Heading to the gym for your first time whether you’re young or old can be intimidating, there’s no doubt about it being part of a beginners workout.
Some gyms are more welcoming than others to newcomers, and the meatheads can be a bit much in some locations. So first, choosing the right gym can make a major difference. If you’re new to the exercise world, you’ll want to choose a gym with a broad selection of workout areas including universal machines, free weights, aerobic and cardio machines, and an open area for floor and bodyweight exercises. Also, most gyms offer a free session to try out the location; don’t be afraid to try a few out before committing.
You’ll also want to equip yourself with some knowledge before you hit the training floor. Being prepared for your first workout (or any subsequent training thereafter) will save you tons of time and get you on the road to maximizing your time in the gym.
Let’s start by going over a few essentials that you should bring with you every time you work out.
How To work Out At The Gym And Use a Notepad or Journal:
o Planning: You should arrive at the gym with a succinct plan of what you’re going to do that day. Don’t get there and roam around like a lost puppy. Get in, get it done and get out.
o Tracking your workouts will take very little extra time and can do a great deal to keep you aware of your progress. This also allows you to jump right in where you left off the previous time you trained a particular muscle group.
Exercise Plan For Beginners And Why Bring A Hand Towel:
o Pro-tip: Unfortunately, many people who use the gym, even those experienced athletes who should know better, don’t wipe down their equipment after completing an exercise. Bring your own towel to avoid being this guy and in case you need to clean off a machine before your own set.
Invest in a Foam Roller:
o Own Your Own: Whether you’re starting out or have been working out for years, it’s critical to manage your recovery actively. Using a foam roller before and after workouts to knead out lactic acid from your muscles and loosen up. If you don’t want to bring your own to the gym, be sure to keep it close at hand at home and roll out before you leave and before bed.
Bring a Water Bottle:
o It’s not enough to grab a splash of water at the fountain between lifts. Buy yourself a big water bottle and bring it. This might seem like simple advice, but just get it in your head. Bring your own. You don’t want to buy a bottle at the front desk every time you work out. That’s just wasteful.
Getting Down to It. Ok, so you’ve chosen a gym, you’ve got your essentials and you’re ready to train. Well, almost. Where do you start? First, before any kind of work out a thorough warm up is necessary at every experience level. Next, if you’re new to working out you’ll want to focus on getting your core muscles caught up to speed.
Warm-up: Your warm-up should consist of light movement, stretching and some cardio to get your blood pumping. Keep in mind that you should never stretch a cold muscle, so it’s important to get your body moving before you start stretching into the outer limits of your mobility range. Spend 15 minutes on a stationary bike or treadmill, then 5-10 more stretching. Dynamic warm-ups combine high knees, lunges, bear crawls, squat jumps and other body weight only exercises. This can be a great way to get your circulation up.
A Note on Form: Even many experienced athletes make the mistake of focusing too much on throwing heavyweight around and lose focus on completing each repetition with proper form. If you’re interested in being able to exercise in the future, don’t be dumb. Never, ever sacrifice form to complete a rep. This will minimize your risk of injury and in the long run you will always hit a ceiling on how strong you can train a particular lift, if you aren’t doing it the right way. What this means will vary from lift to lift, but generally speaking will consist of keep your back tall and your chest out, don’t curl your spine and keep your feet shoulder width apart, toes slightly out.
The Core of the Issue: The biggest muscles in your body are your core and legs. By developing a strong core, you increase your body’s overall ability to perform any movement that requires strength and balance. Training your core will provide stability to all other exercises that you complete in the gym.
The Lifts: Many of the following lifts are listed with the progression that you can follow as you grow more comfortable with machines and free weight versions of these exercises. The idea is to work towards the free weight version, and if you feel ready, and can comfortably move your body weight with proper form in these moves, then by all means get after it, but be smart, stay within safe boundaries.
Leg Press / Back Squat: Squatting, even if done with only your body weight to start out, works over 80% of the muscles in your entire body and does wonders to improve body composition. There are a number of machines available to minimize risk with this movement, and power racks that will allow you more motion with safety measures still in place.
Pushup / Bench Press / Dumbbell Press: Of course, you don’t need a gym to do a push up, but you should be comfortable with this move before moving onto a barbell press and later to dumbbell presses, which will work more of your stabilizer muscles. Part of the important of training your core is that these stabilizer muscles will be built from the inside out, helping you to control more weight.
Seated Back Machine / Deadlift: The deadlift must be respected and approached with patience. Don’t jump into this one thinking you’re going to throw around a ton of weight. Start with the machine version of this exercise and get comfortable. When you’re ready, move to the deadlift with the bar, by itself. Work on your grip and find out what works for you; some people choose a cross grip. Form is absolutely critical to the deadlift, but done right, this will work your hamstrings, back and core.
Lat Pull Down / Pull-up: One of the original measures of human strength, used for generations, is the pull-up. Universal machines available at the gym can help you work up to your first pull-up, or help you add reps to your max. This is an excellent exercise for developing upper body strength and it will definitely give you the ripped look.
Sit-ups / Weighted Crunch Machine / Leg ups: Working your core also means the front.
Aesthetics. When you’re new to training, it’s important to get your major muscle groups caught up to speed first, so your workout should really focus on this. On the tail end of that, when you’ve put in the time there, spend some time on muscle groups that you want to work on esthetically. However, get the big lifts in first. Don’t be that guy with huge biceps and tiny calves because you didn’t want to workout the right way and only cared about appearance.
It can be intimidating getting into the gym for the first time. The best way to overcome this is to show up prepared, motivated and armed with the knowledge you need to get on your way to reaching your health and fitness goals. Start light, focus on your form, and get your core in gear to empower all your future training.
P.S Remember to bookmark your best workout routine for beginners
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