of the gym but it feels like it is.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that in order for any workout programme to work, you need to do all of the exercises in it.
1. NOT EATING ENOUGH
That’s my biggest mistake and my Achilles Heel. I just don’t eat enough. It’s not because I am too lazy to cook. Most of the time I don’t feel hungry and because of that, I tend to skip meals.
Breakfast is the most challenging meal of the day for me. I have to force myself to have anything for breakfast and it normally takes me 30-45 mins to finish it.
Going to the gym on a completely empty stomach is a bad idea. Try to have a banana and a protein shake (at least). Otherwise you are better off not going to the gym at all. Why? Doing one of my workout sessions on an empty stomach resulted in me collapsing: in the middle of my session, in the free weights area. Enough said.
If you are doing everything else right but not eating, then you are compromising not just your health but your body transformation too. You need to feed your muscles if you want to notice them.
These are my mistakes. I probably make many more, especially when working on my own, but these are the ones that, I feel, prevent me from achieving my goals. What mistakes do you make (did make) as a skinny guy and a gym beginner?