Most people show up to the gym, do a few weights, and then go home without any intention of returning day after day, week after week. And that’s a shame. People who stick to their gym schedule long-term often achieve epic results, many of which last them a lifetime.
The trick here is to go in prepared. You want to be thinking long-term, not just about the next session. Nailing the gym and getting everything right means taking the correct approach. If you make mistakes early on, they can impact your willingness or ability to keep going to the gym at later dates.
So what, exactly, should you be doing to get ready for a long stint of hardcore workouts? Let’s take a look.
Research How To Do The Exercises
You want to start by researching how to do particular exercises and the order in which you should do them. Many people show up to the gym without any idea of technique or form and wind up injuring themselves. They pull a shoulder ligament or put their back out. It’s not pretty.
That’s why it pays to watch videos online of all the exercises you want to do. See how the pros perform them so you can get a good idea of what you need to do as well.
Get A Trainer
Next, you’ll want a professional trainer to spot you and make sure that you’ve got the movement right. Even if it seems boring and dull having to go through the motions over and over, it is much better to get them right early on than to practice poor form and improper technique for the rest of your life.
You’ll want at least two weeks of consistent training to cover all the basics. Your trainer can tell you if you are making mistakes in your form and show you how to correct them.
Don’t rush into the gym and try to start lifting the heaviest weights immediately. Your body won’t appreciate that. Instead, build yourself up to it gradually. If you worked out before but haven’t trained for a while, don’t expect a personal best. Just go into the first session with moderate resistance in mind. If you go too heavy, you’ll puff yourself out and put your body at risk of injury. Remember, it takes a long time for muscles to adapt to a new regime.
Start Your Workouts With Flexibility Training
Working out for a year strengthens muscles, but it also causes them to contract. Therefore, you may find that you have flexibility issues as you progress.
To counter this, start each training session with stretching exercises. Alternatively, include yoga in your daily routine. The more you can work on joint mobility while you train, the better.
Don’t Forget Cardio
The best way to get cardio into your workouts is to cycle to and from the gym. Spending 20 minutes on a treadmill is a bore, but cycling down local cycle lanes can be a lot of fun.
If you really care about cardio, try including HIIT classes in your regimen. These have a big effect on your overall fitness levels and they can, in some cases, keep you younger for longer.
Don’t do high-intensity circuits from the start, though. You’ll want to spend a few months getting your body used to the gym again if you are returning after a long break. Rushing into challenging cardiovascular exercise can be dangerous.
Set Smart Goals
Getting back into the gym is less a sprint and more of a marathon. Nothing much will happen in the space of two weeks. However, if you keep returning, week after week, then the effects will slowly but surely show up in your body.
Therefore, you’ll want to set smart goals. In the short term, focus your goals on things you can actually control, such as how many times you go to the gym and the number of reps you perform. Then, as you get into it, think of longer-term goals, such as gaining a certain percentage of muscle mass.
Sort Out Your Wardrobe
The clothes you wear to the gym can influence the success of your workouts. If you make the right choices, you can actually go a long way. But if you get them wrong, it can damage your experience significantly.
Going to top brands, like Adidas, is generally a good idea. They tend to have the best research and development and make the right apparel. Cheaper or generic clothing often lacks mobility or the ability to wick sweat away from your body. And that can discourage you from going to the next training session.
Be A Little Bit Active On Your “Off Days”
You can’t train in the gym every day. The human body simply can’t handle it. However, you’ll want to remain a little bit active, even if you’re not hitting the gym. Things like walking, yoga, and breathwork can really help you with your fitness goals.
Of course, you still want to get plenty of rest and sleep. That’s when your body builds new tissue and helps you become fitter.
Don’t Push To The Limit In Every Session
Research shows that pushing yourself to the limit in every session doesn’t actually work. That’s one of the reasons why pro athletes and bodybuilders always leave something in the tank. What matters is stimulation, not effort.
We’re used to the idea that the more effort we put in, the better results we will get. But the body doesn’t work like that. It’s an adaptation machine, so it will only change if it perceives that it is optimal to do so. If you push too hard, too early, you’ll notice that your gains falter.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
Lastly, remind yourself every day that there will be times when you don’t feel like going to the gym. You’ll struggle to get the motivation to crawl out of bed, put on your gym clothes and get out of the house.
If you feel like this, remind yourself that it’s normal. Just showing up is often half the battle won.