Deciding to sign up for a gym membership is a significant step on the journey to better health. Yet like all first times, walking into the gym and looking around can be overwhelming, especially without guidance. There are just so many ways to start, so many kinds of equipment one can use and familiarize themselves with. Without the assistance of a coach/trainer, this can result in a lot of wasted time and effort.
Ideally, getting a fitness coach is the best way to start, but everyone knows that it can be expensive. If hiring a trainer isn’t possible, then the first step is to determine one’s fitness goal. Usually, there are three reasons a newbie is joining a gym: to lose weight, to get toned or gain muscle, or to improve overall health.
Everybody at one point has been a newbie, and that is normal. The important thing is to ease into the gym habit, by starting with a basic workout plan before diving into exercises for more specific goals.
With that said, here is a list of things to do and not do at the gym to guide newbies into a smooth-sailing workout session and, ultimately, results.
● Plan Workouts
Don’t waste time roaming around, staring creepily at other gym goers. Start working out with this basic plan that targets the whole body.
– Cardio: treadmill, elliptical, or bike. Aim to elevate the heart rate for 20 to 25 minutes. Start at a slow pace, then make adjustments as preferred.
– Strength training: focus on a different muscle group, each day of the week—chest, back, shoulder, leg, arms, and core.
– Alternative: 30-minute circuit—work multiple muscle groups in one workout.
Doing this prevents muscle tightness and improves flexibility. Stretching is the best way to avoid injuries. Use a proper stretching routine, not like the one you performed in gym class back in high school.
● Observe Proper Gym Etiquette
Just have common courtesy. Be aware of the time limit for each machine, and if there’s none, don’t hog the equipment. Wipe the machines after use; no one likes to sit on someone else’s sweat. After use, make sure to return all equipment (weights, dumbbells, and the like) to where they belong.
● Stay Hydrated
Take sips in between workouts. Rehydrating will help in preventing cramps and headaches. You’re not limited to water. There are other choices to refuel, like isotonic drinks and vitamin water.
● Cool Down and Recover
If there’s a warm-up, then there’s also a cool-down process. For recovery, eat protein, and carbs. Milk is also great. Forty-five minutes after working out is the ideal time gap.
● Attend to Injuries
Common injuries like strains and muscle pain are likely to happen to anyone. It’s essential to listen to one’s body. Attend to injuries with rest and proper treatment. Invest in elastic muscle tapes, which are designed to help you get through the workout.
● Skip Warm-ups
Not hitting the treadmill and doing calisthenics is just asking for future injuries. One may feel like Superman and jump straight to lifting weights, but that means messing up the body in the long run. Warm-ups or stretches will avoid damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
● Train Only One Muscle Group
There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to look like John Cena. It becomes a bad thing only when workouts focus on the most noticeable muscle groups, like the guns and the chest. Having this kind of mentality most likely will result in “skipped leg day” memes.
Insecurity and the desire to achieve results overnight often lead you to jump straight to lifting weights beyond your capacity and working out every day in the first few weeks. Instead of easing your way into the routine, you copy your bodybuilding idols’ Greek-god workout, not wanting to appear like a wimp and be laughed at. This will result in two things: burnout or, worse, injury.
Three to four days a week is enough of a good start, with strength training every other day or two to three days per week.
With progress, one must remember three things to make the experience worthwhile and achieve the desired results—a tailored program, the right technique/posture, and diet.
Enjoy the process and the payoff of having a healthy body. Follow this guide to make every gym session a great experience. Conquer the gym, celebrate the milestones, and share progress with the people who matter.