If you’re like most people, then you understand the need to keep yourself healthy.
The only problem is that for many of us staying in shape, eating right, and remaining vigilant in our day to day workouts is more difficult than we originally anticipate.
New Year’s resolutions fade with the passing of time and the constant hustle and press of life makes us forget a workout here or there or can even allow us to lose our motivation for getting to the gym when we really want to.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to join a gym to work out, but if you’re seeking help to stay motivated and to discover new exercises and routines that could help you lose extra weight or develop a routine that can keep you moving, a well-structured gym workout coupled with a dietary plan that’s not too restrictive can help.
It’s hard to get started, but through firm dedication to yourself and your health you can find a way to make a well-designed workout routine produce the kind of results you desire.
With that being said let’s get into just what it will take to plan a workout that can be useful for you.
This should be common sense for many people but if you’re just starting out then you’re going to want to be a bit selective since there are many different gyms out there and some of them aren’t exactly built to cater to beginners.
What this means is that you’ll want to find a gym that will walk you through the process and will feature several different ways in which you can create a workout program that will suit you and your lifestyle.
For instance, as a beginner you most likely don’t want to join a gym that’s going to be too advanced.
When selecting a gym take note of three core elements that will help you out:
Location-You want to find a gym that is somewhat close to home, perhaps no more than 20 to 30 minutes away, as this is a decent amount of time to travel. If you don’t drive, make sure you find a bus route that can get you to and from the gym without fail.
Or even better, find one that’s close enough to ride your bike, walk, or jog to as this is a great way to get warmed up so that by the time you reach your gym, you’re ready to go.
Location is a big factor in keeping up your motivation. If the gym is right next door you might find that you’ll take it for granted and adopt a “I can do work out anytime” attitude that isn’t particularly helpful.
If it’s too far away however, you might lose motivation since the trip there and the trip home simply takes too long.
Cost-It’s not necessary to break the bank, as the saying goes, to get in shape. You should be able to find a gym, hopefully, that’s nearby and doesn’t cost a bundle to join.
Some gyms will even give you a trial run at a reduced cost so that you can see if it really works for you.
In this case it might still be too expensive but at a reduced cost you can at least gain a basic understanding of what you’ll need to get started and benefit from the time spent in the gym.
What are you looking for? -In other words, what kind of workout do you feel that you need? This is an important question that you need to ask yourself since otherwise the moment you step into a gym, any gym, you’ll be doing nothing more than spinning your wheels and wondering just which machine to go to next or what exercise feels like it would be right for what you want to do.
Is your goal to get stronger? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to increase your endurance? These questions and many more are very important when it comes to deciding just which gym you should join and what your goal is for signing up.
The main point of joining is that you want an experience that you can’t get from home. A lot of people join up and why many seek out the help of professional trainers.
Your Fitness Goals
So, you’ve selected your gym and have joined up, congratulations! That’s just the first step towards doing what you can to attain your fitness goals, as simply walking into the gym is sometimes the hardest part for anyone.
One word of advice: don’t be intimidated and don’t worry about those around you or what they’ll think once you get started.
People come to the gym to work out and improve their health. There’s always a time to be social but do remember that a gym is supposed to be a no-judgment zone where everyone can feel secure about themselves.
You’re a beginner and that’s just fine, so was everyone else at one point or another. In other words, relax and just take it slow.
Right away it should be evident that you won’t be taking on the hardest workouts and your results aren’t going to be immediate.
Once you find a gym and manage to join it might be their policy to determine your level of fitness and how hard you should be pushing yourself.
No gym wants their members hurting themselves because of any lack of instruction on their part. It’s bad for business and the safety of their members is a key component to keeping said members happy and satisfied.
The trainers and/or staff can introduce you to the various ways that you can accomplish your goals and will, if requested, do a fitness evaluation of a new member in order to help them fashion a workout that will cater to their needs.
Some people just joining a gym might have been athletes or fitness buffs in the past and simply fell out of practice.
These individuals often see the need to get back into the swing of things and might have the experience to get started on their own by using methods that worked for them in the past.
But true beginners that have had little to no experience in the gym will want to pay close attention to the staff and/or trainers that are there to help.
It may even be wise to schedule an appointment with a personal trainer now and again, if your finances allow.
There are gyms that will provide personal trainers at a discount every so often, but if you feel the need to have a trainer at your side helping and motivating you every step of the way keep in mind that it will likely cost you a bit of money for this extra service.
A good rule of thumb is to utilize the services of a personal trainer when they’re offered at a discount or if your gym offers them for free to new members for a short period of time.
Personal trainers are there to ensure that you get the maximum benefit of your workouts and find the experience engaging and altogether helpful.
In terms of your fitness goals your trainer or even the staff can give you several pointers when it comes to what you’re after.
For many people it’s about weight loss, but there are some that want to increase their strength, endurance, speed, and even their overall health. There are many ways to attain all of these, but the most basic are those listed below.
First Things First, STRETCH
This can’t be said enough, and it isn’t done enough by many upon many of those that have had years in the gym and still don’t see it as a common practice.
As a beginner you are going to be sore after your workouts no matter what and stretching won’t help relieve every ache and pain you have.
But stretching before and after your workout will allow your body to loosen up and react in a much more positive manner when it comes to lifting and performing actions that you’ve never done before.
Without stretching there is a much greater chance of cramping, increased muscle tension, and even the possibility of injury since going into a workout cold is not a great idea.
Even when finished it’s necessary to stretch to avoid having your muscles bunch up painfully. So, stretch before and after your workout, as your trainer will hopefully instruct you.
Be ready for a lot of trainers to focus on strengthening your core muscles ahead of anything else, as a strong core is the beginning of a strong and healthy body.
What this means is you’re going to be doing a lot of work on your abs, meaning crunches, twists, planks, etc.
Your core needs to be the strongest part of your body as it is what helps you stabilize the most and is therefore one of the most important parts to work on first.
Expect your trainer to focus on this area constantly and attempt to make it as strong as possible.
You won’t just be doing ab work, so don’t worry, but within every workout there will be time set aside for abs and you will feel your stomach tightening and strengthening as the days and then weeks go by.
From that point on you might find that your balance starts to increase and the workouts you endure from that point forward begin to feel a bit easier as you find yourself able to add more and more weight throughout the coming weeks.
Always be aware of the signals your body is giving you however no matter how easy the weight might seem.
Trembling arms and legs are a sign that your body is reaching or has reached its limit, so don’t feel the need to exceed those limits on a regular basis.
Your body will continue to grow stronger as time goes by, but you need to allow it time to relax and recover as well.
This type of training is more about burning calories and leading to weight loss while increasing the potential of the individual to endure longer and longer periods of exercise.
There’s not much emphasis on weights and there’s a great deal of emphasis on cardio exercises that will push the body to new limits.
If your goals are to burn calories and lose weight then this is the type of training that you’ll want to focus on, but many trainers will still suggest that you spend some time in the weight room just to keep your muscle mass from fading too much.
During endurance training you’ll be focused more on such machines as the treadmill, the stationary bike, the stair climber, and any others that will get your heart rate up and allow you to start burning calorie at an accelerated rate.
Stretching is necessary before and after these exercises however as in the beginning you might find that after a few minutes you’ll feel as though you’ve just run a mile when in all honesty it might have been only a quarter of a mile or less.
Endurance training is designed to strengthen your cardiovascular system and therefore allow a person to push themselves longer and harder than they did before.
One of the biggest downfalls of this however is that prolonged running or other similar activities can be hard on the knees and other joints, so it’s still advisable to visit the weight room from time to time in order to keep a well-rounded training regimen.
This type of training doesn’t involve a lot of weights, if any. In fact, weights might be used as an aid to this type of training and not much more since flexibility training involves more stretching than anything.
This type of workout is designed to increase the range of motion that your body possesses in order to keep you limber, agile, and overall more flexible.
The upside of course is that your increased flexibility can lead to increased overall strength within your core and your limbs, and it can also reduce the risk of injury as it makes the body more limber and able to withstand more physical stress.
You’ll also see the benefits of improved posture and overall health as this type of training improves the overall efficiency of your movements and your bodily functions.
One of the only real downsides of this type of training comes when it’s done incorrectly. For instance, holding a stretch for more than 30 seconds is not recommended as it can overtax the muscles and therefore cause injury either before or as soon as a person goes to exercise.
This type of training doesn’t use weights primarily, but as with other types of training it is usually recommended to integrate this with other types such as strength training and even endurance training.
Now that you’re off to a decent start there’s one other thing that you’re going to have to think about, and it’s one of the hardest things of all.
I’ll only go into brief detail about it since many of us can likely remember Health class and don’t need to be lectured over and over concerning what we eat and why it affects how we live.
In this case however it is important to note that eating foods that are at least halfway healthy before and after a workout is far more beneficial than if one heads for a fast food restaurant either before or after visiting the gym.
Whatever you do, don’t do what was just described above. Grease, salt, and any other ingredients you’ll find in a fast food bag aren’t your friends and they won’t help you in the gym.
If you must eat before going to a workout then try something that has some protein and stick to fruits and veggies if you can.
The energy boost you’ll need isn’t going to come from a soda or energy drink so leave those at home or, better yet, leave them on the shelf where they belong.
When going to the gym you’re going to need energy to perform, but that energy will be easier to access if your body isn’t bogged down by chemicals and other ingredients.
Try chicken, fruits, veggies, even yogurt if you feel the need, but stay away from the junk food, it won’t help.
During the workout
It’s usually best if you don’t eat while you’re working out, but if you absolutely feel the need or haven’t eaten in a while, packing a couple of protein bars isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Try to make sure that you read the ingredients carefully, and if you can avoid them then perhaps pack some fruit, or even trail mix in your gym bag.
Just be sure to not eat anything on the gym floor since most gyms don’t take kindly to this. Eat it outside or in the locker room, or perhaps in the common area if they have one. Just don’t fill up since working out on a full stomach isn’t the greatest idea.
A lot of people will make the mistake of thinking “I did good today, I deserve a treat.”. While that’s kind of true, the treat you want and are used to might not be the best idea since all that hard work you just did can be undone in an instant.
Instead of snacking on cookies, ice cream, cake, or any other sugar-laden treat try instead a healthy dinner and something that might still have a fair number of calories but is also designed to help your body recover after a hard session at the gym.
Now you’ve found a gym, decided what kind of training you want, and have at least reviewed what it might take to change your dietary habits, the hardest part is still ahead: managing your time and remaining consistent.
It’s obvious that things are going to happen in life from time to time that don’t allow you to get to the gym, but until such things occur you should plan on making time to hit the gym at least two to three times a week in the beginning.
These sessions should last at least 30 minutes or more depending on how you’re feeling and how things are progressing.
As your fitness level begins to increase, you’ll find that you might need more time to warm up and then more time to get a good workout in, so you’ll have to plan your time accordingly.
Here are just a few ways to do that:
- Have a set time that you want to go to the gym, preferably in the morning or the evening if you work during the day. It might mean getting up early or staying up a bit later, but it’s an important adjustment if you want to keep things moving forward.
- Set an alarm to wake you up in the morning or alert you in the evening of when it’s time to go to the gym. This way you can’t ‘accidentally’ forget.
- Keep yourself motivated. Remind yourself continually of why you’re doing this and what benefits you’re hoping to gain. It’s going to be tough, but motivation is one of the key elements that you’ll need to make it happen.
For men and women alike getting to the gym is important for your health, as is finding the right gym, understanding what your goals will be upon joining, and what you want to get out of it.
This is your life remember, and your health should be an important factor to your lifestyle.
Finding a gym and creating a workout that is catered to your style and your level of fitness is crucial to staying motivated.