Strength training at the gym: tips from Jiu-Jitsu fighter, Sergio de Lima

You’ve decided to join a gym, but don’t know where to start. We’ve collected the most relevant questions about strength trainings and asked Sergio de Lima, an athlete who holds a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, former Team LEAD, Cobrinha – Alliance Jiu Jitsu in Los Angeles, numerous state and regional championships, NAGA World Championships in Dallas, Texas, podiums for the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Federation and IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) to answer them.

Where to start for those who have never been to a gym, but have decided to start exercising?

First, you need to decide what your goals and objectives are: to lose weight, gain muscle mass and so on. How do you plan to exercise with a trainer or on your own.

You can achieve faster results with a trainer, of course. A trainer monitors your progress, your weight and your physical form. It is not always possible to measure your progress by weight, so you should also look at your reflection in the mirror. Keep a record of changes and then adjust your training programme and nutrition based on the results.

How many training sessions should there be per week?

For everyone, regardless of gender or age – no more than three times per week. If a person is overweight, it is better to do two workouts a week, e.g. two circuit training sessions. But here you have to look not only at weight, but also at injuries, illnesses, etc.

What is the optimum length of training class and why?

The duration of the workout depends on your goals and objectives. The strength training session itself with dumbbells, bars or gym equipment, excluding warm-up and hicc-up, lasts no longer than 45-60 minutes.

The point is that glycogen from the muscles is used up during the first 20 minutes of exercise, glycogen from the liver during the second 20-25 minutes, and then the body starts to use the fat layer under the skin and on internal organs as fuel. I am talking about approximate figures, they depend on the person: their age, metabolism and other parameters.

If the goal is to lose weight, at the end of your workout you should allocate 20 minutes for cardio exercise: ellipsoid, running track, bicycle. The fat will be burned intensively rightafter 50 minutes of strength training. If you are building muscle mass, you do cardio for literally 5-10 minutes just to get back into your body’s normal routine.

What can I eat before and how much before my workout? What to eat afterwards?

Nutrition before and after training is also individual and depends on your goals. General rules: 1.5-2 hours before training you should eat a meal with complex carbohydrates: rice, buckwheat, durum wheat pasta, potatoes for weight gainers; and proteins: meat, eggs, cottage cheese. Approximately the same set of products is suitable for a post-workout snack. In addition, you should not forget about fiber – vegetables in raw, stewed, baked form, they help the stomach and intestines to process food.

Can training at home be as effective as training at the gym?

I find training at the gym more effective. First of all, there is equipment that allows you to work out all muscle groups. Some exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc., can be done at home if you know the right technique. But some exercises just can’t be done at home.

Besides, at the gym you can also ask a trainer for help, who will show you the correct technique for the exercises. In addition, many people lack motivation when exercising at home; at the gym, they train with more enthusiasm.

How long does it take to see the first results?

The results in the form of good physical condition appear from the first weeks. You feel energized, cheerful and confident. The visual changes depend on your goals and how well you follow your diet and training plan. Usually, the result is already visible in the first few months. Especially if you are losing weight – you can clearly see your progress on the scale.

What do you do when you seem to be exercising, but see no results?

If you don’t see results after a month or two, something is wrong. For example, if you lose weight and after a month you weigh yourself and the weight has not gone off. Then you have to conclude that your nutrition plan is not correct, or that your training process is not suitable for you.

Usually, even if you only have a correct diet plan, you will still get results in the form of weight loss. If you don’t get results, it’s time to find out what the reason is: find a trainer, if you are doing it yourself, or talk to your trainer about it.

Are strength trainings useful at any age? Can I start after the age of 30-40?

Strength training is good for all ages. You can start even after 40 as long as there are no obvious contraindications from your doctor. By the way, if your doctor at the outpatient clinic advises you not to exercise, I recommend getting a second opinion and being examined by a sports doctor. An ordinary general practitioner may overreact, and this is the wrong approach, as with many diagnoses it is allowed to exercise. But you have toexercise properly, intelligently, so as not to harm yourself but, on the contrary, to improve the condition of your body.

When is it absolutely necessary to consult a doctor before training?

When a person has health complaints, or has pain in the joints, back or internal organs. A doctor’s consultation is also needed for chronic illnesses; it is worth finding out how much you can exercise your body if you have an illness. Experienced instructors are also aware of this, and if a trainer sees that a person has clear contraindications to training, they will definitely send them to a doctor.