Hey, Rookie

There are a lot of things that frustrate me about working in the fitness industry. One of those things is young men who, getting into the gym or serious lifting for the first time, refuse to take my advice. There are a few different reasons for this; one of them often being that I’m a woman. Frustrating, yes, but I’m not here to talk about gender bias.
More frustrating are the rookie lifters who refuse to take my advice because they’ve read some stuff on the internet, and now think they’re as qualified as a personal trainer.

There are a few kids like this at my gym. They continually, after seeking my advice, ignore it and work outside the parameters I’ve set for their training. It can take months to get it through a man’s head that warming up is not optional, that “progressive overload” is NOT the only training principle that matters, and that they need to first build a strong base of core strength, body awareness, and mobility before going gung-ho on the back squats.

So, I decided to do some deadlifts last week.
To set the scene; I have a neuromuscular condition that has progressively destroyed my grip strength, making it very difficult for me to lift (and annoyingly has eaten away two and half kilos of hard-earned muscle mass). So before last week, I hadn’t done a proper resistance session in over 6 months – and hadn’t done deadlifts for over 8. With this in mind, I’m proud to say I deadlifted (an otherwise unimpressive) 70kg; 10 kilos more than my body weight.

These guys coming into the gym, wanting to lift seriously but refusing to listen to advice, can barely even achieve a neutral spine when lifting 50kg. They think they’re invincible and don’t need the (free) help of their trainers. Yet they take much longer to reach their goal, and will usually injure themselves (losing momentum and gains) and find it extremely hard to get back into it.
I was out for 6 months and haven’t deadlifted for 8 months, and in my first session, all things considered, I did pretty darn good.
And I could, because I take the time – the frustrating, boring time – to learn how to move, and to contract and brace the right muscles. I can do it because I know what I’m on about; and if your trainer is worth their salt, they do too.

Boys, listen to your trainer. Yes, do your own research. One of the best clients I had looked at different exercise theories and brought them up with me. Some we employed, some I warned him away from, and some I had to actually research myself! But without fail, he listened to my judgement, and he got the results.

If you want to lift heavy, find an exercise professional with knowledge, experience, and integrity. If they do their job properly, there will come a day when you no longer need to come under their wing; but until you’ve been exercising seriously and consistently for three years, you are a rookie, and you need to listen to the authorities.


The belt looks weird because we didn’t have one small enough for me, so my colleague had to stuff his boxing wrist straps in the back. It worked well enough, but I can’t say it was comfortable!

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