Niagara Gazette

December 9, 2012

FIT FOR LIFE: Six things I wish I knew starting out

Chris Tybor
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — We all make mistakes when it comes to working out, myself included, but if I can spare you from making any — hopefully, all — of these common “beginner” mistakes, then this article will be a success.

1. Train in all repetition ranges. Do some of your work in the 4-6 range, 6-10 and 12-15 rep range. Progressive overload can be made in all of those rep ranges while keeping your joints, body and mind sane from always doing the same rep range. However, avoid doing 50-100+ crunches “because it burns.” Put your hand on a hot stove and save yourself three minutes, you’ll still get “the burn!”

2. Take care of an injury at its onset. Avoiding the warning signs of tendonitis or any other injury because you are afraid of missing time, although its admirable, isn’t the smartest thing to do. Address the issue as soon as possible BEFORE it becomes chronic and you miss some REAL gym time. 

Take preventive measures and get adjusted by a chiropractor, or use a foam roll (covered in previous articles) and work on your mobility and flexibility. These are typically not fun and sexy or rewarding as running the gorge, deadlifting or flipping tires, but just as important!

3. Work on increasing your strength by doing the following:

• Horizontal Pressing (a pressing movement while you are laying down) - Common movement examples are the bench press or seated chest press.

• Rowing - Either doing a bent over row (pulling the weight to your midsection), or a seated back row machine.

• Vertical Pressing - A pressing movement overhead using dumbbells, medicine balls, barbells, etc.

• Vertical Pulling - Pull-ups, assisted pullups or pulldownsuntil adequate strength is built

• Hip Extension - BB squats, deadlifts, etc.

If you make progress on these major-multi joint compound movements, you will experience a carry-over effect to the smaller muscle groups.

Remember that you do NOT have an unlimited ability to recover. This is why I advise you to focus on the big muscle groups (legs/back/chest). This will give you the most bang for your exercise time.

4. Use a variety of programs and techniques. The body adapts fairly quickly to stimulus. Switch up the rep ranges (see #1), use full body workouts, train your upper body one day and lower the next, train using vertical pulling/pushing days, etc.

5. Do not have “Training ADHD”

Like stated in previous articles, give the program time. Stay on a routine anywhere form 4 to 12+ weeks. This will allow you to figure out what works for you and what does not. Individuals have different muscle fiber make up, different recuperative abilities and different life stressors. Experiment with what frequency and volume work for you. Remember that these outside stimuli are dynamic and not static. This means that you might enjoy and get great results from training five days per week, but if you experience a major life obstacle and can only train twice a week for the next 8-10 weeks, it might be a good idea to switch to full body workouts versus skipping the gym altogether. As with nutrition, avoid the all or nothing principle.

6. Have Fun Training. This is most often overlooked, but in my opinion the most critical. The “best program’” is the one you’ll actually do. Embrace the hard work, the good gym days, the “bad” gym days (where everything feels heavy, creaky, and sore!), the new personal records you hit, the friendships you make, the GRIND. Remember that if you wake up on the right side of the dirt, it’s a good day!

Christopher R. Tybor is owner of ChrisFit Personal Training. He can be reached at