New year, new you. The new year is a great time to set new goals and there are few better than improving your health and fitness. We know getting started at the gym and maintaining it can be daunting and difficult. If you’re a beginner, these simple tips will help you get started and stay on track on your journey to a new you.
1. Set yourself goals
It’s a great idea to set yourself realistic goals before heading to the gym. Getting the best results for you will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Whether it’s losing weight, getting fitter, increasing muscle mass or a combination, knowing what your goal will determine what’s in your workout and how it’s structured. Your goals will likely change over time so it’s a good idea to set both short and long term ones. If you’re unsure what you want to achieve you can start by talking to a trainer at the gym.
2. Complete your gym induction
If you’re new to the gym, getting an induction is the best place to start. This will help you get a feel for the gym, understand what equipment is available, how to use it safely and ask questions. To make the most of your induction come prepared with some questions and an idea of what you want to achieve. Have a bung knee? a dodgy shoulder? Or looking to improve your sprint times? Your trainer will be able to point you in the right direction to get started without aggravating any old injuries.
3. Plan your sessions
It is a great idea to get to the gym with a planned workout in mind. Even after it becomes a habit, a plan will help you stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve. It’s also a good idea to keep it flexible by having a few body weight exercises up your sleeve for times when your machine or weights are taken.
4. Take it easy
When starting out, take it easy on yourself. Try starting with three, 30-minute sessions at the gym per week while you get a feel for your routine. Starting out with a few shorter sessions will help you stay motivated and help get you into shape safer and more effectively. Doing this for the first month or so before increasing your time or number of sessions per week is a great way to pace yourself and ease into your new routine and avoid injury or other setbacks.
5. Schedule your workout
When starting out at the gym, don’t get put off by the number of people and the time you spend waiting for your next piece of equipment. Instead of getting frustrated, skipping sessions or rushing through, try changing up your session times. Find out when the busy periods are so you can plan around them for a less crowded experience. Generally, peak periods tend to be a few hours before work (6-8.30AM), around lunchtime (12-2PM), and a few hours after work (5-7PM).
6. Avoid burn out
In the long run you’re better off doing shorter, moderate intensity strength circuits a few times a week than longer circuits six times a week, and burning out or getting injured after three weeks. It’s important to remember that it takes time and consistency to build your body, especially when you’re starting out.
7. Find your support network
Having friends, family or even co-workers to exercise with will help keep you motivated and improve your chances of reaching your goals. Finding this support and motivation may also have an influence on your lifestyle outside of the gym, helping you to stay healthy, improve your diet and general well-being.
8. Find what you enjoy
You’re much more likely to stick with a new gym routine if you find exercises that you enjoy. Start by using a variety of different machines and equipment and work out which exercises you like the most that contribute to achieving your goals.
9. Setbacks will happen
Setbacks will happen but it’s important to know that this is okay. Consistency and staying flexible in your goals are key. Whether you have an injury setback, you’re lacking motivation or you’ve over indulged on holiday, the important thing is not to be deterred, take it easy on yourself, understand why you had the setback and make changes to prevent it happening again.
10. Warm up and cool down
While it is tempting to jump straight into your workout, it’s important to remember to properly warm up first to prepare your body for exercise and help stay injury free. Try dynamic stretches for your warm up and remember to take some time to cool down when you finish. Taking rest days is also an important part of starting your new fitness regime, giving your body time to recover and repair.
11. Post workout protein
To help with your post gym recovery, try using a protein powder or nutritional supplement. Taking protein powder after a workout helps build muscle and repair tissue. Using protein powder can also aid with weight loss and help tone muscles. Optimum Nutrition – Gold Standard 100% Whey, Dymatize – ISO 100, and BSN – SYNTHA 6 are all popular choices to get you started.
12. Monitor your progress
Whether you’re into all the health tech gadgets or not, tracking your progress can help you achieve your goals. This may be recording the number of push-ups you can do, logging your sprint times, noting your maximum bench press or your body fat percentage. Tracking your improvements over time will also help keep you motivated on days when it feels like a slog.
13. Sort your playlists
Getting some great music playlists together can help you stay focused for longer, keep you motivated and help you enjoy your workout more. There are heaps of music apps available that can put playlists together for you based on what you like.
When new to the gym scene there are a few standard hygiene etiquettes to be across, which are mostly common sense – like bringing a towel into the gym area; washing your hands before and after working out; using deodorant; leaving the equipment clean (using your gym towel); and staying away when you’re sick.
Following these easy tips and tricks will help you get stated with your New Year’s goal and stick to it!