So, you have finally decided to get fit, huh? That’s commendable, there’s no doubt about that. But, you have a problem. You don’t know where to start and what to do exactly, right? Don’t worry about that. Everyone has been in that situation at least once.
Showing up in the gym for the first time can be a discouraging and even stressful experience. When you step into the gym, you’ll see a bunch of guys looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger hauling incredible amounts of weight like it’s nothing. Don’t let that discourage you. Those guys were once in your shoes.
You’re now on the road to becoming a healthier, stronger person, so don’t feel discouraged when you see those guys at the gym. Instead, perceive them as motivation.
Proper gym etiquette consists of unspoken rules. These rules are matters of common sense, and you need to follow them.
- Always bring two towels – One for your post-workout shower and one for the sweat-soaked equipment.
- Don’t rest on a machine someone is waiting to use – You’ll find plenty of places to relax in the gym, so don’t be rude and rest on a machine.
- Rerack all the weight and replace the dumbbells and barbells you’ve used.
- Leave your cell phone in your locker – Some people like to work out while listening to music, but don’t use your phone for that. Get an iPod or any other music player. No one likes listening to another person’s phone conversations.
Avoid making common mistakes
Now that you know how to behave at the gym let’s take a look at some common mistakes you should avoid making while working out.
- Not using enough weight – Playing it safe is important, but if you can do 20 or 30 reps without breaking a sweat, you might want to increase it just a bit. Increase the weight by 5 – 10% and see what happens.
- Using too much weight – It doesn’t matter how strong you think you are, always start a little bit lower than your expected ability and work your way up. If you start feeling uncomfortable or if your form sways, that might be a sign that you’re using too much weight. Remember, you’re not at the gym to prove anything to those around you, so lower the weight and avoid injuries
- Don’t try to be Barry Allen – You will gain nothing by lifting weights too fast, so don’t try to be the Flash. Slowly lifting the weights is actually better because you’ll activate more muscle fibers and will suffer much less tissue trauma.
- Rest for 30 – 90 seconds – Resting for too long or not resting enough is not good, and can be a workout killer.
Don’t forget the proper accessories
There are a lot of accessories that you can use at the gym to improve your performance. Some of them are practically useless, and some will actually help you work out better and smarter. Here are the accessories worth your time:
- Weight belt – This belt is considered to be essential. They stabilize and reduce pressure on the spine and create better body biomechanics.
- Weightlifting shoes – These specially designed shoes are durable and rigid, which is incredibly important. They are designed to provide you with an excellent support and to align the bones of the ankle and foot in order to keep your knees in proper alignment when squatting. Throw away your old workout shoes and get a pair of good and durable weightlifting shoes before setting your foot in the gym.
- Wrist wraps – Wrist wraps are designed to support your wrists when you’re doing pressing or overhead exercises. Leather straps are more secure, but for the best fit, you should use elastic wraps with Velcro. Always wear wraps on both wrists if you don’t want to affect your lifting mechanics.
- Stay hydrated – Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day. Dehydration is your enemy. It can make you feel weak, and you’ll be less effective in the weight room.
- Eat balanced meals – Forget about stuffing yourself with food. A small, balanced meal with equal portions of protein and carbohydrates prior to each workout will do wonders for your health and training efforts.
- Keep a record of what you do – Write down everything you did at the gym, or get an app that allows you to do the same. See how well you’re sticking to your program and find out if you need to make some adjustments.
Start slow and cultivate positive habits. Weightlifting is as tough as it is rewarding. You won’t look like Lou Ferrigno after a month of going to the gym, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Now go out there and start pumping iron.