“If you could go back in time, what would be the biggest mistake you would stop yourself from committing?” My peers ask me that sometimes. I see it asked on reddit too. For me, my greatest lifting rookie mistake would be not sticking with one good training programme for long enough. I always wanted to “optimise” my performance. I read through forums, online reviews as well as watched Youtubers giving their opinions on various lifting programs. Moreover, I went to purchase some of their programs.
However, I realised that the programs are nothing special. Yes, your favourite content creator may promote his program and tell you about how much effort he has put in it. But, you are not short changing yourself by using free resources. There are SO many good free resources out there on the internet.
Good free resources
The subreddit r/Fitness even has its own wiki site. There are so many good resources and readings there. I can guarantee you, if you finished reading AND understanding everything on the wiki site, you are pretty much set and ready to lift.
If you are a beginner, I highly recommend starting with a full body routine, following this routine. Once you have used it diligently (and not commit to fuckarounditis), for about 7 months (or if you stop progressing every workout session), switch to a weekly progression routine. There are tonnes of workout routines like that.
I personally loved nSuns 5/3/1. Personally I did this program on and off, mainly due to sub-par programming and impatience on my part. But also due to difficulty to schedule my time around the program. Although this program has been criticised for having too much junk volume, it has built my working capacity very well and I would say it is a reason why I can tolerate Boring But Big’s 5×10 sets.
Currently I am doing Jim Wendler’s most popular program Boring But Big. I have been seeing really good results and loving it so far. But the 5×10 sets are really brutal.
I started researching and learning about lifting when I was 15. I just read a lot of forums and watch many videos. But I never actually did it. When I hit 16, I started going to the gym for real. At first, I was very scared just like many of us. I started with a simple modified 5×5 program called Ice Cream Fitness.
After I stopped progressing (which was about 7 months in), I switched to nSuns 5/3/1. For the first 6 months, I witnessed crazy progress with the program. Progressing week by week and looking bigger. However, as JC started to settle in, I began to find less time to go to the gym. Therefore, I could only work once, maybe twice a week. It was very hard to maintain a schedule. I would say that throughout my 2 JC years, I was mostly coasting and maintaining my physique. It did not really blow up much. Although I could have done more, I don’t think it would really help my mental health at that point. So, I am glad I made the right decision.
Side note: Along the way, I switched to a 6 day Push Pull Legs split during one of the June holidays. It gave me a good understanding of what a hypertrophy program was like and I hope to go back to a hypertrophy program once the 5/3/1 BBB stalls out. This was my greatest lifting mistake.
Thankfully, as A levels ended, I began to workout again and continued using nSuns. I made pretty good progress. Then, 1 month before Circuit Breaker hit, I switched to 5/3/1 BBB.
With CB, I could only do mostly push and ab workouts at home with my yoga mat because I did not have a pull up bar at home. Luckily, the pandemic situation has since improved in Singapore and I have been going to the gym on a regular basis.
What you should do
Any of the programs or free resources I mentioned in the article are superb resources. Pick one that you like and suits you. Stick with it. Track your progress. I like a good ol’ spreadsheet. Go to liftvault.com for custom spreadsheets. Another good resource.
Track your weight. Watch your diet. Take progress pictures. Over time, you are bound to get bigger. Trust me.
Don’t make the greatest lifting mistake of constantly switching it up. There is no muscle confusion. You are just confusing yourself.
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