Believe it or not, we have all been there. Everyone has to start from day one and we understand the struggles you are facing. After all, who wouldn’t want to be fit and healthy without the effort?
Unfortunately, only very few people in the world are gifted with great genes, for us common mortals there are only two ways to stay healthy and that’s through exercise and nutrition.
However, if you are reading this article you are already two steps ahead: firstly, you are in the right mind-set and are ready to show up for yourself; secondly, you will benefit from these 10 tips which will hopefully make training a lot easier and enjoyable that you want to show up again and again.
Whoever you are, entering the gym for the first time can be quite intimidating. Perhaps all those muscles around you make you feel unease, perhaps you don’t know what to do or you are not confident with your body.
Don’t worry, you are not alone. The first tip on our list is:
Make sure you are wearing something you are not only comfortable in training with but also something you are comfortable with in general. Put on your favourite t-shirt and leggings, or tracksuit, whatever makes you feel good in. Remember some exercises or stretching will require you to bend or be in awkward positions so just bare that in mind.
It’s a good idea to get your favourite playlist ready ahead of your session. Listening to your favourite music not only can boost your energy levels, it can also keep your mind occupied and make you forget your surroundings so that you focus only on yourself and your training. One thing you should not forget is: don’t single along to the chorus too loud!
You can find some awesome playlists here to get you motivated:
Before you even step into the gym, we recommend you set yourself achievable goals and have at least an idea of the training you would like to do.
People go to the gym for a variety of reasons: lose weight, build muscle, tone, increase strength or simply to get their body moving and improve both physical and mental health. Whatever your goal is it must be a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant(or realistic) and Time-bound. In other words, have a specific goal in mind for this session and keep your long term goal only at the back of your mind; take it easy, don’t do too much too soon, and have real expectations. You need to be able to quantify your goal and have a short to mid-term deadline to achieve it. For example, if you are into weight lifting, aim to increase your weight or reps by a small amount each time.
Whether you are into cardio, weights, resistance training or you simply don’t know it’s important to do a bit of research beforehand to make sure you get to the gym with a plan so that you don’t waste time. This will also help you with your confidence as you won’t be wondering aimless around the gym.
There are plenty of videos on youtube that can help you select the best exercises for your goals.
One thing we strongly recommend beginners (or just about anyone) to do is warm up. This is particularly important to prevent injuries by making sure your body is ready to exercise. Start by mobilising the areas and body parts you want to exercise by doing gentle movements.
Equally important is to stretch after your gym session: this will help to gradually slow down the body, increase flexibility and reduce pain from exercising. There are a lot of videos on the internet that can guide you through.
Find a quiet corner of the room where you can spend some time practicing these movements, a mirror will be your best friend!
Keeping hydrated is very important; whichever time you chose to exercise during the day make sure you re fully hydrated before you start your session. Water is like fuel for your muscles it helps bust energy levels and prevents cramps.
Drinking water during and after exercise is just as important. When your temperature goes up whilst exercising, your body will try and cool itself down through sweat. As sweat evaporates from your skin, you also lose body fluid. It’s important to refuel your body with water to reduce the stress on your body, increase performance and improve body function.
Almost all gyms nowadays have water refills. Check out some of the best water bottles on the market and make sure you always bring one with you when working out.
Training with a friend is a great way to workout. Not only it can be more fun but it will also help to keep yourself motivated during your session. In fact, you are more likely to stick to your commitment and less likely to miss planned workouts simply because you don’t want to let down your friends.
You are also more likely to succeed in achieving your goals as you will be working out harder with someone else around you.
If you don’t have gym buddy yet, don’t worry. Gyms are also a good place to build new friendships with someone who is already sharing a common interest to you.
If, however, you are someone who loves to work out alone then that is absolutely fine too!
This tip could be an article on its own.
To put it simple: whichever your goal is, you need to pair up your training with good nutrition.
When it comes to keeping fit and healthy, 80% of the work is done in the diet and the remaining 20% by exercising. This is why it is important to maintain a balanced diet to fuel your body with the right energy every day.
Exercise and diet go hand in hand and you can’t expect miracles if you don’t eat well around training. There is a famous saying: “You can’t out train a bad diet” and it is absolutely true.
There are many different diets out there on the internet, but in reality the most healthy diet is a balanced one, where you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs.
The Mediterranean diet is a great place to start, it works on a pyramid system where at the bottom you have a big portion of healthy food such as vegetables, legumes and fruit which should be consumed daily and at the top you have the refined sugary food which should only be consumed in small portions on weekly basis.
The most important factors for any diet when you are training:
Eat the right amount of protein
Eat enough fruit and veg
If you are trying to lose weight – be in a caloric deficit
If you are trying to gain muscle – be in a caloric surplus of around 300-500 calories
Nobody is perfect. Everyone has good days and bad days at the gym or just in life in general. Some days we are full of energy, get to the gym super excited and ready to go and have an amazing workout. Other days we might feel more sluggish and tired and don’t really want to leave home for the gym. It’s perfectly normal to have these days and they are just part of our modern life. It’s important though to analyse the causes of these bad days so we can address the issues behind them and get back on track as soon as we can. Potential causes of bad gym days can be: sleep, nutrition, hydration, physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation is one of the main factors in poor training and poor results; if we don’t get good quality sleep our bodies won’t recover and as result we won’t feel energised. It’s important to try and get enough quality sleep every night.
Nutrition is the fuel for your body and brain. If you have a poor diet which lacks in good vitamins and nutrients, your performance is definitely going to suffer. If you have long working days with no time to prepare meals and revert to fast food and junk food all week then your body will react to it making you feel less energised and less inclined to workout. Even when it comes to food, we all have cheat days and indulge in that chocolate bar or pizza every now and then however it is important to make sure we are eating a balanced diet overall.
Water intake plays a good part as well. Our bodies are made up of 60% of water; if you are dehydrated it becomes more more difficult to move oxygen and blood around. It is important to drink plenty of water especially when exercising as it helps with performance and makes exercise feel easier.
Health, whether physical or mental, plays a fundamental role in your training. If you are not feeling well, your training will suffer. Make sure you take time for yourself to address any health issues you may be going through and focus on your mental wellbeing and managing your stress levels. Exercise can be a form of stress relief and help with your mental or physical health, sometimes even a gentle walk around the park can make you almost instantly feel better. However, if this is not right for you when you are having one of those so called “bad days” why not try things like meditation or journaling to help you feeling better.
To sum up, if you find yourself having a bad day or a bad week, just take some time to reflect on the cause of it and try and make some positive changes around it if you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a few workouts or you don’t perform the way you want, just remind yourself this is part of the journey and focus on getting better and back on track as soon as you can.
Our next tip is: throw away the scales! Or at least stop focusing on them.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, change your body composition or just stay fit in general, measuring your progress through scales is not always the best way. Scales are not an accurate way of measuring your achievement as those numbers don’t distinguish between body fat and muscle. We find it much less stressful and enjoyable to take photos. This way you can measure your progress over time by comparing photos taken at different times in your journey. Looking at yourself in the mirror every day won’t make all the small changes that your body has gone through as obvious, as they happen slowly.
To summarise, stepping foot in the gym, if it does not feel natural, can be very overwhelming, but that feeling goes away with time. Within a couple of weeks I guarantee you will already be feeling 10x more motivated to walk through those gym doors. Give these tips a try, you never know, they may mean the difference between quitting early and sticking it out and becoming a gym addict.
My name is Gary and I run All About The Gains.
I am a qualified PT and have been training for 17 years. I have been involved in lots of disciplines from bodybuilding to boxing, functional training to kettlebells, running, Jiu Jitsu and H.I.I.T. I am currently a member of GB top team - an M.M.A gym in south London.
I have spent the last 15 years extensively researching topics on diet and supplements, muscle building, exercise and biomechanics and I write these articles so that the normal person can understand the topic, without having to visit 10+ sites. Each article I write is researched with reference to properly conducted studies. I link to all of these studies so that you can look into it yourself if needed.