It’s no secret that getting yourself self to the gym is the most difficult part of starting a workout routine. Even experienced lifters have days where it’s difficult to find the motivation to train. However, another common hurdle that is acknowledged less frequently is what to do once you’re there!
In today’s internet age, it’s easy to find workouts and exercises recommended by others online. Even if you’re able to determine which recommendations are credible and which are not, you’re still left with a number of options. Do you follow the classic bodybuilding approach and stick to a muscle group split (chest & triceps, back & biceps, legs, shoulders & arms)? Do you join a local Crossfit gym? Do you take group exercise classes? Do you go running, swimming, or biking? Then you’ve got to decide what equipment to use, machines, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, stairmasters, none at all (bodyweight exercises), the list goes on. It can be an overwhelming decision, and commonly leads to people jumping around from format to format and never fully receiving the benefits from any of them.
Luckily, there really is no right or wrong answer. It certainly depends on what your specific goals are and what you have access to, but picking a plan, sticking to it for 8-12 weeks, and challenging yourself each day will give you results.
Some general rules of thumb...
Use Compound Movements: The larger the movement the more work (force*distance) you will be doing. Large movements burn more calories and recruit more muscle fibers. These movements will be key for stimulating a metabolic response for weight loss, recruiting a maximal number of muscle fibers for strength, and getting the most bang for your buck when focusing on building muscle.
Train Your Weaknesses: The purpose of exercise is to create an adaptation in your body. You’ll be able to create the largest improvements/adaptations in those areas that need the most work.
Push Your Strengths: It can be difficult to truly challenge your work capacity with an exercise you just learned. While you’re working on form and learning new exercises, leave those in a skill section of your workout. Focus on mastering the technique and not pushing your limits. Then, in the main section of your workout, challenge yourself with exercises and movements you are familiar with. Push your limits and see what you’re capable of! It’ll be easy to quantify improvement if you failed after 8 repetitions your first day, and were able to complete 13 repetitions two weeks later.
To reiterate, it can absolutely be overwhelming deciding what to do when you go to the gym. The big secret to finding success in obtaining your fitness goals is there’s no secret program or format. All it takes is some hard work and dedication.
*Please leave a comment below with any feedback or questions you might have. For additional in depth programming, please send a request via my contact page
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