Step-by-Step Guide for Exercising in a Gym
Exercising in a gym doesn’t have to be the scary thing that you push to the end of your to-do list. Start by establishing your single most important reason for working out to keep yourself motivated. Aim to exercise three to five days a week for 30 to 90 minutes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, that would equate to a minimum of two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.
Request a tour of the gym with a fitness professional. Ensure that you are aware of the proper use of the equipment. This will expedite the ease of your workouts and eliminate your risk for injury. Ask the fitness professional about the weight settings and number of repetitions that would be appropriate for your goals and fitness level. Address all safety protocols assigned to each machine including seat positioning, hand placement and general form.
Warm up with a five- to 10-minute walk on a treadmill at a level-two incline at a speed setting of three or four. If a treadmill is inaccessible due to an injury or unavailability in the gym, use a stationary bike or elliptical trainer at a low intensity for the same time. The American Council on Exercise says warming up prior to exercise increases blood flow to working muscles and raises your body temperature. Both limit potential for injuries and help your body to adjust to the increased workload.
Work your larger muscle groups like your chest, back, quadriceps and hamstrings first. Smaller muscle groups assist in working larger muscle groups. Working the smaller groups first would cause fatigue and limit the efficiency of the larger muscle groups. Perform a large muscle-group exercise using a seated chest press machine. Set the handles so that your hands start and end at chest-level. Exhale and press straight forward while keeping your abs contracted. Inhale on the return to the starting position. Complete 12 to 16 repetitions for three sets.
Smaller muscle groups are the biceps, triceps, abductors and adductors. Grab a set of free weights for bicep curls and hold each one by your side. Inhale and curl your weights up toward your shoulders with your palms facing up. Exhale and slowly release your arms back to your sides. Do 12 to 16 repetitions for three sets.
Balance your strengths with exercises focusing on opposing muscle groups. After working your chest, work your back. After performing biceps curls, work your triceps. Imbalances lead to chronic overuse injuries, spinal issues and even digestive problems due to poor posture.
Seek professional guidance before starting any workout program. Feeling comfortable and safe in a gym is vital to making exercising a permanent lifestyle change.
Lisa Payne began personal training while getting her Master of Fine Arts in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She writes for "Today’s Chicago Woman: magazine, CheekyChicago.com and PaynefullyFit.com. She is also an adjunct professor, TV personality and brand ambassador for LARABAR and Kate Hudson's athletic company Fabletics.