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Gym Workout for Beginners

Updated on April 22, 2016

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Learn how to look like a pro in the gym, regardless of your workout experience.
Learn how to look like a pro in the gym, regardless of your workout experience. | Source

How to Choose a Gym

For those without the space or start-up funds to make their own home gym, a gym membership remains one of the best ways to get into shape...provided of course that you use it! One of the most daunting things to a beginner is choosing your gym. There is a lot more to consider than just price and opening times. If you are paying for the use of a terrible gym, then you are wasting your money.

Make sure you have decent answers to these 5 questions before you sign that contract:

  1. Can I have a trial period? The longer the better. Some gyms offer 3 day free passes for prospective members. These allow you to try the gym out over a number of days at different times. If you gym only offers you an hour in the gym before the hard sell, take your custom elsewhere - they are hiding something.
  2. How crowded does it get? This question is best asked of someone who uses the gym, preferably during your free trial. Even better, use your free trial during the time of day you would want to use the facilities. No point paying for the use of equipment you have to queue up for 20 minutes to use.
  3. When can I use the gym? Some budget plans only allow use of facilities during off peak times. These are usually during the working day. If you can't use the gym during this time, there is no point paying for it.
  4. What do I get for my money? You should be looking for a membership that gives you classes, use of the gym, showers, towels, drinking water and spotters. If it doesn't, what are you paying for!? Use of a swimming pool, sauna and steam room are an added bonus.
  5. How long does the contract run for? Some gyms run short term contracts, particularly during school summer holidays or in the New Year. Longer contracts tend to carry a lower monthly fee, but are a nightmare to cancel if your circumstances change. Make sure you know the ins-and-outs of the contract before you sign. Know what you are committing yourself to!

What Equipment should my Gym Have?

Weight Training Area
Cardio Area
Stretching Area
Miscellaneous
Squat Rack(s)
Exercise Bikes
Exercise mats
Changing room (with showers and lockers)
Olympic Barbells
Cross Trainers
Rollers
Chains (for use with bench press and squat)
Numerous assorted olympic weight plates
Treadmills
Gym Balls
Punch bags and speed balls
Numerous adjustable benches
Rowing Machines
Wobble Balls
Various Kettlebells
Assorted Dumb Bells
 
Medicine Balls
Water Stations
Dip Bars/Station
 
 
 
Pull Up Bars/Station
 
 
 
Plenty of Floor Space
 
 
 
On your first tour of the gym, make sure that all of the equipment above is present and in a good condition. Don't judge a gym on the number of weight machines, but on the quality, quantity and variety of it's free weights and accessories

Beginner Gym Workout Video

With big lifts, correct technique is important - unlike here. When deadlifting, keep your chest up and imagine you are trying to hold an orange under your chin. Drive through your heels and use the mirror to check your form - same for the squat.
With big lifts, correct technique is important - unlike here. When deadlifting, keep your chest up and imagine you are trying to hold an orange under your chin. Drive through your heels and use the mirror to check your form - same for the squat. | Source
The bench press is the ultimate in upper body strength. Here we see great form - a spotter, flat back, feet on the floor and arms not locked out.
The bench press is the ultimate in upper body strength. Here we see great form - a spotter, flat back, feet on the floor and arms not locked out. | Source
Pull ups are a great compound lift that will give much better results than hours of bicep curls. Try not to cheat - pull yourself up under control, don't use your own momentum
Pull ups are a great compound lift that will give much better results than hours of bicep curls. Try not to cheat - pull yourself up under control, don't use your own momentum | Source

Gym Etiquette

There are some behaviours that mark you out as a gym novice. Some are funny, some are annoying, some are dangerous. Make sure you follow the rules of gym etiquette:

  1. Wipe down the equipment: It's courteous, hygienic, and shows that you are finished with a piece of equipment. As an aside, make sure you put your equipment back when you are finished with it.
  2. Pick the correct weight. You should choose a weight that allows you to just complete the last rep of your last set. If you pick a weight heavier than this, your form will suffer and you will not get the full benefit of the exercise. Worse, you will look like a fool and greatly increase your risk of injury. This will take a bit of trial and error to perfect.
  3. Complete with the correct form: Ask someone (ideally a trainer or staff member) to show you how to do an exercise properly, with a light weight. Don't 'cheat' to thrash out a few more reps. You risk injury, look ridiculous and don't get the full benefit of the exercise.
  4. Don't hog the equipment: This will annoy your fellow-gym goers and will do you no good. Repeating the same exercise for an hour will not super-size your results, but actually cause you to get weaker. Also, keep your heart rate high by limiting your rest - you should spend no longer than 2 minutes between sets recovering. Gym sessions are meant to be hard. Some people may ask to 'work in' with you - this means that they use the equipment when you are resting between sets, and vice versa. This is always recommended.
  5. Don't interrupt a set: There is nothing more annoying (or dangerous) than someone trying to strike up a conversation with you mid set - you may have 100lbs above your head! If you need to ask someone something, make sure you wait until they have finished their set.
  6. Don't Procrastinate: You are here to workout, not watch TV, check twitter, send a text or find the perfect song on your iPod. Leave the phone at home, have a mix ready on the iPod, ignore the TVs and keep chatter to a minimum.
  7. Correct workout in the correct space: Nothing is more irritating than someone banging out biceps curls in the squatting rack, or using the bench press rack to sit on between shoulder press sets. If you are not using the equipment for it's intended purpose, and someone looks like they are after the area, offer it to them and move to some vacant space.

Creating a Gym Workout

You should ask a trainer to make your first workout (or get one from online) that teaches you the correct form in the big lifts:

  • Bench Press
  • Squat (front or back)
  • Deadlift variations
  • Overhead/Shoulder Press
  • Pull Up/Chin up
  • Tricep dip

Once you are comfortable with completing these moves with the proper form, you should have a go at making your own workout routine.

  • Aim to be in the gym no longer than an hour
  • 2-6 different exercises
  • Hit 2 opposing muscle groups at the same time
  • Sets of 3-4
  • Reps of 6-12

Gym Workout Rules

Exercise
Time
Reason
Warmup - skipping with some body weight moves (e.g. press-ups, squats, crunches)
5 minutes
You need to get blood pumping and muscles warm to avoid injury. Too much warming up eats into your energy reserves. Don't overstretch either - this can weaken your muscles before your first set
Heavy compound exercises (e.g. Deadlifts, pull ups, squats, bench press)
15-25 minutes
Go heavy whilst still fresh. Compound moves recruit more than one muscle and lead to a greater release of growth hormone
Isolation moves (e.g. bicep curls, lateral rises, tricep pull downs)
10-15 minutes
Use moves that complement your big compound moves. Pair squats with leg presses, chin ups with bicep curls, chest presses with pec flys for maximum muscle growth
Core (crunches, planks, barbell rollouts)
10 minutes
Attacking your core too early weakens your stabiliser muscles, making big lifts more difficult and dangerous. Leave core work until the end
Warm down (bodyweight moves, foam rollers)
5-10 minutes
Rolling out muscle knots and using light weights flushes lactic acid from your system and can prevent muscle soreness
Make sure your weekly routine hits all the major muscle groups - don't neglect your legs or back or you are limiting the amount of growth over the rest of your body too! Make sure you balance your workout.Mon - Chest and Back; Wed - Biceps and Tricep

Comments

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    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      Thanks, I am actually looking into joining a gym, great information.

    • TFScientist profile image
      Author

      Rhys Baker 4 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Glad to be of help!

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I thought this was a guide to gym workouts for beginners- not how to choose a gym which straight away switched me off as a reader and will likely have people clicking away from your page.

      You could have written an awesome hub on workouts for beginners- as it turns out it shows an extreme lack of knowledge on the area and subsequently shows little on the title.

      As a qualified gym instructor my impression on this is that you';re deeply letting down any potential exercisers

      Apologies if this sounds harsh. There's far too much general info on hubpages regarding health and fitness and this lets the viewer down who is searching for specifics.

    • TFScientist profile image
      Author

      Rhys Baker 4 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Maybe you should have read and viewed the whole thing then? As a qualified gym instructor you should know that workout routines should be built around general principles but tailored to the individual. Something that cannot be done online. The links go to workout routines, the video gives a routine, the table gives ideas for making your own workouts.

      You clearly haven't read before commenting. Also, you don't understand how to optimise a hub for search engines. Hub pages traffic does not bring in revenue.

      In the meantime, stop whining. If you think you can improve, write it yourself. That is the beauty of this site

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I read this as someone would from a search engine.

      Maybe you need to consider what you've written. I've read it and it doesn't address the title effectively. Whether you're optimising for the net or not makes no difference- you've not addressed the title until the end therefore 'turning off' a viewers interest.

      If (by luck) someone finds this through a search engine they're going to take a look and click away. If I search the web for info on gym workouts for beginners that's what I want- not utter rubbish on gym etiquette

      There simply isn't enough on workouts for beginners except for the video

      I've just shown the article to other gym goers and they feel you're letting them down.

      Everyone seems to have written articles on the subject- there's hundreds already on hp already.

    • TFScientist profile image
      Author

      Rhys Baker 4 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      I will get over it, I'm sure. My portfolio is wide enough to attract sufficient visitors and previous commenters have found it useful. Perhaps you need to address this need yourself, rather than fretting over my writing. We have both completed the AP, both learned the lessons. With over 2000views per day, I must be doing something right.

      Glad to know you think gym etiquette is rubbish. Quite a poor trainer you must be. Your narrow focus in life is mirrored in your own hub portfolio. I weep for your social life if all you do is seek out people to comment on your hub comments. O well.

      If I am upsetting gym users everywhere, redress the balance and write your own hub along the same lines. Stop whining about my writing and see it as an opportunity to extend your own writing. Then all whom I have disappointed will still have a hub to visit.

      Or are you just annoyed that I have nicked the title? :p

    • savvydating profile image

      savvydating 2 years ago

      Wow! Great information. I'm looking at gyms right now. The one I'm attracted to does not offer all the amenities you listed, but it is so close-by, I can work-out during my lunch period. So.....I'm thinking of joining that one. Mostly, my goal is to make it hard for me to make excuses for not working out. Thanks for all the great tips! Up & useful.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 23 months ago from Maui and Arizona

      I enjoyed this hub including the Gym Etiquette portion of which I had no clue. This is a very useful hub for many of us novices.

      Pinning and Sharing and voted up and across.

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