Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Taking the first step to exercise is never easy. But it is this uneasiness that makes the progress more rewarding. If you are about to embark on your fitness journey, or already deep into working out and you want to find out more considerations when getting started at the gym, here are some tips that our personal trainers have put together for you!
1. Warm up before working out
Exercising in the gym, or anywhere else, should always be accompanied by warmups first. There is an imperative need to get your body fired up, blood flowing, allow your joints to properly adjust to the motion of exercise, reduce stiffness and most importantly, reduce the risk of injury. At the gym, there are two steps to warming up before heading for your sets and reps.
Firstly, dynamic warmups that include stretching and lighter weighted movements are recommended. While traditional static stretching helps with flexibility, that stretch and hold movement is not recommended for warmup before a workout. Dynamic stretches involves moving your body through a range of motion within your own capabilities that creates that tension on your body, allowing you to feel the muscles firing up and preparing you specifically for the movement.
Examples of dynamic stretches you can try are Arm circles, Horizontal arm swings, Heel-to-toe walk, Hip circles, Step up and over (squats variation). Weighted movements include dumbbell shoulder extension, cable shoulder extension, warm up sets (aligned to your work out prior to the working sets).
There are not enough words to suggest how important warming up before working out is. Apart from the above benefits, the general feel of warming up will allow you to execute your working sets much more comfortably, with an improved posture and increased range of motion.
2. Have a workout game plan ahead of time
Another tip to enhance your workout experience at the gym is to prepare and plan ahead. Everyone, not just beginners, should have a game plan all set before stepping foot in the gym. Most frequent gym-goers tend to have a consistent workout regime effortlessly planned. Having a consistent routine can sound boring at times, but it significantly saves you time at the gym and most importantly, you’ll have a better and efficient workout each time you hit the gym.
A workout regime should minimally break down the body part you intend to work on, making sure the body part(s) have your full attention. If you know your gym well, you will come to know what equipment are available there. This can allow better optimisation and detailed planning on the workout regime. Imagine going to a workout without a plan in mind, you will need to make decisions on the equipment to use, where to start from, the execution of workout might be compromised with what is on your mind. An example of a simple yet concise workout regime can be seen in the above photo. The workout regime is broken down into 4 different main body parts: chest, legs, shoulders, and back. It is planned to specifically save time on remembering what equipment to look out for and shifts the focus more on the workout itself.
A detailed workout regime will allow you to be more disciplined and this helps by creating a habit of planning ahead. Taking charge of your own gym session and completing the workout planned helps to instil a sense of accomplishment which will tide you through every other session moving forward.
3. Ensure that you have adequate nutrition
Not having adequate nutrition in your body before working out is like driving a vehicle without fuel. You are basically punishing yourself by not having enough energy to maximise your workout session and the lack of focus may result in possible injury.
Always hydrate yourself at least an hour before working out, and have a light snack, ideally a healthy carbohydrate option to complement the workout. Few options are whole-grain cereals, fat-free yogurt, brown rice, or even fruits can be a good alternative as well. Some avoid high protein intake before working out as it requires more energy and time to digest in your stomach, compromising the oxygen and blood needed to flow into your muscles instead of your stomach. The key here is to consume easy to digest food, so you get the energy you need for the workout!
During workout, it is common to be sweating profusely as you give your all. Remember to have ample liquid intake, especially isotonic drinks when your workout involves cardio-related activities. If not, water is good as well to keep you hydrated.
Lastly, the post-workout refuels. The general suggestion is to consume a bigger portion of protein and carbohydrate after your workout so that your body can use these nutrients to aid muscle recovery and growth. It is also important to stay hydrated as much as possible as your body requires fluid to function optimally.
The tips above are a generic nutritional consumption guideline recommended for you to consider and try out. As different individuals have different fitness goals and body needs, seeking a professional personal trainer to guide you would be the most suitable choice if you are still not confident.
4. Know the importance of compound exercises
Common avoidance when beginners start to workout at the gym alone are compound exercises. Compound exercises consist of exercises that work on multiple muscle groups at the same time. An example would be squats. A standard squat is compound exercise that works your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Other compound exercises include deadlift, overhead press, and bench press. By incorporating compound exercises in your workout regime, you will be effectively burning more calories, train your secondary muscle groups, and improve strength and muscle hypertrophy too.
Walking over to the platform might feel intimidating, especially when you are at the gym alone and everyone else looks intimidating as they much bigger than you are. Another option recommended would be to use the smith machine, which is an assistance equipment that allows users to perform a wide range of exercises, including compound exercises! Remember this, everyone starts somewhere, and you are no different than the person beside you! Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need help with your posture or spot you while you perform compound exercises. Our friendly personal trainers would always have your back!
5. Avoid overtraining
Exercising has so many benefits attached to it, you feel better about yourself, more energetic, feel stronger and boost your mood. Once you start, it can get really addictive as you progress further. However, like everything else in life, there is a need for moderation. Exercising too hard and overtraining yourself has its downfall. Firstly, too much physical training can be detrimental to your muscles, leaving them too little time to recovery and build. Next, the stress on your muscle will cause fatigue and soreness for a prolonged period of time, resulting in a poorer performance in your subsequent gym session, or even worse, risking possible injuries. It is normal to feel sore and fatigue after a good workout, but there will be a breaking point where your muscles or joints hurt, and you should not be crossing that point.
Also, overtraining may result in injuring yourself, causing pain on your body, as mentioned before. This will not only affect your daily life, but also cause mental stress on your body as well. Alternatively, one could also take a de-load week where you would lift significantly lighter weights (60% 1 rep max) to allow your muscles to recover. Exercising is a definitely addictive hobby, and once you feel and see the benefits of exercise, you will want to push yourself harder. However, when you start to recognise that your body is feeling pain, that is where you take a step back and stop. Rest and recovery are also vital so be sure to give your muscles some time off.
Starting your fitness journey is definitely not an easy task, but once you make your first move, that is half the battle won! If you are still not confident, FITLUC's got you all covered! Our Celebrity Personal Trainers here are professionally trained and certified to guide you along your fitness journey, planning a workout routine for you, pushing you hard while making sure you do not overstrain and stay injury-free. They also offer assistance to clients who require dietary aid and help them meet their nutritional levels! Drop us a WhatsApp message at +65 8812 0110 or book a Personal Training trial with one of our dedicated trainers to explore if personal training is the best choice for you and lets #GetThatFITLook!!!
Just a heads-up, it will probably be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
Co-edited by: Jasper J.
Looking for a Personal Trainer in Singapore? Look no further! At FITLUC, we specialise in Personal Training and Fitness Experiences. From In-Person to Online to even House-Call Personal Training, our vision is to inspire Fitness as a Lifestyle. If you have the want to train, we got you covered! FITLUC is based in our 3-storey PT exclusive gym at Outram Park (21A Keong Saik Rd, S089128).
We are recognised as one of the Top 12 Best PT in Singapore and were featured on Mothership, The Straits Times, YES 93.3FM, Yahoo News, etc. Our Personal Trainers have worked with clients aged 13 – 84, from Celebrities to CEOs, working professionals and homemakers, with goals ranging from fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain to athletic performance and elderly training. Our celebrity clientele includes Tay Ping Hui, Maxi Lim, Hazelle Teo, Tayying, Lee Teng, Ze Tong, Benjamin Tan, Jaspers Lai and more.