When you first start working out, you’re like a newly hatched caterpillar. If you stick with it you’ll go through these stages on your way to becoming a beautiful little butterfly!
- What the hell is that? You decide you’re going to start working out. You join a gym and you do the tour. Everything looks like some sort of torture device. You have no idea how any of the equipment works. The place is loud, and if you’re starting in January, probably packed with people.
- You’re sore. Everywhere. If it’s going to be like this all the time, how do people do this? The bad news is the first couple of weeks can be brutal. You’re doing a bunch of new exercises, working muscles you didn’t know you had. For a while, those muscles are going to scream at you. The good news is this passes.
- Is that a … bicep? A few weeks in, you notice some slight changes. Holy shit, it’s working! You spend a little more time in the mirror. Perhaps you start pondering an overhaul of your entire wardrobe.
- Acolyte. This might be the most annoying phase. You know just a little bit and you can’t resist sharing your wisdom with anyone and everyone around you. You regurgitate every tip you’ve ever heard with supreme confidence. Try not to linger here too long or you risk losing friends and family forever.
- I am invincible! You’re in a solid groove now. It’s been several weeks. You’re stronger every time you enter the gym. The weights keep going up. You wonder how long it’ll be before the Avengers ask you to join. You might not even want to be part of the group, but at least you can give them some workout pointers.
- Stuck. Your newbie gains phase is over. You used to increase the weights on the barbell every week, now it’s a lot less frequent. You wonder what happened. Is it time to completely change your training program? Find a new guru?
- Switch it up. You make some changes in your training and you’re back on the gains train, even though it’s not like the Newbie Express.
- Satisfied! Injured? If you train consistently over time you’re going to get nagging little injuries. Taking a little time off can help. Or, if you’re like me when I first started, you decide, “I’m satisfied. I bet if I stop working out for a while, my gains will just stay.” And you end up chillin’ for months. Don’t do that. They won’t stay. Take a week or two, then get back into it. Your progress won’t evaporate in a couple weeks. If you end up taking an extended break, you will backslide. Fortunately, re-gaining is significantly easier than gaining the first time.
- Pruning. You’ve figured out the sweet spot of what works for you and what you enjoy doing. Your efficiency spikes and you don’t waste time doing the newest fad program that got (insert celebrity name here) in amazing shape in only three weeks.
- Enjoy the process. At this point, you realize you actually enjoy training. Not just the results, but the training itself. That’s good because you’ve been at it probably a couple years. You’ve had good results. You’re also in the area of diminishing returns. You have to fight for every added pound on the bar now.