Exercise for beginners:
In a new YouTube video, Australian personal trainer Eugene Teo shared the two biggest mistakes he made when he first started training that he says would have saved him “a lot of unnecessary joint pain and strain, confusion around my nutrition, and given me a lot more progress in and out of the gym.” Here’s what Teo singled out:
Mistake #1: Barbells are an incredibly convenient exercise tool, but they’re usually not the best option.
“If there’s one thing that I wish I could do differently through my early years of training,” Teo says, “it’s relying so heavily on straight barbell movements.”
Teo added that, at the time, he was working with bodybuilders, trainers and coaches who loved barbells, and his lack of knowledge led him to not question their training methods.
“I could’ve save my elbows, my wrists, and my shoulders from a lot of unnecessary wear and strain, and gotten even more out of my training at the time,” he said. “If there is a better option that will provide just as much, if not more, target stimulation to the muscles with less joint wear, then wouldn’t you want to use that?”
His point: The barbell may not be an efficient choice, especially when it comes to your joints. “They force you to move in this fixed plane of motion, which isn’t about being more or less ‘functional’, but it’s more about the that you will expose your joints to a lot more shearing forces that could have easily been avoided by opting for a dumbbell, cable, or even a machine-based variation instead.”
Teo is careful to point out that he still uses barbells, but only for deadlifts, where his upper extremities aren’t involved in the motion.
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Mistake #2: Meal plans suck.
“Every body building coach that I had used to give me meal plans. The meal plan would be eggs and oatmeal for meal one, and meal 2 through 5 would be chicken, sweet potatoes and broccoli, and meal 5 would maybe be beef or slam on for extra fats,” he says.
Teo says he would follow the plans diligently, but would rely on the coach providing the meal plan to tell him everything he should do. “The issue with meal plans is that they don’t really teach you anything,” he says. “They’re used as a way to hide behind the smoke and mirrors of secrecy as if there’s something so special about the specific foods or combinations and details in the meal plan, instead of teaching you how to take care of yourself.”
Instead of blindly following along, he encourages beginners to learn about nutrition (calories and macros) and think of it like you do finances: “Going overboard in your food spend is similar to going overboard in your expenses. You might be able to get away with a couple cheeky transitions here and there, but it’s probably going to come back and bite you in the ass soon enough.”
From there, he believes that with enough knowledge, you can create your own nutrition plan. “If you give yourself the freedom to choose whatever you want, then you’ll soon find what works and what doesn’t work for you,” he says. “Unfortunately, we’re so confused by the appeal of these custom diet plans and meal plans, thinking it’s the latest Hollywood secret protocol to getting results. The industry is designed to leave you confused.”
So what’s the better alternative? “It’s to take ownership of your health and nutrition and to learn how to work with macro nutrients and calories. A good coach should give these to you and help guide you to make better decisions around fitting in different foods and structure around your macro nutrients, but they shouldn’t be giving you blanketed, rigid meal plans with no context whatsoever.”
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Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness.
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