Bodybuilding nowadays is more popular than ever and hundreds of thousands of people go the gym every day. If you’re looking to become one of them, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips to help you get through your first week at the gym.
It is of utmost importance to be well-prepared before your first visit. This includes: having the right clothing, getting some gym accessories which are not absolutely necessary, but are still good to have, and having set the time aside for a good workout (usually about 1-2 hours). Also it is very important to have the right mindset for it.
The right fitness clothes are clothes that permit a wide range of motion and that are of good quality and allow the body to cool down. Because a regular workout can make you really sweaty and hot, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while. The right fitness clothing usually includes a nice T-shirt, tank top or a fitness sweater as well as shorts or trousers for men and T-shirts, tank tops or sleeveless shirts, sports bras for women as well as some shorts, leggings or trousers. It doesn’t matter which brand, as long as you’re feeling comfortable in them and they don’t sweat you up too much.
When it comes to shoes be sure to buy good quality trainers or sneakers with a high sole, ergonomic design and with little holes that let the air pass through. It is also a good idea to have a pair of fitness gloves with nice palm padding and straps that support your wrists. You can do without gloves for the first couple of months, but when weights get heavier you’re going to find them very useful.
The most important gym accessories are a water bottle with volume of at least 1L and a nice towel. You’re going to get really sweaty in the beginning, and you will need to rehydrate. Another useful accessory is a smart watch, which can measure heart rate and blood pressure. Also you might want to have a smartphone holder and wireless headphones, if you plan on listening to music while training.
Before going to the gym
Make sure that you have had at least a small snack 2-3 hours before going to the gym. Blood sugar levels must not be too low or too high when you’re exercising. I usually eat a banana and some yoghurt 1 hour before I go to the gym. You don’t want your stomach to be full though, because you risk getting nauseous. Staying hydrated is crucial to a good workout. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and during workouts. You could also drink isotonic drinks that have electrolytes and give you energy, but I don’t really recommend it.
Also make sure you have had plenty of sleep the night before and that you have at least 2 hours free. Having a stress-free workout is much more effective than rushing everything for 30 minutes and not even stopping for breaks.
At the gym
Before you begin exercise: WARMUP!!! You need to stretch your body and warm up the muscles. Get that blood pumping. Do simple stretches to your arms and legs. You could even do some treadmill running to warm up.
For your first two weeks I would recommend a full body workout. I believe that it is much better to tone you muscles before you begin the growth process. A 45-60 minute full-body workout will do just fine and you will feel really sore the next day.
You can try this one and add a little bit of variety later. If you find it too difficult or too easy, feel free to adjust the sets and reps so that you can get the most out of your time at the gym.
60 MINUTE FULL BODY WORKOUT
Sets Reps Exercise
3 8-12 Barbell bench press
3 4-5 Pull-ups
3 8-10 Barbell squats
4 8-10 Seated lat pulldown
4 10 Inclined dumbbell bench press
4 10 Triceps rope pushdown
You could also add or swap with:
4 10 Biceps curls with dumbbells
3 8-12 Deadlift
3 8-10 Standing overhead press (shoulder press)
Some pushups and crunches
15 minutes of cardio
This is already a huge volume of exercise and if you do it correctly and thoroughly, you will see huge results. Many intermediate and advanced gym goers still do these workouts to tone their muscles and to increase their stamina. You will definitely find it difficult at first, but once you get used to it, you will be ready for even heavier workouts and you will be able to lift heavier weights.
After the first two-three weeks you will have gained some muscle and your body will have adjusted to the stress, so you can split these exercises into groups and do each group on a different day. By doing this, you allow your muscles to rest and to recover. Remember that you don’t need to go to the gym every day. Three days or four days a week is sufficient for a good muscle growth and if you feel like it, you could go five days and do only cardio on the fifth day.
Make sure you do all exercises correctly and thoroughly, in order to avoid trauma or injuries. If you’re a first timer, I would recommend that you ask the trainer for instructions on how to use each machine or to watch over you, while you exercise.
When you take short breaks, always remember to rehydrate and to rest. However, don’t take too long and don’t procrastinate. This may lead to lesser results and to loss of motivation. The most important thing during the first few weeks is to stay motivated and to be happy with the results, no matter how great.
So that’s all there is to going to the gym when you’re just starting. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. Thank you so much for reading! I’ll try to post regularly, so stay tuned. J