Working out at the gym is a great way to build muscle strength and endurance, but not everyone who sweats it out at the gym is getting their money’s worth.
Put your time and money to good use and make the most of your workouts using these tips.
Ask for Help
You might think fitness trainers at the gym are going to make sure you’re “getting it in” the right way, but they typically take a hands-off approach to their interaction with club patrons. To avoid seeming rude, they’ll only correct your technique if they feel that you’re about to injure yourself.
So unless you ask for help, you’re pretty much on your own and you may never know how off your technique is. Exercising long and wrong isn’t effective at all, so don’t hesitate to ask for help to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck the next time to hit the gym.
Strength Training Comes First
At the start of an exercise program, don’t start with aerobics classes or another cardio workout. Instead, start with strength training (using weights or resistance tubing). If you do cardio first, you’ll probably struggle to keep up, since your muscles, ligaments and bones aren’t yet strong enough to take the punishment. So you should start with a couple of weeks of strictly strength training, so that aerobic activity is more enjoyable later.
Don’t Be Afraid of a Challenge
Pain is not a requirement to make fitness gains. If you want to see noticeable improvements in your strength and stamina, you’ve got to be willing to push yourself a little. A general rule of thumb when it comes to the amount of weight per person is that you should be able to lift a given weight only 8 to 10 times before your muscles become so fatigued that you must rest. Sharp pain is a definite signal to stop exercising immediately, since it could indicate a joint problem. If you have medical concerns, your doctor should be consulted before beginning an exercise regime.
Work Both Sides of Your Body
People tend to be stronger on one side of their body, due to subconsciously working that side out more by habit. With exercises that involve both legs, for example, a person may do 12 lifts on one side and then only 10 on the other, maybe without even realizing they’re doing this. So it’s a good idea to stay aware during exercise and count aloud to ensure proportional exercise to the entire body.
During strength training, because of the great exertion of energy, people tend to hold their breaths. This can be hazardous, however, especially if a person is suffering from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or glaucoma – due to excessive pressure in the chest and abdomen. Instead, exhale as you lift each weight and inhale as you lower the weight. Remember to count to keep your rhythm going.
You lose a lot of fluids during exercise due to perspiration, so you should drink water during exercise but also after exercise even if you’re not thirsty to ensure that you remain fully hydrated. Hydration also helps with the healing and recovery process after exercising as a result of torn or stretched ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Get a Workout Buddy
Having someone to talk to, compare notes with and help push you along makes those minutes fly by during exercise. It will also keep you accountable, so that you’re more likely to keep your gym schedule knowing you have someone waiting for you.
Record Your Progress
Measuring your success is a huge motivator that can help you push harder and keep going when you feel like giving up. You’ll also know better what works and what doesn’t.