After dealing with Lyme Disease for well over a year, going through two very intense treatments, I’m finally well enough to start working out again. Just a few days ago I ended my last antibiotic treatment and decided that I was going to commit myself entirely to the Body Beast program starting today. For those of you who don’t know, Body Beast is one hell of a mass gaining program. It’s intense as all get out, but it works. I chose this program because I’m ridiculously weak right now after not being able to work out for so long. I actually ended up losing about 15 lbs of muscle. No, not fat, pure muscle. I’m actually pretty lean at the moment because my nutrition was so spot on while going through treatment. Anyways, I just got done with my first workout a bit ago and I’m totally drained. While going through the workout I was quickly reminded of how tough it is to do an intense program after not working out for so long. I sucked, there is no doubt about it, but that’s OK. It’s expected.
Most people who come to me asking for help with getting into shape don’t realize just how tough it is to go from being being inactive to an intense workout program like Body Beast. For some crazy reason I think they believe it’s just going to be an easy process. Rude awakening people, it’s going to be anything but easy. I was reminded of that today. I felt like I did when I was going through my first P90X workout 8 years ago. This workout, Chest & Tris, beat the shit out of me. To start off, I was only able to bench press half the amount of weight I was a year ago. Then halfway through the workout my body pretty much decided to shut down on me. I could only do a few decline push-ups and then literally could not do any military push-ups, not even the modified ones, shortly after that. I tried as hard as I could, but there was no way in hell I was lifting myself off of the ground. Even though I struggled greatly, though, I never became frustrated. Being in that position before, I know it’s just part of the process. In a few weeks to a month I will be able to get through the workouts fairly easily again. Instead of getting frustrated when you start a workout for the first time, you have to accept that it’s going to be difficult at first. You might go through the same thing I did and just flat out not be able to do the exercises. Or maybe you are so out of breath that you can’t keep up with the pace of the trainers. Maybe you can’t lift nearly the amount of weight that everyone else in the videos are lifting. It’s OK! Just about everyone goes through it.
What I’m going to do now is give you some tips to help you out when you are starting a program for the first time and are struggling with the workouts and soreness.
(1) Do your best to keep up with the trainers, but don’t feel like you absolutely have to. Obviously there is a reason the trainers go at the pace they do during the workouts. There is a certain time frame between sets that’s optimal for results. Everything in the program, including the timing between sets, was created on purpose. However, if you just physically can’t keep up with them, hit pause. There is nothing wrong with pressing pause and giving yourself an extra minute or two to recover. Sometimes you need it.
(2) Modify wherever need be. Some of the moves done in the program are freakin’ crazy, especially if it’s something from Tony Horton. If you’re out of shape and haven’t worked out in a long time, attempting to do 4 ball medicine ball push-ups would be absolutely foolish. Instead, you want to do a modified version of the exercise, which is almost always shown by the trainers if it’s a Beachbody program. Don’t let your ego get in your way because that’s a good way to injure yourself. Rather, do the modified version until you can work your way up to the normal version. It will take some time to get there, but you will get there eventually if you stick with it long enough.
(3) Use the proper weights that fit you. If you’re doing Body Beast like I am, it wouldn’t be smart to try to lift the same amount Sagi is lifting in the DVD’s. He’s named the Beast for a reason! Pick a weight that allows you to hit the rep count for each individual exercise. Just remember, you don’t want to go too light or too heavy. You want to make sure you hit the rep count, but that last rep should be difficult to get. For example, if you’re doing an exercise with 15 reps, say dumbbell bench press, once you get to that 12 or 13 mark you should begin to struggle. Those last 2-3 reps are where the magic happens.
(4) Expect soreness. I know that tomorrow I’m going to wake up feeling sore as hell. I probably won’t be able to move my upper body and that’s OK. Again, it’s something that’s expected after not working out for months. Every time you lift weights you tear tiny muscle fibers, and those fibers have to heal in order for you to become stronger. Those tiny tears are why you wake up the morning after leg day and can’t get out of bed. They’re also why it hurts like hell to sit on the damn toilet or climb stairs. There are some things that you can do to reduce the soreness, though. For one, make sure you are taking the right supplements directly following your workout. You have about an hour time frame post-workout where you need proper supplements for optimal recovery. For this round of the Beast I’m taking the entire Performance Line. For post-workout specifically, I’m using the Recover supplement, glutamine, creatine monohydrate, and Shakeology. In addition, though, I’m drinking Hydrate combined with BCAA’s during the workout, which will help with recovery as well. And then right before bed I will take Recharge, another supplement that helps with the healing process while you sleep.
(5) You must force yourself outside your comfort zone. In order to succeed in anything, not just with changing your health, you have to be able to force yourself to push through the things that are uncomfortable to you. Once you start to push outside the comfort zone consistently, that’s when results will come. For example, a lot of people will give up on an exercise too early. Maybe they are doing bicep curls and get to the point where their mind is telling them to stop, so that’s what they do. Rather, when my mind tells me to stop, I try to do 2-4 more reps. The same happens with extreme cardio workouts as well, such as Insanity Max 30. When I’m doing a intense Max 30 workout, I always get to the point where I could easily just stop and take a break, but I don’t. I try to force myself to go just a little bit longer. My ability to push far outside my comfort zone on a daily basis is why I always have such great results with workout programs.
Now you have an expectation of what you’re going to go through when you first start a program and what you can do to overcome any obstacle that gets in your way. Struggling is normal. I’m struggling now, not to mention insanely sore, but again, I know it’s just a part of the process of getting to where I want to go. I’ve got some massive goals to achieve with this round of Body Beast and I’m not stopping until I hit them. I might have to start out slowly, pause my workouts, use lighter weights than what they’re using in the workouts, modify the moves some, but I know that it’s just temporary. Pretty soon I will be tearing up the workouts like I used to.
My name is Josh Spencer and I'm a husband, father, online fitness Coach (since 2008), soon to be author, and holistic healing advocate. Since 2008 I've helped thousands and thousands of people make a change in their health! I believe that in order to make incredible changes you have to have the right mindset, nutrition, and workout plan.