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Gym Exercises for Beginners

Entering a gym for the first time can occasionally feel as though you've landed on a new planet. If you're unsure of how to perform even the most basic exercises, don't hang your head. You've come to a place that can transform your physical and mental health, and now it's time to get moving. Familiarizing yourself with the gym's basic forms of exercise allows you to literally walk before you run.

  1. Check the gym's class schedule and sign up for a beginner-level class that sounds appealing. Many gyms have a wide selection of group classes that include yoga, aerobics, step aerobics and dance-style workouts such as Zumba. Joining a class for beginners can help if you feel unsure of how to proceed with your workout. Remember, you're likely not the only gym newbie in the class. As you exercise in a class, you might feel more confident and even find a future workout partner.

  2. Visit the area of the gym that features a number of cardio machines. These machines often include a treadmill, elliptical trainer, rowing machine and stationary bicycle. A basic exercise for beginners is walking on the treadmill. Consult the machine's instructions and begin to walk at a slow pace. Walking on the machine's belt feels different than walking on solid ground, so keep your pace slow until you're comfortable with the feeling. Note how the machine tracks your workout distance and speed, experiment with an increase in the machine's incline when you're ready and familiarize yourself with how to stop the machine in case of emergency. Treadmills and other cardio machines are ideal for helping you burn calories to lose weight. For best results, avoid leaning heavily on the handrails.

  3. Strengthen your body by visiting the gym's weight-training area to learn how to use a weight-training machine. For beginners, machines are a suitable way to exercise without the risk of using dangerous, incorrect form with free weights. Always consult the machine's instructions before use. If you want to build your quads, for example, the lever seated leg press machine provides a suitable challenge. Set your desired weight and sit squarely in the machine. With bent legs, press your feet against the foot panel and straighten your legs to push the panel away and lift the weights. Bend your knees to return to the starting position to finish one rep. Perform three sets of 10 reps of this exercise.

    Tip

    Even if you're keen on making the most of your gym membership, avoid overtraining. A general workout guideline is 150 minutes of medium-paced cardio exercise and two strength-training sessions per week.

    Body-weight exercises and calisthenics are ideal ways to exercise, especially if you're intimidated by exercise equipment. Perform exercises such as pushups, situps, jumping jacks, squats and lunges. These equipment-free exercises are convenient for home workouts, but can help you get comfortable in a gym setting.

    Warning

    Seek the help of a trainer if you're unsure of how to perform a certain exercise. Using the wrong mechanics can lead to injury and curtail your workout progress.

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About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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