Many members go through an overwhelming (but also really exciting) experience when it comes to hitting the gym for the first time! Learning how to use the new equipment, getting acquainted with new faces and a lot more can undoubtedly feel like a lot to take in. But don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone! We know if you’re headed to the gym for the first time you’re eager to get started and learn the ropes, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Firstly, the decision to join a gym is a BIG deal, and so is showing up. Give yourself major props for that victory. We know how busy your life gets, but taking the right steps towards a healthier, happier life is certainly one worth celebrating!
When it comes to exercise, it’s important to have fun, be smart and know your body. We want to make sure you are improving your overall health and fitness all while remaining injury free. On your first day, it’s recommended to keep your speed, weight levels, and workout intervals in a safe zone.
Below are 5 tips to enjoy your workout and avoid injury on your first day at the gym.
1. Proper Warm Up
Warming up for at least 10 minutes before starting the exercise is vital. Walking is an ideal way to warm up before hitting the running rails. Jumping right in and starting the training on your first day can be a great recipe for disaster.
Sure, a warm-up session before hitting the elliptical machine will add a few minutes to your workout routine. However, a proper warm-up will reduce the risk of injury, reduce stress on your heart, and improve your performance. It gets your body set up to endure any aerobic activity and revs up your cardiovascular system by increasing the flow of blood to your muscles and raising the body temperature. It also plays a significant role when it comes to reducing muscle soreness, hence lowering the risk of injury.
2. Hydration & Electrolytes
Water is a non-negotiable necessity as far as working out is concerned. It’s essential to make sure you’re well-hydrated before hitting the gym because your body perspires as it heats up during a workout and needs water to help cool it down.
Don’t depend on thirst alone to determine how much hydration your body needs. It’s imperative to take plenty of liquids to avoid fatigue and to keep muscles working normally. As a general rule of thumb, drink 4-6 ounces of water before, during, and after exercise to keep your muscles hydrated.
It’s also worth noting that when you sweat, it’s not only water that you lose but also electrolytes. These are essential minerals that help transfer fluids to the cells which require them. Electrolytes – which include sodium, potassium and magnesium – are crucial in maintaining muscle health and brain function.
3. Don’t Go Too Intense or Too Heavy (Injury Occurs During Fatigue)
You may feel that the go-to gym exercise is weight lifting and strength training, but lifting weights that are too heavy for you can cause fatigue, which leads to injury. Exercising at the gym should be a slow and steady process intended to help build bigger muscles, stronger bones, and increased strength.
The key to lifting weights the proper way is to focus on form, not weight. This involves aligning your body properly and moving smoothly through every workout.
Poor form can result in injuries and slow workout results. As a beginner, you might want to start with no weight or very little weight. Perform only 3-4 exercises your first day at the gym if you need a sustainable experience. By doing so, you won’t feel overly sore, and your recovery process will be expeditious.
When starting, concentrate on slow and smooth lifts as you develop a perfect form to lift heavier weights. Also, try to maintain the right tempo to help you stay in control and to avoid compromising strength gains. For instance, you might want to count to three when lowering a weight, then relax, and then count to three again when raising it to the initial position.
4. Pre Workout Snack & Post Workout Meal
Don’t go to the gym on an empty stomach expecting to use heavy weights.. A pre-workout snack is critical when it comes to achieving the best strength training effectiveness. It’s essential to tailor your pre-workout snack based on your exercise needs. Generally, an excellent pre-workout meal should be a balanced diet. It should consist of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Pre-workout snacks equally reduce the breakdown of muscle protein, which means that muscle growth only occurs when the production of protein surpasses its breakdown.
After exercising, you must also replenish your muscles with proper nutrients. The best course of action is to eat a high-protein meal or take a quality protein supplement. The National Strength & Conditioning Association generally recommends 1-2 grams of protein after every workout.
5. Proper Cool Down
When done correctly, a proper cool down after a workout allows your body to recover from an elevated, post-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. Cooling down is all about continuing movement for a few minutes after exercise, but at a reduced intensity. For example, you can walk for 5-10 minutes or swim some laid-back laps for 5-10 minutes to cool down. These exercises give your muscles some time off to recover in preparation for your next workout.