Going to the gym for the first time can be intimidating. You may be wondering what to do, how to do it, and end up leaving disappointed. Well here are my top 7 tips for a beginner in the gym!
1. Set Goals for Yourself :: Before anyone starts going to the gym, I suggest you set goals for yourself, both long-term and short-term. Long-term goals are great. They help you figure out what you want and how you will get there. However, long-term goals take a long time. I know, that sounds like I am stating the obvious. But fitness does not come in a magic pill or a one week cleanse. It can take months, even years to see results. So how do you stay positive and motivated? Short-term goals. By setting these, you will stay on track and motivated to hit your next goal. These goals can be anything from losing your first 5 pounds, going to the gym 5 days a week, or even making a goal to get active for 30 minutes a day for just 2 weeks. Making realistic goals will give you the motivation you need to keep going! Lastly, just because you hit your long-term goal doesn't mean you shouldn't make another. You should constantly be striving for a new goal. You are strong. Keep it going!
2. Make a Workout Plan :: Knowing what you are going to do in the gym will prevent you from wandering around, thinking about what you are going to do next. This will make you feel more confident and comfortable while you are working out. Decide beforehand what muscle groups you want to work. Many times you will see people talk about their "splits". All this means is they have paired muscle groups to work together on different days. There are so many different ways you can do your splits and do not have to follow a certain kind. I would suggest trying to have 3-4 different exercises per muscle group. For example, I am currently doing shoulders and arms together. This means I will do 3-4 different exercises for my biceps, 3-4 for triceps, and 3-4 for shoulders. For lean muscle, aim for 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions. For mass, lift heavier weights for 4-6 repetitions. To increase intensity, keep rests between sets down to 30 seconds. This will get your heart rate up while lifting. Whatever you are wanting to achieve, write it down or record it on your phone so you know exactly what you are going to do before you set foot in the gym.
3. Form and Technique :: This one is huge. For one, if you do not watch your form, you run the risk of injury. That can set you back weeks in your training. We obviously do not want that happening. Also, by watching your form, you will maximize each exercise. If you are doing squats and only sit into barely parallel, you are not getting the most out of that exercise. Drop that booty down as low as you can without compromising your knees. That will allow you to get the most out of the exercise. You want to make sure you are using full range of motion in each exercise.
4. Start Easy :: A common mistake people make is getting to the gym and throwing a ridiculous amount of weight around. The best way to get going is to start easy. Pick a weight that you know you can handle. If you can barely lift the weight more than a few times and your goal is to hit 15 reps, you are lifting too heavy. You could either injure yourself or end up not being able to complete your workout. If you are getting to that 12th repetition and aren't struggling to push out the last few reps, you need to increase that weight. I have made the mistake of trying to lift a weight I knew was too heavy for me. Thankfully, I had someone there to spot me and wasn't majorly injured. I promise, it is not worth feeling like you wrecked your body for days. You can always add more reps or more weight as you go. As you progress, you will find what weights you are comfortable with with each exercise and will be able to more easily gauge when it is time to increase that weight.
5. Don't be Nervous :: Many of my clients tell me they are nervous when I start walking them over to the weights. For some, the cardio machines are less intimidating than the weight section. Women especially struggle with this. Here is the thing: everyone is focused on their own workout. They are not looking at you. One thing that helped me feel more comfortable was putting my favorite playlist on and jamming to music the whole time. It will help you tune out the other people there. Be proud of yourself for getting in there with the big dogs and show them what you got. The more you put yourself with those weights, the more confident you will start to feel.
6. Find Accountability :: Sometimes, you have to drag yourself to the gym. I have days where I just want to sleep in and skip the gym. It happens. So find accountability. Plan when you are going to the gym each day of the week. Make yourself go. On those days that you just aren't feeling it, text that friend for some encouragement. Get a personal trainer. Get a gym buddy. You need someone who will be there for you and encourage you to spend that 30 minutes each day being active. I promise, once you start working out consistently for a month, you will crave it. Exercise gives you an amazing feeling. Just trust me, get up and go. Start right now.
7. Eat Clean :: Your body needs fuel and fuel means food. Feed your body. Give it clean, healthy food every single day. For one, this will help you achieve those goals that you set. Diet plays a huge role in weight loss, muscle gain or "tone", and overall health. I'm not asking you to go on a diet. I am asking you to make wise choices (do I sound like a mom when I say that?). But seriously, start with making that one choice every meal.. Please DO NOT crash diet. Don't go cutting all your carbs on me or become obsessed with every single thing you eat. Be realistic. Trust me, you can still enjoy eating delicious foods while keeping it clean. Your body needs food. Fueling your body with the right foods will increase your strength and endurance at the gym. You will feel better, look better, and achieve those goals so much quicker! Go to your pantry and throw out all those potato chips. Put clean food in your home and you will put clean food in your body.
Those are my top 7 tips for beginners. Follow these and I guarantee you will get results. You got this! I believe in you and I am with you on this journey! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments!