New to the gym, and not sure where to start? You’re not alone — getting to the top of your game begins with that first step in new running shoes. If fitness is unfamiliar territory, you don’t need to be intimidated; follow these six tips, and get on the fast track to a steady workout routine in no time.
Don't go too hard too soon
It’s easy to get excited about exercising, but if you're new to the gym or returning after a long hiatus, there are ample opportunities to injure yourself by going too quickly. Muscle memory is one thing, but getting into the groove of a new exercise routine isn't going to happen overnight.
By that same token, don't beat yourself up for going slow. Every time you work out, you’re making progress that you're just might not be seeing yet. Give yourself some credit and work at a pace that makes sense for your body.
Make sure you stretch before and after exercising
Before a workout, dynamic stretching — moving activities like walking lunges, bending and reaching, and squats — are what’s best for your body. But you also need to follow up with stretches post-workout, to receive muscle tension and improve blood flow. The quicker you recover after exercising, the more prepared you’ll be to hit the gym again.
Master the basics
If you're intimidated by weights and machines, start out slow with some simple body exercises. Practicing squats, lunges, lifts, and holds at home and at the gym is a great way to get a leg-up on your new exercise routine and effectively working out some key target muscle groups. They're also good opportunities to practice form and get familiar with your bodies limits before hitting the gym.
Learn what good form looks like
It’s always important to get to know the right form for every exercise, especially when it comes to weights. Bad form often comes from trying to bite off more than you can chew. That’s why respecting your own pace is so integral to developing a comprehensive fit lifestyle. By starting slow and building, you're teaching your body how to handle the challenge. That means that when it comes time for heavy duty exercises, you’ll take to it quicker and see progress sooner.
Finish what you start
Workout plans are designed to be difficult, but they succeed by allowing you to push your limits in healthy ways. Unless you think it will seriously hurt you, it’s better to complete your reps before moving on to the next exercise. Otherwise, you're simply not getting the full benefit of the workout. Push yourself not to sell yourself short, and your body will thank you for it.
Working out with a partner can be a real asset to fitness beginners. Whether you hit the gym with an old friend, a coworker, or your partner, sharing workout goals with a fitness buddy allows you to build off each other’s energy and match each other’s pace. Buddying up at the gym is a great way to ease yourself into an otherwise unfamiliar experience.