If you’re someone who is thinking of hitting the gym but don’t know how to start, then keep reading because I have some tips for you that will lay the foundation of a proper gym goer.
Face it; you’re about to embark on a journey that will require time, effort, organisation, time management, sacrifices and changes in your daily life. I’ll do you a big favour and be fully honest with you. It’s going to be hard and daunting at times. Especially in the beginning.
That’s why it’s worth it.
The reason it’s worth it despite it being hard and daunting, I’ll leave for another blog post.
Think about the phrase mindset. What does it mean? Well… It simply means the action of setting your mind. OK, but how do you do that? Change the conversations you are having with yourself.
It takes practice and acceptance of your new YOU. Realise that when it gets hard (it will) the best weapon you have in your arsenal is your mindset.
How are you going to use it? Are you going to feel sorry about yourself and find excuses for why you ate that cake or why you didn’t go to the gym? That’s what most people do. You need to BECOME different. That happens through changing the conversation you have with yourself.
Be hard on yourself. Most of the time… of course, if you’ve slept for 2-3 hours, you don’t want to do a hard workout. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?
Now the best thing you can do is, find a purpose in your training, a purpose that is beyond your aesthetic reasons because if you do everything right consistently over and over again, you’ll eventually reach your dream body and then WHAT?
What normally happens with people who reach their dreams like a certain profession or a house, they fall into a big hole of depression. Why? Because they have nothing to look forward to, nothing to work for, nothing to dream about... and the easiest thing to do in a situation like this is to reach for quick fixes like: alcohol, drugs, etc. things that give you a quick solution to the problems, quick feel-good hormones. But everything has a price. And the day after drugs or alcohol consumption is a pretty good indication of whether this is the right fix.
So, my advice is to set your mind, that your fitness endeavours will continue FOREVER.
Whatever happens, just keep going and keep finding new horizons, because once you’ve built the momentum of being consistent and start to see results, the agony of the beginner will settle down and the sun will start shining in your garden as well. The feeling is irreplaceable.
2. DON’T BE GREEDY
I know you can’t wait to see results, but the best thing to do is take your time. It will take a while until you begin to see them. One of the biggest mistake people do is hit the gym VERY hard.
This can bring you some quick gains, but as you may remember from the lines above, everything has a price, so hitting the gym hard may bring you quick results, but it is accompanied with a high risk of injury and metabolism disturbances.
What should you do to avoid that?
There are a few things to consider:
- Warm up properly.
Forget all the conventional ways of warming up. Don’t do any treadmills or cross trainers (waste of time). What you want to do instead is build a solid mobility routine.
Remember that most injuries happen at the joint level. So, guess what…? Warm up your joints properly with circular movements that will bring blood flow to your tendons and ligaments (unlike the musculoskeletal system, the connective tissue haven’t got their own blood supply)
Which means you have to bring it yourself.
It may be worth checking out my free mobility routine here.
- Intensity and volume regulation.
When it comes to actual training, greediness can be expressed in working out to your limits every time. Wrong.
You need to be very conscious about your choice of exercises, intensity and volume.
The exercises you pick can vary depending on how often you work out, your fitness level etc.
My advice is to combine bodyweight with weight training and remember to keep tension in your muscles, perform the exercises slowly with control and breathe properly.
The volume represents the number of sets and repetitions you do in a workout or a cycle of the training programme. My advice here is AGAIN :) start low. Focus on keeping a range of between 2 - 4 sets per exercise and build up from there.
The intensity is how hard your workout is, or how hard you push yourself in short.
Here you need to make sure that you watch out for the so-called lactic acid. This is literally the burning sensation you get while exercising. Do not continue pushing when you’re feeling the lactic acid in your muscles. Not at least in the beginning. Use it as a point of reference for sufficient workload.
3. GET A REAL REST
The reason I say ‘real rest’ is because most people recover by laying on the sofa or sitting on the coach. Maybe there is a time when you can allow yourself to do this, but it should be a rare occasion. Why? Because in order for your muscles to recover they need blood flow. By laying on the sofa your blood flow decreases, and your muscles wouldn’t recover effectively.
Solution? Stretching. Why would you sit on the coach if you can get down on the floor and stretch out your muscles?
I have good news for you. If you do a full-body stretch while watching TV in the evening, this will help with your muscles’ flexibility, your muscles’ recovery and your restoring processes that happen during sleep. So, you get quite a few benefits from doing it… Let me tell you one more thing – since I started doing this, everything’s different – my sleep, my recovery and my mental and physical performance as well. It’s a game changer.
Another game-changing piece of advice on recovery would be to pay attention to your sleep hygiene. Start with the basics and make sure it’s pitch black in your room. I personally use a sleeping mask and find it pretty effective. Apparently for us to fall asleep, we need a smooth secretion of the hormone melatonin. If the secretion is interrupted, normally by blue light which comes from mobile devices and TV, your sleep will be poorer, and as a consequence, your day will be more stressful, which leads to poor performance at work, poor relationships with colleagues and family because you will be snappier and more irritable. It will also interrupt your physical performance in the gym and your results. It’s the butterfly effect – one thing leads to a chain reaction.
In short, these are the essentials you need to be ready for before you bring yourself to the gym floor.