So, you are starting in the gym? Congratulations! You have set yourself apart from the crowd by taking a big step to changing your life. Not many people have the courage to do what you have done so you are very special.
By exercising regularly, you can expect to feel more energised, increase your strength, improve your mood, sleep better, and when combined with the right diet you can change your body composition too.
As with any new venture it is important to be well prepared. Understanding some important points is the key to being safe during your workout and just as importantly, enjoying your workout. Below I will outline some simple steps to help you when you first start.
Warm-up before each session – Stretch once you have finished.
It is very important that you warm-up appropriately to suit the workout that you are doing. Even if you are doing some running on the treadmill you should be making sure your joints are warm to prevent any slips, trips or nasty injury. Stretching at the end of a workout aids in your recovery.
The amount of people I see without a water bottle in the gym is quite alarming. Yes, the gym provides a bubbler but you likely need more water than you realise. The body can lose several kilograms of fluid via sweat during a medium intensity workout and dehydration can lead to all sorts of nasty problems. Headache, fatigue, and dizziness are all serious signs of dehydration. Sip water throughout your workout.
Take the exercise slowly.
Exercise is great for your body and results will come with continued commitment to your goals. When starting a new workout plan it is important that you underestimate your capability. Leave your ego at the door. You can seriously injure yourself and you won’t be continuing your journey while you heal.
Consider dropping the weight back to a weight where you can do 12-15 repetitions for a couple of sets with no difficulty. Do no more than 3-4 exercises per session to start with and do not do the same exercise more than twice a week. As a beginner, it is important to allow your body 2-3 days’ rest between any weight training sessions so your body can repair.
If you are looking to do group fitness classes you should talk to the team beforehand and get to know the instructor who will advise you on the best approach. Always be confident in telling the instructor your limitations so you can safely build up your capacity.
Set yourself a goal.
To be successful you need to have a clear goal. The most successful people in the world will tell you that they are successful because they had clearly defined goals. Once you know what you want to achieve, set yourself a plan.
Know what food you are eating.
Are you eating junk-food? Do you drink flavoured drinks instead of water? Many of those processed foods contain lots of unnecessary nasties, not to mention unnecessary calories.
If you are after fat loss then you need to know that additional calories are going to stop you from losing fat. If you are trying to build muscle then you need to have enough calories from good, clean food. Eating plenty of vegetables will help you get enough vitamins and minerals to help your body repair, regardless of your fitness goals.
One way that I have found which is handy to check-in to see how balanced your diet is, is The Australian Healthy Eating Quiz. You get a great overview of your current dietary choices which will enable you to begin making the small changes that are necessary as part of your fitness journey.
Make sure you are supported!
You are more likely to succeed in your goals if you have the right support. Tell a trusted friend or family member what your goals are. Invest in a personal trainer to help you with all the above as well as designing a personalised exercise to suit your needs. They will also provide you with the continued support to help you reach your goals!