If you’re a gym-goer, or a self proclaimed gym rat, you will almost certainly have noticed that, this January, and indeed many Januaries past, had an influx of new faces and members in your local gym.
Often referred to as New Years Resolutioners, these new members often join the gym in a bid to undo all of the damage that they did to their bodies over the festive season.
Unfortunately, as many as 70% of new members who join in January, quit after just two weeks, and are never to be seen again, at least, not until the following January. Now that it is mid March, you have probably also noticed the January gym newbies have started to disappear.
For those that do stick around, or simply for relatively new gym members, no matter what time of year it may be, working out in the gym can be a daunting experience and it can often be pretty confusing as well.
Many large commercial gyms are now decked out with state of the art high-tech machines and equipment, that honestly would look more at home in a sci-fi blockbuster movie set than a gym.
Needless to say, knowing how to use these machines can be difficult enough, yet that is only the beginning. Whether you’re new to the gym, are an intermediate, or even if you consider yourself a gym rat, there are still things that you probably aren’t aware of when it comes to the gym, that could potentially help land you the physique you’ve always wanted.
Here’s a look at just a few of the top tips for the gum that you probably don’t follow.
A healthy diet is the backbone to any program
Despite what some people would have you believe, if you are serious about getting in shape, building muscle, toning up, and burning fat, you are going to have to ensure that you make some pretty drastic changes, particularly when it comes to your diet.
You can’t expect to get in shape if you simply bust your butt in the gym, yet find yourself heading home and ordering a large pizza with a side of wedges, or something equally as greasy and unhealthy. Sadly, a healthy diet is the backbone to any health and fitness program, which means that if you are serious about making some changes, the first place to begin will be with your diet.
Forget processed junk food, simple carbs, foods rich in unhealthy trans fats, and other equally unhealthy, and sadly, often delicious foods and beverages, and instead, stock your fridge and cupboards full of healthy and natural produce. Make sure you get plenty of lean and natural protein sources, as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as they are packed full of natural goodness.
You don’t need to train 7 days a week
Many people approach health and fitness with an “all or nothing” attitude, yet this is not always the best way to go about things. We know that you need to exercise frequently and consistently in order to make noticeable gains, but you don’t need to be anywhere near as excessive and hardcore as some “experts” would have you believe.
There are many people who will look at themselves, not be happy with how they look, and think that the solution is to exercise 7 days per week, sometimes even performing cardio and/or lifting, twice per day.
This is unhealthy as it can lead to overtraining, which will prevent your muscles from recovering properly and could result in your metabolism slowing down.
In order for you to see optimal results, make sure you are taking at least two full days off from any form of exercise each week. That doesn’t mean you should slob around, eating junk, and drinking beer, it simply means that you should continue leading a healthy lifestyle, without exercise for those days.
Even if you can only get into the gym three times a week, don’t sweat it, as that is still more than adequate in order to burn fat and/or build muscle in the process.
Don’t fear the machines
When you read a large percentage of articles online, based on the topic of building muscle, you will find that most of the exercises listed in the articles, are based around free weight exercises and movements.
Of course, we all know that free weights are absolutely ideal for when it comes to building muscle, but that doesn’t mean that the exercise machines should be feared or avoided, either.
In reality, exercise machines are perfect for any health and fitness program, it just depends on how you utilize them. If you’re looking for fat loss and muscle toning for example, you may wish to go with a lighter weight and higher reps, moving from one exercise to the next, with little rest in between.
For muscle building however, machines still have their place as they are perfect for allowing you to really isolate certain muscle groups, making them perfect for supersetting.
Planning makes perfect
When you see relatively new gym users in the gym, you will often see them in there one day performing certain exercises, yet the next day, there they’ll be again, performing exactly the same exercises and routines as they were the previous day.
If you wish to make any noticeable progress, you need to structure your workouts in such a manner so as they allow you to work each major body part. How frequently these body parts get worked however, will depend on which sort of program you’re following, which leads us into the importance of planning your workouts and following a sensible program.
Don’t just walk into the gym and go through the motions by performing all of the easiest and your most favourite exercises, instead, take the time to come up with, or locate, a program that you can potentially see yourself following.
Not only should you plan which exercises you perform, you should also plan which days you decide to exercise on. That means that on the days that you are scheduled to exercise and workout, then unless it’s an emergency, you get your butt into the gym and you exercise and workout. Make your plans around your gym schedule, not the other way around.
Don’t worry about what others think
One of the most daunting things about joining a new gym and starting out your journey to health and fitness, is the other gym members.
A lot of people think that they are being judged by the gym regulars, when in reality, no matter your size, age, gender, or ability, 99% of all members will respect you for the simple reason that you are in the gym, working out, and trying to better yourself. People often find themselves feeling self conscious when they workout because they think that other members may be laughing at them or judging them.
In reality, other members truthfully couldn’t care less about you, as they will be in the gym to get a great workout in.
Many gym regulars will actually be very helpful and friendly, and may offer useful advice, or may even show you how to perform exercises correctly, or give you handy tips.
Gyms nowadays are judgement free zones, so don’t worry about other members, because they darn sure won’t be worried about you.
Leave your ego at the door
Although some, slightly grittier and hardcore gyms may have a reputation for being full of huge hulking meat heads, all full of testosterone and trying to show prove their alpha-male status by lifting as much weight as possible, in reality, gyms are not like that at all, so if you plan on joining a gym in an attempt to show off, leave your ego at the door, because it has no place inside the gym.
If you know you have a pretty impressive bench press, that’s great, use that to your advantage, as long as it fits into your routine. If you simply plan on bench pressing just to try and show off in front of your buddies, other gym members, or in front of the girls, you need to nip that in the bud right away, as no good can come of it.
When you lift for ego as opposed to health and functionality, you run the risk of not only making yourself look stupid, but more importantly, of seriously injuring yourself, or others around you perhaps.
Keep things simple
Finally, the last tip which we’ll be looking at today, is something that should come as common knowledge to many of you, yet sadly that is not always the case.
Getting in shape is an incredibly complex procedure, and there are so many sophisticated words and phrases being thrown around that it can seem more like a science experiment than a lifestyle change.
Once you begin picking things up and gaining experience, of course, feel free to look into some of the more complex training protocols, but for the most part, if you’re new to working out in the gym, just remember to keep things simple. Find a program for beginners, and stick to it.
Use simple exercises using weights and machines, stick with standard rep ranges and manageable weights, and make sure your form is perfect at all times. Simplicity is the key to making gains in the gym, so don’t try to get clever, and don’t overcomplicate things.
See our guide to the top gym newbie mistakes here!