Joining the gym is a task in itself, but once you get there you then have the additional task of figuring out what to do. Many newbies put their fitness goals on hold out of sheer fear of hitting the gym. This could be due to a lot of reasons starting from the inadequate knowledge of gym equipment, low self-esteem or the fear of people watching. But when you drop a weight and can’t wait for the earth to swallow you whole out of sheer embarrassment, in most cases nobody even noticed. They are probably trying to figure out what exercise works best for them, and that’s precisely what you should be doing too.
Next time you are staring vacantly outside the gym, here’s an 8-point plan to put things in perspective:
Newbie or not, figure out how you want to spend your time at the gym. Make a chart of the exercises you are going to include in the day’s regime. If you are a morning-goer then keep your gym clothes and duffel ready, to make it easier for you to just pick it up and go. If you choose evenings to head to the gym, go there straight from work. Going home and getting changed will not only waste your time but it will also make you more prone to lazying around on the couch.
If you are someone that is on their phone 24 x 7, then get ready to be categorized amongst the most-annoying-people-at-the-gym. Your phone is your biggest distraction, especially when you need to be the most focused. Put it in airplane or silent mode when you get to the gym or once you start exercising. This will not only yield better results, it is also a great way to reconnect with yourself and concentrate on the muscles you are working and your breathing patterns.
Goals, Goals Goals!
The most important part, why are you working out? Do you want to build muscle or lose weight? Or maybe you don’t fall into any of these spectrums and are simply trying to stay fit. It helps in the long run when you have your goal figured out. Trying to achieve too many things at once can be difficult and the failures that come with it will steer you away from getting any results. If your main goal is to lose weight, but you also want to improve your running performance, choose the main goal and go for it. The smaller goals will take care of themselves along the way.
Don’t Forget To Warm-Up
Before starting your workout, it is imperative that you warm up properly. If you break into a sweat, then you are on the right track! Warm up is essential because starting off with cold muscles is a sure-shot recipe for injury. Do a quick jog or jump rope to activate your muscles. If cardio is not your cup of tea, then try out some stretching exercises to activate your muscles.
Time Your Workouts
One of the biggest lies that gym-goers often feed themselves is that ‘more time in there equals to better results’. No. Period. The first rule of hitting the gym, you need to limit your total workout time to one hour, tops. It’s okay if you run on the treadmill for a longer time than what was scheduled for, but if you are spending hours and hours at the gym then it’s definitely time to look for a new programme.
Wall Of Inspiration
What better way to get hit by inspiration than to learn from other people. There are a lot of fitness quotes, images, movies, poems, and literature out there, so much so that the amount of content can get a bit overwhelming. Stick to the few Instagram pages on your feed or be a part of a few online communities. Even simply observing people at the gym can keep you motivated and contemplate on how far you have to go. Oh yeah, and how can we forget music? We all know that music makes workouts so much better. Put simply, introducing tempo-pace synchronized music into an exercise program can result in significantly greater activity volume than is the case without music.
Know Your Muscles
Pick workouts that target your large muscle groups: glutes, quadriceps, back, chest and hamstrings, and then work your way towards the smaller muscle groups: shoulders, triceps, biceps and calves. By prioritizing the bigger muscle groups, you can capitalize on your gym time with a bigger range of movements. This means more squats, deadlifts, military presses and rows. Also, don’t forget to mix up your workouts to keep it interesting. Alternate your workout days through each week to keep your body guessing and to stop you from going through the same grind.
Keep Track of Your Results
If you are stepping into the gym for the first time or your are resuming working out after a hiatus, then keeping a gym diary will help you stay focused. Write down which exercises work for you and which don’t, amongst other details like the number of reps, the weights, etc. In this manner, you will have a clear idea of how to go about your exercises and which routines to incorporate. This will also improve your strength and keep track of the improvements you are making weekly. Measuring your body is also a great way to track your progress but this may not give you day-to-day results. Re-measure every four weeks to give your body a chance to change and show you how far you have actually come.