Beginner’s Guide Part 3: Understanding Individual Strength Differences

 

By Elliott Speed

A gym can be a very daunting place. There are many people that are intimidated by the thought of the gym. Even I, like most others, have been in this position.

The notion of not knowing what exercises to do and how to do them, especially with the new state-of-the-art equipment is enough to prevent people from entering a gym.

Once in a gym it is very difficult to keep your eyes off those around you, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others which can very often hinder your results. This also applies to social media.

Today social media is the most popular form of contact for the majority of people. It is also one of the main sources for people to educate themselves and give an insight into their lives.

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In the fitness industry social media is the main source of advertisement for both athletes and companies. This has a very detrimental effect on those looking to start their fitness journey as most of the well known fitness athletes are in incredible shape. This makes many people feel self conscious.

Apart from body shape, strength is one of the main things people compare in a gym. Looking around to see how much others are lifting and comparing that to our own strength abilities is a common thought process and this can make us feel weak and unfit.

Yet, it is important to keep in mind that strength is very dependent on your goals. If you want to be a powerlifter then yes, strength is an important factor for you. But if your goals are building muscle or toning then strength is not so vital.

In the beginning, it is important to teach your body how to contract a muscle throughout each repetition on every exercise. Lifting the weight through a controlled movement for a full range of motion is much more beneficial than picking a weight above your ability and throwing it around with improper form. This is also a good way to injure yourself.

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But there are more reasons why  you should not to compare yourself to others in the gym:

1. The people you are comparing yourself with are usually complete strangers, meaning you do not know their background. These people may have an extensive sporting background, which has allowed them to become stronger and more coordinated over a  period of time.

2. It is impossible to know how they train. They may not have a 9-5 job or a family and kids, meaning they may train numerous times throughout the day.

3. They may have a fitness coach. Training and diet programmes are extremely important for achieving results, meaning a person will progressively become stronger over long periods of time – after all consistency is key!

4. People progress at different rates. Everyone is unique – each individual has their strengths and weaknesses.

In my opinion it is important to acknowledge this last point and the need to work at improving your weaknesses. Many people also fall into the trap of training the body parts they are strongest in and those parts where they have previously got the fastest results from training.

Don’t let it discourage you if you see someone doing your heaviest squat for several reps – it takes time and you must be patient. Work hard at turning your weaknesses into strengths and one day your heaviest weight now will be your warm up!

Do not always compare yourself to others. When it comes to training you must be extremely focused on yourself. Only concentrate on your improvements and never feel inadequate training next to someone else.

Your fitness journey is extremely personal and everyone at one time or another was at the beginning of their journey, exactly the same as you. It is true that some have a natural ability to improve and become stronger at a faster rate, however nothing beats hard work and in time you will become stronger.

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