Having trained a lot of people brand new to strength training (and the gym itself) and been involved with their progress over a long period of time, there are really only two types of people I come across, regardless of background/age/sex/initial physical condition.
The first actively go out of their way to do MORE. Whether that’s wanting to add weight to all their programmed weights, wanting to do more total volume or just spending all their time in the gym, they’re champing at the bit to progress in something. Rather unsurprisingly, these people progress very quickly and if left to their own devices will become fairly decent lifters, although they will often overestimate their own abilities and tend to sacrifice quality of work for quantity. What sorts them from the following group is simple – whatever their reasons, they actively seek the ‘discomfort’ that comes with getting strong – hard reps, lots of DOMS, high volumes of work, etc.
The only real consideration I have with these people is holding them back enough to ensure they aren’t getting stronger faster than their technique can keep up, or overtraining (although with somebody new, this is VERY rare). If any clients come by and are in this group, I’m always excited to train them as this mindset of pushing themselves into uncomfortable territory is vital for becoming a great athlete.
The second type want to do LESS. Most of the time they would be content to do the absolute minimal amount of work possible. Funnily enough, these people progress very slowly, if at all, when left to their own devices. Their motivations for making these decisions is generally wanting to play it ‘safe’, and avoiding as much discomfort as possible.
My only consideration with training this group is pushing them to do more – one more rep, one more set, train extra days, etc. Most of the time they are already technically sound lifters, they just lack intrinsic inspiration to get after it. While I am less excited when I have new clients that fit into this category, most move towards the former group after a few months of training, or tend to drop off completely.
There is also the third kind of lifter, the ‘unicorn’. They have the discomfort-seeking mentality of the first type, but know when to pull it back. This is INCREDIBLY rare for somebody new to the gym, however knowing when to apply each groups mentality is one of the most vital skills to learn as a lifter in my opinion.
Which type are you?