You’ve most likely, at one point in the fairly recent past, thought to yourself:
“I really should be going to the gym more often.”
You even decide to bite the bullet and sign up for a membership.
You break out your hoodie and sweatpants, dust off your sneakers, and walk through the door…only to realize you don’t really have any idea where to start.
You know you should be going to the gym, but you don’t know what to do now that you’re actually there.
Before you start working toward some arbitrary goal just because you feel like you should, think about what it is you hope to accomplish in this new venture.
Perhaps the most common reason people join a gym is they realize they’ve gained way too much weight over the years.
If this is the case, you will want to perform exercises that are specifically intended to help you trim your excess fat stored away throughout your body.
This is definitely not something that can be done at a leisurely pace.
You’ll eventually want to check out some of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) methods available, and see which one best suits your needs. But before you dive into such an intense regimen, get a feel for what your body is ready for. Once you have a baseline for your abilities, get ready to push yourself to the max if you want to lose the excess weight you’ve been carrying around.
On the other hand, maybe you want to actually gain weight.
Of course, there’s a difference between gaining weight by eating a dozen donuts every day and by lifting weights (Hint: One is much healthier for you).
When you gain weight in the form of muscles, you’re really replacing fatty tissue with muscle mass. Though you may have heard people say “muscle weighs more than fat,” what they mean is muscle is denser. In other words, 200 pounds of muscle weighs the same as 200 pounds of fat – but a muscular body is much more trim and lean.
At any rate, you want to avoid isometric exercises that only strengthen one area of your body. If you’re aiming to gain weight, you should focus on compound exercises such as squats and bench presses that work core muscles in various capacities.
And, of course, never, ever, skip leg day.
Perhaps you realized you needed to hit the gym after you ran up a flight of stairs and needed to stop halfway to catch your breath.
Building stamina actually goes hand-in-hand with losing weight, so you should follow most of the same guidelines mentioned above.
One of the most important things to focus on when building stamina is to avoid routine. If you’re just going through the motions and barely breaking a sweat, you’re not pushing your body to its fullest potential. As long as you’re able to push harder, you should be.
Maintenance and Rehab
Perhaps the only time you shouldn’t push yourself as hard as possible is when you’re rehabilitating your body after an injury. During this time, your focus should be on getting back to baseline and maintaining a steady regimen.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to enlist the help of a physical or occupational therapist to help you get back to your normally-functioning self. These specialists know the best path to take on your road to recovery, so it’s best to consult with them after sustaining an injury before you start working out again. You don’t want to risk re-injuring yourself and spending even more time laid up on the couch.
After successfully rehabilitating an injury, don’t just stop working out. Take a look at other improvements you could make to your body, and make the moves you promised yourself you would after you hurt yourself in the first place.