Whether you need a beginner workout routine or your first time back in the gym after a long hiatus, there are a few points to remember that can help prepare your body for a fitness routine.
The main thing I recommend is focusing on your core to build a foundation of strength and keeping a close eye on your recovery and rest to minimize.
Your First Gym Workout Reminders
Warm up & Stretch
You might be asking why you should warm up before your workout but there are tons of good reasons why.You should be warming up and stretching before your workouts no matter what level of fitness you’re at. This is just part of the deal. If you want to work your body in a healthy, productive way, it’s important to warm up all of your major muscle groups. I suggest a light jog, followed by burpees, jumping jacks and/or jump rope.
These will all get your heart pumping before a workout and warm up your muscles. The two key factors of an effective warm up are loosening up your muscles and getting your blood pumping. If you’re new to working out and experiencing some of the soreness that is natural to come with a new routine, I suggest hopping on the foam roller to knead out some of that soreness
Focus on Your Core
One of the most important things I would suggest for your first time in the gym is focusing on your core and major muscle groups. A strong core increases your strength in most other areas and is crucial to a healthy body. Some of the best core exercises I can recommend are a combination of weighted lifts, static floor exercises and dynamic movements. Focusing on your core will provide you with a solid foundation for your future workouts.
The plank works your entire core as well as upper and lower body muscles. Lying on your stomach, keep your core in a straight line and push your body weight up onto your forearms, creating a 90-degree angle between your forearm and upper arm. Keep your head up and continue breathing. Hold this position until failure or try for a minute long hold.
This is another one where you’ll start on your stomach. This time, just as the name depicts, you want to stretch your arms and legs out like you were flying. Perform these by trying to hold the position for a pause and release. Superman’s will work your lower back and core.
Whether you’re ready to use weight and perform a back squat, or you’re just starting out and you’re performing this strictly with your body weight, squats work 80% of your body’s muscles and activate your core, back and legs. Beginning with your feet just outside shoulder width and your toes pointed slightly out, focus on squeezing your core as you sink down into your squat—eyes up. During your warm up, body weight squats are a great start to your workout but with weight, these are a pivotal dynamic movement for every fitness level.
Be sure to check out do squats work for more information.
Plyometrics add a dynamic element to any workout, especially as a follow-up to weighted exercise. My favorite ploys to add to a workout are box jumps. Think about the squat movement that you’ve been practicing, but now you’ll be performing this in a more athletic scenario. Approach the box and check your distance, you should be able to reach out and touch the box so that you can jump up and land squarely on top of it. When you land on top, stand completely upright as with your squat before hopping down to repeat.
Body Weight Exercises
Another thing that’s great for getting back into the gym or just starting out is body weight movement. As I’ve said before, never underestimate the power of pushups. However, pull ups, chin ups, dips, body weight squats and sit-ups are never to be overlooked at any fitness level. Especially when you are building a foundation of strength, these moves will prove extremely useful. If you can’t complete a whole pull up or chin up yet, performing a static hold where you start at the top of the pull up and slowly lower yourself, you will build the strength needed to complete one of these repetitions. This can also be done with a weight vest to create added stress on the muscles for growth.
Cool Down & Stretch Again
When you finish up, it’s important to cool down and stretch again. I highly suggest purchasing a foam roller if you don’t already have one. They’re inexpensive and a great way to work the lactic acid out of your muscles before and after a workout. I can’t stress enough how much stretching can do to alleviate some of the soreness that inevitably comes with getting into shape. If you can tag a yoga class onto the end of your workout or into your week, this could prove highly beneficial in keeping you limber and in the fight to get your body and fitness level on point.
Diet, Rest & Rehydrate
Keep in mind that you should expect some soreness after your first workouts in the gym. This is natural.
However, what you eat and how you treat your body after every workout, but specifically these first few workouts will play a critical role in how quickly you recover and how much you gain in terms of strength and muscle development from your workouts. And make sure to consider the signs of dehydration.
So what does that include?
Let’s go over some key points. First and foremost: sleep. Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. When I say 8 hours, I mean it. This is one of the most looked over things in fitness. I can’t tell you how many fit, active people I know could be achieving greater results if they took their recovery more seriously. Your body and mind need sleep to recover. I can promise you that you’ll experience far less soreness if you take your sleep seriously.
As far as diet goes, when you shock your muscles you are having some inflammatory effect on your body, while this is healthy, adding fish oil to your diet will do a great deal to reduce this inflammation. As goes with workouts at any experience level, you should be eating a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fat after your workouts. If you are new to working out, one thing to pay special mind to as your body adjusts to physical activity is that you will need to drink more water than you are used to.
When you’re new to the gym or just getting back in, think big. Focus on the major muscle groups like your core and legs that you’ll need to get adjusted to a fitness routine. Big body movement and dynamic exercises that work multiple muscle groups are key. However, just as important to your progress is your prioritizing rest and stretching as you acclimate your body to rigorous exercise.
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