The first port of call that most health-conscious people have, is the gym. And because of all the misinformation out there, I find that people have very diverse, and very incorrect ideas about what to do at the gym.
As a beginner, these opposing views can be frustrating at best, and downright dangerous and counter-productive at worst.
So I thought I'll put together answers to the most frequently asked questions about gymming.
1. How Long to Gym?
No one answer fits all!
Don’t take your phone. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t let your heart rate drop to less than 50% MHR (max heart rate). Then let it take as long as it has to.
2. Should You Start with Cardio or End?
I’ve learnt that if gaining muscle is your goal then you must have enough energy to lift a heavy LOAD (see below). If you deplete early with cardio, you won’t be able to lift. So just warm up a bit (1 km run). Leave actual cardio for last.
Progressive loading is how muscles grow. It isn’t reps or weight that makes muscles grow. It’s their multiple.
Load = Reps * Weight * Sets
It you want to grow muscle, you need to grow the Load you are putting on your muscles. It can be through any of the three variables.
3. High Reps or High Weight?
It’s not what you have been told.
Reps for Cut and Weight for Bulk - right? Wrong!
Heavy lifting is for strength. Lifting lesser than your max, for more Reps, is for size. So lift as heavy as you can (even women). Grow strength.
4. How Much Rest Between Sets?
Rest is to rest your heart. Not muscles. Muscles rest and grow at night, while you sleep. So between sets, rest enough to drop heart rate to 20% (basically, don’t have your heart in your mouth, but don’t be chilling either). Then get back to it.
5. What to Eat - Pre, During and Post Workout?
Before a workout you need Energy. During a workout, you need Hydration. After a workout, you need Repair. That’s Carbs, Water and Protein respectively. Eat foods that optimise these.
What is FITShots?
It’s a bi-monthly fitness column @FIT.
Every fortnight, we pick up one ’simple-sounding — yet-complex’ question about fitness and dive deep into it.
We start with my perspective on the issue and the personal experiences I’ve had while trying various approaches. Along the way, I shall provide links and references to the scientifically backed resources that I’m basing my point of view on.
The Deal: Read through my take on the topic → Find anything along the way that intrigues you → Follow the links and go as deep as the rabbit hole does.
All the years when I was struggling to get my fitness journey started, I hoped and wished for something like this. A one-stop solution that answered one-question at a time. I never got my wish, so now I’m doing it myself.
Come. Let’s separate what’s FIT, from what’s SH*T.
(Shashank Mehta started his fitness journey at over 100kgs, 15 years ago. In the decade that followed, he taught himself fitness, lost 40kgs, ran several marathons, and helped many friends and colleagues get onto the fitness bandwagon. An IIM graduate, he has self-experimented with every fitness-fad and quick-fix out there, and now writes a health blog that is read by thousands every week, and that’s made him a Top Writer in 'Food' & ‘Health’ on Medium.com.)