You’ve lived your younger years with a fast metabolism, now some extra pounds are starting to add up and you don’t like how your body looks any longer – it’s time to go to the gym. Simple enough, right? Maybe not. The biggest fear of some is gaining the courage to step into the gym.
Walking Into The Gym
You research some local gyms, looking for the best price because you want to make sure the investment is worth it. The next day or so, you step into the gym and they inform you that your first week is free (in most cases). Perfect! Now it’s time to get some sweat rolling. You see people are not talking to each other as much as you might’ve imagined, most having headphones in. The gym seems a little scary. How do they know what to do? The question then hits you like a ton of bricks, what do I do? You remember some exercises from gym class, but you don’t want to look foolish.
The Beginner Exercises
The first thing that you want to do after you get into your gym clothes and walk into the gym is stretch. Once you’re done stretching, stretch some more. You do not want to be so miserably sore the next day that you’re discouraged to go back. While there are noticeable differences between static stretching vs. dynamic stretching, as a beginner you should not need to worry about that. After you’re done stretching its time to begin your workout.
Begin your post-stretch workout with some cardio. You have a few options here. Most gyms offer different pieces of equipment. Your choices can range from a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, spin bike, airdyne, recumbent bike, stair stepper, rower, etc. I would recommend starting out on the treadmill. It’s the most natural feeling piece of equipment. Start off at a slow place, increasing every so often (1 minute or so). When you’re about 2 minutes away from the end, you want to begin declining your speed; this will lower your heart rate. I would suggest 10 minutes to start out at a decent speed.
Beginning your first few weeks you’ll want to train your whole body. During this time, you should stick to a schedule of every other day, for three workouts during the week. I would recommend Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This will allow Tuesday, Thursday and the weekend to be recovery days and relieve soreness. I would recommend a rotation of a pyramid repetition set (12/10/8) and a reverse pyramid repetition set (8/10/12) for three sets. Increase the weight when doing less reps. The weight used for your 8 rep set should not be the same for the 12 rep set. The exercises listed below should be learned during the first week because they will be used for as long as you go to the gym. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned gym rat, you will still use these exercises.
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown (Back)
This exercise will strengthen the back muscles. At a pulldown machine you sit facing the stack using a wide grip on a straight bar. You lean back a few degrees and pulldown until you nearly touch the top of you chest. Repeat for 3 sets.
Dumbbell Curls (Biceps)
Standing upright with your arms extended towards the ground holding the dumbbell, curl the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Alternate each arm. Try not to use your back when curling. Repeat.
Bench Press [Bar or Dumbbell] (Chest)
Lying on your back, extend your arms in front of you (towards the ceiling). Come down with the bar or dumbbell until you almost touch your chest and extend upwards in a pressing motion. Keep back flat on bench. Repeat.
Straight Bar Push Down (Tricep)
Standing upright at the stack, begin the exercise when your forearms are parallel to the ground. Push down until you almost touch your thighs. Come back up controlling the rep, stop at 90 degrees and push back down. Keep elbows in. Repeat.
Squats [Bar or Dumbbell] (Legs)
Begin with your feet a little wider than your shoulders. Turn your feet a little outward and squat down going as low as you can go with the bar or dumbbells above your shoulders. Keep back straight. Repeat.
Dumbbell Press (Shoulders)
Sitting on an upright bench, begins with the dumbbells next to your ears with your arms at a 90-degree bend upwards. Press the dumbbells upward toward the ceiling. Come back down to the same position. Keep your back against the bench. Repeat.
After you go through your exercise workout, go back to cardio. This is your chance to use a different cardio machine, such as the stationary bike. The use of cardio before and after is a good way to warm up and cool down. Also, it will aid in weight loss. I would suggest 10 minutes of cardio, with a 2 minute cool down to bring your heart rate down.
Seasoned Gym Goer
Use these exercises until you’re ready to move on to more advanced methods of lifting / working out. I would recommend a split body part day lifting schedule after a few weeks. This will promote more recovery and growth for certain body parts, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Start with these exercises and don’t give up! If you want to take it a step further, look into supplementing your training with Primed Capacity!