things you wish you'd done differently when you started

Off topic discussions. Feel free to talk about anything here.

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, darshana, stuward

Post Reply
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4424
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:20 pm

things you wish you'd done differently when you started

Post by robertscott » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:03 am

I think it's fair to say that when most people first pick up a barbell they haven't a clue what the hell they're doing. It was certainly true in my case. My first ever workout "routine" (and I use the term with more than just a hint of irony) consisted of one workout a week - wednesday afternoon - which was completely machine based, awful machines too, took about 2 hours to complete and had no training for legs whatsoever. The really sad thing is I did this routine for about 2 YEARS. Did I make any progress? It may come as a surprise that I most definitely did not, even with my Schwarzeneggerian genetics.

So how about a list of the things you wish you'd done differently when you started? Who knows, maybe some newb'll stumble across it and learn some important insights allowing them to soar to new heights of musclehood? Or maybe it'll just give us a chance for a nostalgic trip down memory lane and let us laugh at how much of a bunch of dumbasses we all were (or are).

My list is as follows:

1. Train legs. I'm sure I'm not the only person who got this wrong, if I'd known how much bigger it would make me, and also the positive effect on my once agonising lower back, I'd have been much more likely to squat and deadlift.
2. Balance pressing and pulling to fix my rounded shoulders. I had the most godawful posture when I was younger. Typical hunched over teenage boy posture, shuffling around in baggy jeans and hoodies. I cringe so much now when I see pictures of myself as a gawky teen.
3. Changing exercises when progress stagnates. I plateaud for so long it's embarrassing, and I actually thought it was because I was a "hardgainer", not because of anything I was doing wrong. Fact was I had been doing the same exercises with the same sets/reps for millennia.
4. Getting my diet sorted. This is the single biggest change I made to my training, and embarrassingly I only did it a couple of years ago. I hid behind the "hardgainer" moniker for years, and couldn't understand why, although I was eating around 4000 calories a day, I wasn't getting any bigger. I'd say about 60% of those calories came from sugar, specifically chocolate milk. Looking back it was only my skinny guy genetics that stopped me getting really, really fat. Who would've thought the bodybuilders who said you should eat at least 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight were right?
5. Squatting for high reps. Even when I started training legs, I was just interested in piling weight on the bar. every workout I'd work up to a 5RM, and although I got stronger, my toothpicks stayed toothpicks. Now I know to gain size in my legs I need an obscene amount of volume.

Anyone else got any mistakes worth sharing?

Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:44 pm

Post by didymus » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:06 pm

My parents bought me a cheap bench with some plastic weights about 40 years ago... I "followed" the directions on the poster that came with the set for a couple of weeks.

I don't know what happened to that set... never seen it since...

Bought myself a nice adjustable bench with a leg curl and preacher curl attachment about 21 years ago. "Followed" the instructions in the manual and on the poster for about 10 weeks or so. I then did the "advanced" workout for about 10 weeks. Then I took "just a couple" of weeks off.

About 3 months ago, I found some old clothes that I haven't worn in some time. Son-of-a-gun!! Wasn't there some kinda exercise equipment under those old clothes!!

Been working out diligently and working on the diet ever since...

This time...

Haven't felt better in my life. And I'm not gonna stop this time! I promised my heart AND my belly!

Veteren Member
Veteren Member
Posts: 2003
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 6:40 am
Location: Texas

Post by hoosegow » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:02 pm

I'm with you on squatting robert.

Work on form.

Work on form.

Work on form.

Work on form.

Incorporated some soft tissue and flexibility work.

Posts: 928
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Ohio, USA

Post by Rucifer » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:26 pm

This may sound dumb Hoosegow but what do you mean by soft tissue work?

For me..form definitely. And trained legs at first RIGHT. And realize I don't need to go all out every workout I do, and not workout almost everyday of the week. Oh and when I was running, not running for more than 30 mins a day. Ugh I tore my body up thinking I was doing good :neu:

Matt Z
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 4505
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 1:19 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Post by Matt Z » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:45 pm

Training for performance rather than bodybuilding-type training
Shorter workouts
Fewer machines
Less isolation
Form (was never really bad, but definately better now)

User avatar
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 1802
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:51 pm
Location: Mass, USA

Post by nygmen » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:46 pm

1)Ate more protein and not be afraid of carbs

2)See the big picture rather than focus on the details

3)Attention to getting stronger on curls and lateral raises from day one

4)Actually work my shoulders like I did everything else

5)Never try Front squats and I wouldn't have shin splints

6)Dropped that one stupid ^%&*(*& deadlift that I felt and heard my right trap rip.

7)Inlcines, inclines inclines

8)Took care of my elbows sooner

9)Rear delt rows I've been doing, wish I started earlier

10) Learned to listen to my body sooner

That is all I got so far...

Posts: 173
Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 6:59 am
Location: Sydney

Post by Velcropop » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:48 am

1) Squat form
2) Squat form
3) Deadlift form
4) Squat form
5) Ate better (more protein+fats less carbs)
6) Bought SS sooner than I did
7) Less upright rows
8) Squat form
9) Ate better
10) Squat form

As you can tell, I find squat form incredibly important. I guess it's one of those the more I learn the less I know deals. My workouts are as much about perfecting form as they are about lifting heavy. If I had had the knowledge I have today I probably could have avoided a knee surgery (possibly two if my MRI on thursday shows anything) and would still be playing sport competitively.

Associate Member
Associate Member
Posts: 459
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:16 am

Post by RobertB » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:41 am

1) Not half as bad as you Rscott :smile: but I too did 3 months of a split isolation involving majority machines - I did have leg days though. So, wish I'd started on Starting Strength or SL5x5 from day one.

2) trying to shed fat at the same time as doing SS - I think people should just get that foundation sorted before worrying about a 6 pack or "looking" stronger (the numbers are there, you're obviously improving...). So, Wish I'd stuck with a calorie surplus.

3) Squat form (ongoing...) - I was thrilled that the number kept going up, little did I notice that I too was going up at the same time :) eventually I think I would have been "squatting" 200 kilos 0.5 cm :red:

4) Listened to you guys in regards to GOMAD - sure its a good gainer, but for bigger guys I think the 500 tons of lactose is instant fatty :) I do have faith it is ideal for small framed/built people though.

5) Worked Abs - I took what you guys said a little far (i.e. you suggested newbies forget the curl/situp/"forearm" mentality, but you didnt mean avoid them at all costs) and never did a single ab exercise, now I train it somewhat and like the mid section tension it offers.

Veteren Member
Veteren Member
Posts: 2003
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 6:40 am
Location: Texas

Post by hoosegow » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:26 am

Soft tissue work - foam roller, medicine ball rolling, etc.

User avatar
Posts: 7578
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:11 am
Location: Kudjip, Papua New Guinea

Post by Jungledoc » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:03 am

I wish I'd learned to use free weights from the beginning.

I wish I'd started about 30 years sooner!

Posts: 625
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:16 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Post by wilburburns » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:17 am

1: Not wasted nearly a year doing machine work and "Toning" exercises.
2: Didn't try and do Starting Strength while eating at a caloric deficit
3: Continued doing Starting Strength longer while eating right
4: Took my Leg workouts more seriously
5: Stayed more focused and didn't take so many breaks or time off
6: Didn't take so long to build my home gym..


Post Reply