Gym Workout for Beginners
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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Changing room (with showers and lockers)
Chains (for use with bench press and squat)
Numerous assorted olympic weight plates
Punch bags and speed balls
Numerous adjustable benches
Assorted Dumb Bells
Pull Up Bars/Station
Plenty of Floor Space
Beginner Gym Workout Video
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Warmup - skipping with some body weight moves (e.g. press-ups, squats, crunches)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Rolling out muscle knots and using light weights flushes lactic acid from your system and can prevent muscle soreness