Showing up at the gym on your own for the first time can be daunting. A group of guys built like out-houses lifting, pulling and pushing more weight than you’ve ever witnessed. Your thoughts centring on A, not looking soft. B, not getting hurt and C, not getting in any ones way! That’s before you even start to ponder how many years it will take you to get that big and strong.
But fear not, because the fact that you have made it as far as the first day at the gym is a real positive start. That has taken time, money and commitment, you are definitely on your way to getting bigger, stronger and more attractive to the opposite sex (that’s why you’re really here right? 😉 )
But remember, if you are lifting weights incorrectly or too often you will get injured. To avoid getting hurt you must ensure you are using correct form and training volume. That’s why we’re here, Pro Fitness Review will guide you though technique, programming, diet and recovery so you are able to meat your fitness goals.
To start with follow these tips for beginners:
List of tips for beginners
Start slow. One of the most common mistakes is expecting to do and trying to do too much from day one. Start slow and make changes to your daily routine and training schedule slowly. This includes things such as not going from no training to attending the gym every day. Or trying to up the weight and repetitions of exercises on each visit. Small increments are far less daunting and pay off in the long run.
Gym etiquette. Be conscious of others. There is no quicker way to feel uncomfortable than by upsetting others at the gym with your conduct. Always have towel to wipe your sweat off of machines and weights once you are finished with them. Put equipment back where you found it, so others can find it. Don’t talk on the mobile phone or play music so loud that it disturbs others. And just generally be polite, social and friendly with people. A nod and a smile go a long way.
Be prepared to spot. That is assist others around you as they lift weights. For example, as in the picture to the right, stand behind someone when they are bench pressing with a barbell. Should the weight become too much for them you can step in and lift it, preventing it from crushing them and causing an injury. Make sure you ask them exactly it is that you can do to help, if you are unsure just ask. They would rather you be sure than risk injury. Also do not be hesitant to ask questions of the people around you, be they on exercises or technique. They will probably find it a compliment to be asked.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is very important, muscle is 75% water. If you are dehydrated then your muscles suffer. They are more prone to cramping, plus recovery takes longer. A good guide is to weigh yourself before training then top up the weight you lost with fluid once you finish.
The dumbbell is king. You will rarely have to wait for a pair and you won’t need a spotter. But more importantly they are the best way to build real strength. They will work muscles harder than machines and you will get stronger, quicker. Extremely functional, dumbbells work the supporting, stabilising muscles at the same time as the larger muscles and muscle groups. This leads to great all round full body strength. Read our guide on pros and cons of free weights vs weight machines here.
Think posture. Correct form is key, and poor posture means form will be poor. The reason that there are mirrors along the wall in the weight section of the gym is not for the members vanity (well maybe a little bit). It’s so it’s possible to watch your form and posture as you work out. For nearly all exercises you should have a straight back with chest out, shoulders back and abs held tight.
Pick the right weight. It may be tempting to work with a weight beyond your capability to try and disguise your inexperience. All that will be happening is you’ll be using momentum from other parts of your body to lift it. This achieves very little. You will not be working the muscle you intended, and your results will be poorer. You should be able to lift a weight without relying on movement from any part of your body except the muscles you intend to train. Lifting too heavy a weight is only fooling yourself.
Warm up and cool down. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. You should carry out a warm up before every training session. It prepares your muscles, improves performance and decreases risk of injury. A cool down afterwards is also important. You will recover quicker from exertion and reduce risk of picking up an injury.
Wrapping this up
Hopefully you feel a little more prepared having reviewed our guide. Following these tips will make the first few trips to the gym a little less daunting, a little more enjoyable, and set you up for years on pumping iron in the weights room!
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