You woke up tired and stiff one morning and said to yourself, "Goddammit I'm going to get in shape!"
You had no idea where to start or what to do but you got started and sought out a trainer to help you nail the basics and get the party started.
Remember that first work out? Your heart was pounding, your palms were sweaty, your face was red... and that was before the workout even started. You were a complete noob.
That was a year ago.
It hasn't been 'perfect' but you've been fairly consistent for twelve months. You're more confident walking into the gym and you actually remember the name of most of the exercises. You're lifting more weight, are moving MUCH better, and don't get as sore between workouts.
More importantly: you've NAILED the fundamentals!
So, the question is... now what?
In this article you'll learn:
- How you know you're not a beginner anymore
- When to move on to a more advanced workout routine
- How to keep making progress
Are you an absolute beginner or an advanced ninja? Perhaps somewhere in between?
If you're in the Boston area and want to take your fitness gainz to the next level, we'd love to help!
Before we get started, it's important to understand a couple things.
- What is a fitness beginner?
- What are the fundamentals?
You Might Be a Fitness Noob If...
This might seem a bit obvious but not always too clear when you just lack experience (READ THIS). And not understanding where you are can make it tricky from a training standpoint. What should you be focusing on?
You don't need to be too meticulous about doing too many things. The goal should simply be to show up, learn, have fun, and NAIL the fundamentals. That's it. Sound good?
Besides that there are only a few things a beginner MUST understand:
- Change takes time: You're going to need to accept that learning new things (and getting results) takes patience. There is no 'Magic Length of Time' that you should aim for. Just learn and enjoy the journey.
- Strength is a skill: Just like learning to play an instrument, you will have to practice. Unless you were born with the 'Athletic Ninja Gene' you will have to focus on learning the basics first before advancing.
- Trust the program: People are often on the right track; they just don't think they are. And that's when decision making gets all f@#$ed up. If you're getting just 1% better or making progress then the program is working. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
You might be moving past this phase when:
- You're confident enough to do it on your own
- You're able to recognize good reps vs. poor ones
- You're brilliant at the basics.
So what exactly are 'the basics'?
The 'FUN'dametals of Fitness
Simply stated, these are the building blocks of functional movement and the first things you'll want to master on your fitness journey. Nailing these FIRST will make quantum mechanics or a more challenging exercise a breeze!
Mechanically, these movements would be:
- core control
Pretty much every exercise you will perform at AMP will generally fall into one of those 5 'buckets'. And each bucket has a starting point in terms of simplicity. The fundamentals if you will.
These fitness fundamentals would are:
- hinge: deadlifts
- squat: goblet squats and lunges
- push: push ups
- pull: rows
- core control: planks and carrying things
These are the exercises that should be the primary focus of any beginner until they are able to be implemented with savage excellence. I use the phrase 'savage excellence' because they should be able to be performed better than just 'good'. You should be brilliant at the basics before moving on.
Once these start to feel simple or perhaps too easy, that's great!
So, what next? What could possibly be the next step in your fitness journey?
Here are a few options:
1. Play With Heavier Toys
Now that you've mastered the basics you can start to work on developing savage strength by working towards strength goals on individual exercises. And if you're doing fitness right, it's pretty much the adult version of playing. And if you think of all the equipment we use as being 'toys' then the logical step to getting stronger is to start playing with heavier toys.
Since you've been NAILING the basics the movements should be starting to feel 'easy' which is EXACTLY what you want. Now, you can start approaching the bigger weights with confidence, enthusiasm and a robust vigor! But don't worry, the lighter weights are still there to comfort you when you're just not feeling it.
Important Note: 'Easy' or 'light' doesn't mean you're not getting anything out of it. You can be maintaining strength, even building strength, or working on patterning even with lighter weights. These are all good things!
Strength is always sexy!
2. Master a New Skill
Now that you've mastered the building blocks of strength and movement it's time to put those bad Larry's to use mastering a new set of skills. Because, as you know, one of the things we teach at AMP is that strength is a learnable skill!
One of the things the founder of Strong First, Pavel Tsatsouline, has taught us is that you can build strength through skill and the nervous system rather than being dependent on muscle mass alone. Simply, you can get strong AF by patterning specific strength movements without getting huge AF. (But that's okay, too, if you want.)
You can think of the fundamentals as the foundation and now you can build one strong and sexy house. Without building that base of skill just getting hyooge is like building a sand castle and waiting for a strong wave to wash it away. (credit: Joe Rogan)
As we age we'll naturally lose muscle mass, therefore, the skill of strength ages much better. (credit: Mark Reifkind)
Here are a few examples of some advanced skills:
- chin ups
- 1-arm push ups
- pistol squats
- pretty much any ninja skill
3. Explore Other Areas of YOUR Fitness
Fitness is defined as the state of being physically fit and healthy. I would expand that definition to include mental health as well and make fitness the state of being the best and most healthy version of yourself. And there are a LOT of ways to promote that besides just working out.
We all have things we're inherently good at, things that come naturally, things we suck at, and things that we need to work on. In a vacuum, we'd be able to get better at all the things all the time. But we don't live in a vacuum and we only have so much bandwidth to focus on improving each area of our lives and fitness.
In the beginning, nailing the basics should be the priority but once those are mastered you'll be able to set those skills on autopilot and start focusing on other areas that need work. That could be everything from mindset to recovery to nutrition to relationships. All of the things that will help you be the best version of yourself.
Once fitness basics are on autopilot, you could focus on:
- mindset (gratitude journaling, reading, self growth, yoga/breathing practice)
- recovery (sleep, meditation, #TreatYoSelf)
- nutrition (meal prep, tracking to know where you're at,
- relationships (meaningful discussions, all the hugs)
Wrap Up: Just Keep Getting 1% Better Every Day
Fitness isn't always about reaching big goals and it's okay to go at our own pace. And at AMP, our Super Humans have adopted our mantra of "1% better every day."
Not coincidentally, one of the hallmarks of an advanced trainee is recognizing that the journey itself is 'just as' if not MORE important than any individual goal. So if you start to feel like there MUST be something that comes next...take a step back and view yourself through this lens. Are you enjoying the journey and getting a little better each day?