So you finally decided to get your lazy behind to the gym. For many of you, the transition from couch potato to a fitness freak will only last for a week or two, tops. As for those of you who are looking for new improved lifestyle, there are some things you need to know.
Get a physical, before you get physical
Don’t forget to consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program. People often underestimate the importance of getting their doctor’s approval. Another important reason to get a physical before you start exercising is to find out if there are any fitness activities you should avoid due to your current condition.
I cannot stress enough how important warming up is. It is important for beginners, intermediate or advanced people. Warming up does prevent injuries and gets your body ready for working out. So it is even more crucial for beginners that have not moved a muscle in a while. The ideal way to warm up is to walk 10-15 minutes on the treadmill. You should know that your body starts burning calories 15-20 minutes after it is warm. So by warming up on a cardio machine, you know you will start the calorie-burning process once you start the weightlifting. Hence, get the most of your routine.
Take it one step at a time
Though exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, many people have a tendency to do too much too soon. Most people, especially those who have been sedentary for too long, forget all about the importance of rest and recovery. It’s like going on a crash diet because it puts your body into shock. You can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions as you become more physically fit.
Don’t hold your breath
While you are exercising, be sure to incorporate proper breathing techniques. This is especially important for weight training. People have a tendency to hold their breath when they are lifting weights. This actually weakens the body; preventing oxygen to enter your brain can lead to more serious problems, including dizziness and blackouts.
Be sure to get instructions
If you joined a gym, you should be entitled to a few introductory sessions with a licensed personal trainer. Your personal trainer will show you how to use the exercise equipment properly. Many times people will end up with an injury that has been building up over time from the repetitive use of improper form. The most common errors I see include: doing an exercise too fast, going beyond the range of motion called for in the exercise and not keeping proper back positioning.
Spice up your routine
The number one reason why people fall off their gym wagon is boredom. It is very easy to get bored of your workout routines; after all they are called ‘routines’. More importantly, sticking to the same old routine will not provide you with the results you want. The human body is designed to adapt to any routine in four to six weeks. Include a variety of sports and exercises in your fitness routine so you can reduce the potential for overtraining.
Stop Exercising If You Experience Severe Pain or Discomfort!
If you experience severe pain, discomfort or swelling during your exercise session, you should immediately stop working out. If any of these conditions persist, see a doctor.
Here’s a combination of effective exercises for all of you beginners out there!
Chest: Dumbbell Chest Press:
- This exercise activates the muscles in the upper, middle and lower chest, as well as the shoulders and triceps.
- In order to complete this exercise, you need to lie on a flat bench with your spine in a neutral position. Now, hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level with your upper arm parallel to the floor and your elbows facing outward.
- Contracting your chest muscles, press both of your arms upward above the chest until they are almost fully extended, with a slight bend in both elbows. Slowly return to the starting position.
- It is important to maintain proper form throughout the movement. When you reach the top of the movement, do not fully lock your elbows.
Back: Cable Wide Over Grip Lat Pull-Down:
- This exercise impacts a number of muscles, including the upper back, the shoulder and the biceps.
- In order to perform this exercise, extend both arms up and reach for the straight bar. Now, sit tall with your knees supported under the leg pad — with knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be a little more than shoulder-width apart, and you should use an overhand grip and keep a slight bend in the elbows. Relax your shoulders and keep your chest raised.
- Contracting the upper back muscles, pull the bar down, leading with your elbows and stopping when the bar is just above your chest. Slowly return to the starting position and stop just short of the weight stack touching.
Shoulders: Dumbbell Alternating Shoulder Press:
- This exercise impacts the entire range of muscles in your shoulders, as well as the biceps and triceps.
- Sit up straight on a bench with your feet comfortably resting on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle with your palms facing forward. When you do this exercise, your hands should be slightly higher than your shoulders.
- Contracting the shoulder muscles, raise one arm toward the ceiling and stop when your arm is fully extended, with a slight bend in the elbow. Slowly return your arm to the starting position. Raise and lower the other arm in the same manner. Alternate the right and left sides in order to complete the set.
Legs: Barbell Close Stance Squat:
- This exercise works the butt, quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thighs and outer thighs.
- Stand tall with your feet closer than shoulder-width apart, with a slight bend in the knees. Place a barbell across your shoulders. Be sure the bar is not resting on your neck.
- Contracting the quadriceps muscles, begin to lower your body by bending from your hips and knees and stopping when your thighs are parallel with the floor. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your knees fully extending. Do not let your knees ride over your toes (you should be able to see your feet at all times).
- This exercise works the front of the legs and the butt. It also works the back of the legs to some degree.
- Stand straight with your feet together. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides. Step forward with the right leg and lower the left leg until the knee almost touches the floor.
- Contract the quadriceps and push off your right foot, slowly returning to the starting position. Alternate the motion with the left leg to complete the set.
Arms: Bench Dips:
- This exercise works the back of the arm, the triceps and the shoulder.
- Using two benches or chairs, sit on one. Place your palms on the bench with your fingers wrapped around the edge. Now, place both feet on the other bench. Slide your upper body off the bench with your elbows nearly but not completely locked. Lower your upper body slowly toward the floor until your elbows are bent slightly more than 90 degrees.
- Contracting your triceps muscles, extend your elbows and return to the starting position, stopping just short of the elbows fully extending.
Dumbbell Double Biceps Curl:
- This exercise works the biceps and part of the shoulder.
- Sit on a bench or chair with both feet in front of your body and keep your back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at each side and your palms facing forward.
- Contracting the biceps muscles, raise the weights toward your shoulders, stopping just short of the weights touching the shoulders. Slowly return to the starting position.
Abs: Double Crunch:
- The reason I like the double crunch is that you are activating the entire abdominal area. The key is to contract tightly at the top part of the movement.
- Lie on the floor with your head facing up. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle, with both feet on the floor. Your back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor. Now place both hands behind your head.
- Contracting your abdominals, raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another. Slowly return to the starting position, stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor.
- Research consistently rates this as one of the most effective abdominal exercises. It works your entire ab region.
- Lie on a mat with your lower back in a comfortable position. Put your hands on either side of your head by your ears. Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle. Slowly go through a bicycle-pedaling motion — alternate your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.
This routine can slowly prep your body for lean and fit results. You can always choose a different routine, as long as you don’t overdo it and start with the lightest weights possible.