By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
The past two weeks we have discussed how to go about starting a gym routine and getting familiar with the environment. This week we will finish with what you should be doing in the gym to reach your goals. Remember when I had you ask yourself, “what are my goals and how can the gym help me reach them?” Keep those in mind as you read on…
Starting any workout routine with a warm-up is critical, especially if you will be hitting the weights. A simple warm-up should usually average at about 10-15 minutes and consist of low-intensity cardio with preferably some light or dynamic stretching that gets your muscles warm and ready for the workout ahead. Beware of stretching while your still cold or over-stretching as it might lead to injury.
Cardio and Weights
Both cardiovascular activities and weight-lifting are beneficial, especially if you take part in both, but of course, it depends on your goals. For beginners, I recommend 20-30 minutes of low to medium intensity cardio followed by 20-30 minutes of weight lifting. Starting with 2-3 visits per week is an awesome start and eventually you will find that balance where you might be able to increase the frequency and length of your visits with time. Note that cardio is critical for your overall health and is more beneficial to your brain and heart than weight-lifting, in most cases.
To start, I recommend you re-locate the cardio machines and start finding your flow. Go for a simple machine such as the treadmill (to speed walk), the elliptical or the cardio wave and gradually build your endurance with time. Aim for a machine or exercise that activates and engages your entire body. If you need more guidance with the cardio machines, try one of the beginner programmes provided on the screen. Now if you have the option to do your cardio outdoors, definitely try that out as I personally love warming up in fresh air.
Now you are ready to hit the weights. To start, I suggest working on your full body and not worrying about focusing on specific muscles. It is too early to start focusing on muscle groups when you are still starting to understand your body, your goals and how to achieve them. Firstly, keep in mind that most current stationary weight-lifting machines have infographics that display and explain how to be used. Do not be embarrassed or shy to look and read them all to get a better understanding. Everyone started by learning, now it’s your turn. This is why I recommend using these machines as a beginner opposed to free weights. When it comes to free weights, there are no infographics, you need to thoroughly follow proper form and technique to prevent any injury and you might not have the best balance to support yourself.
Did you know that deciding your weight and reps for each exercise is based on your goals? If you want to maintain or reduce your muscle mass and work on toning and endurance, go for low weights with high reps (15-25). If you want to build muscle mass and increase your strength, then go for higher weights and less reps (3-10). You can even do a combination of both ranges to custom create your own programme depending on your specific body goals.
The Do’s and Don’ts
Everyone’s body is different, everyone’s goals are different; there is no one-size fits all when it comes to gyming or working out. Everyone’s results are different as it depends on many factors such as genes, mental strength, self-discipline, age and diet. Listen to your body and do not compare yourself to others. Do not over do-it and do not rush. Focus on yourself and make sure to follow the right safety measures including the best form and technique. Use mirrors to watch your movements and ask gym buddies or gym staff to spot. And last but not least, do not forget to drink water continuously, to stretch after your workout and to appreciate yourself for a job well-done once you’re done!
Always remind yourself of your goals and why you have chosen to get active and why you are trying out the gym. The gym may not be the right fit for you and you might want to try other types of workouts such as fitness programmes or instructional training such as HIIT, Zumba or functional training among others to find the right fit for you, but most importantly do not get frustrated if you haven’t found your favourite. Keep in mind that you are at least trying something, which is better than nothing!
* The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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