There’s nothing quite as terrifying as going through those gym doors for the first time. What do you do next? Where are you supposed to go? Do you have the right items in your bag? These are all questions you might ask yourself on your first day, and they’re perfectly valid questions. This list will answer some of them and point you in the right direction so that you get the most optimal first-day experience at your gym.
Bring the essentials
Before you step inside the gym, you need to bring some workout gear. While it might seem obvious what to bring right from the start, it often leaves new gym-goers confused. You need to get familiar with the gym gear you need for day one and the workout days following it.
For one, you have to pick the right workout clothes. You probably won’t head to the gym in jeans and a shirt, even though this has happened to people on occasion. Sometimes they don’t know better, while other times they forget to pack the right clothes. For pants, sweatpants and yoga pants are great options. It really depends on how hot it is outside and in the gym. You might even want to wear shorts some days, but this is up to you.
When it comes to shirts, you have a wide variety of gear to choose from. You can bring a simple T-shirt or go with a gym shirt that makes your muscles pop. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you would feel comfortable working out in.
Having a separate pair of shoes just for the gym is an absolute must. You don’t want to drag in dust or mud on floors that people use to work out on. Consider bringing a towel as well. You’re going to get pretty sweaty after a workout, so being able to wipe off that sweat would be helpful. Other items and pieces of clothing are optional and aren’t really necessary for your first day. Once you get a hang of the gym and what you feel you need in there, you’ll know what to bring for each session.
Don’t go overboard on the weight loss
Working hard is the name of the game at the gym, but there is such a thing as working too hard. When you’re dead set on a particular fitness goal, you’re going to want to reach it as soon as possible. There’s hardly any room for waiting when you want to reach perfection, right? While working hard is a virtue, it’s also something that you shouldn’t really overdo. It can lead to some very bad results.
Take weight loss as an example. If you aren’t exactly satisfied with your current weight, you want to get it off you as soon as possible. The thing is, there’s a limit to just how much weight you can shed in a particular amount of time. This often depends on a couple of factors such as your current weight and how well you can handle weight loss.
Most people that hit the gym for the first time will probably look to shed ten pounds in their first day. It’s an admirable goal, but it simply isn’t attainable in such a short period of time. One of two things will happen. You’ll either leave exhausted and disappointed, or you’ll pass out from overworking yourself. Neither option will satisfy your expectations, so make sure you lower them before getting inside the gym. A more reasonable number would be losing a pound or two per week, and even that is pushing it. It’s all about staying persistent and seeing great results through months of training. It might seem far on day one, but it’s actually not going to take you too long to start seeing great results.
Have a daily goal in mind
Speaking of reaching your goals, you always need to keep your goals in mind. Fitness goals probably seem pretty simple in theory. You go to the gym, you work out, you see some progress, and then you leave satisfied. The thing is, long-term progress is what you really want from your gym experience. Keeping track of a distant goal is difficult if you don’t account for your daily progress.
This kind of goal can be just about anything that you might expect from your gym workout session. You don’t even have to have any results to show from your exercise. Not every workout is going to be about losing weight or gaining muscle. Think of cardio exercises as an example. You just want to work up a sweat and tire yourself out. This can be one of your daily goals for a session. It’s surprisingly effective compared to how simple it seems.
Your first day at the gym should include a well-planned daily goal. You want to experience something, so you make it happen. Perhaps you want to start lifting a small weight with proper form. You might want to get really exhausted from running on the treadmill or riding on a stationary bike. These types of goals are perfectly attainable and they’re great ways to get your body started with working out. Just make sure that you don’t set goals that are a bit too high for the first day. Light weights and ten-minute sessions of cardio should be what you start out with. Getting familiar with the gym experience can be your goal for a first trip as well. As long as you know what your goal is, you’ll be satisfied with your day one results.
Don’t forget to warm-up
Once you’re in the gym, you’ll want to jump right into working out. This is not exactly advisable, especially if it’s only your first day. You need to get your muscles warmed up and prepared for your workout. Otherwise, you might strain yourself in ways you probably wouldn’t think possible. So, how do you start your workout warm-ups? This is the easy part, but it requires a bit of patience.
There are lots of different ways to warm up for fitness exercises. Even trainers and experts don’t really agree on the best method, so you’re pretty much good with whatever you choose. You could start with some light cardio exercise to get your blood pumping. Hit the bikes and enjoy a bit of music as you ride into an imaginary sunset. Once you’re done, it’s time to get those joints warmed up and ready for resistance training and stretching.
Some people prefer to use certain kinds of stretching as an exercise. This is called dynamic stretching and has been shown to be an effective way to warm up before a workout. However, the jury’s still out about whether or not the stretching causes sight muscle tears that reduce your strength a tiny bit. On the other hand, you also have lighter versions of exercises you were going to do afterward, which can also be very effective. You simulate your goal resistance training workout with smaller weights and motions and then jump into harder exercises. For your first day, it really doesn’t matter which one you choose, as the results will be good as long as you do your warm-ups.
Try a bit of everything
This might not seem like sound advice for a first-timer, but it’s something worth considering on your first day. Gyms can be pretty huge places with more machines and weights than you can imagine. When you add other workout gear like straps and medicine balls, there’s a whole lot more to it. You can combine these elements into countless exercises, many of which you probably won’t even need to cover.
Use your first day to get a grip on some of the more common machines and weights in the gym. There are several reasons why you should do this. For one, you’ll figure out how they work and this will help you in other sessions where you’ll need to use them. At the same time, you need to get yourself familiar with the movements you have to do when working out. If you try every machine and weight, you’ll probably cover a vast majority of basic workout movements. Think of it as a kind of warm-up that also works on your technique.
No matter how strong you think you are, always start off with the lowest weights. It costs you nothing but a few seconds to switch to a higher weight if you feel it’s too easy. When you overdo it and sprain your ankle or shoulder, the recovery time can set you back weeks. Go easy on the weights and slowly get yourself familiar with workouts.
Stay hydrated and energized
Working out leaves you both physically and mentally exhausted. This is because it uses up a lot of resources like sugar, protein, and electrolytes. You have to replenish these elements in order to function more effectively at the gym. You can start with the substance that makes up seventy percent of our bodies.
Water is an absolutely essential nutrient for a good workout session. You want to be hydrated for the start of your day at the gym and keep your hydration up throughout. This is because water is consistently being used as you exercise. You’re sweating a lot more than you think, and this is causing you to lose water and electrolytes. Bring a water bottle or electrolyte water drink with you when you head to the gym and take a few sips here and there. Don’t start with giant gulps as that will make your stomach a bit too full of liquid for certain workouts.
There’s a reason people bring their protein shakers to the gym. Those muscles that are forming aren’t coming from thin air. They need nutrients to rebuild after tearing and getting used in workouts. If you don’t have one, make sure you get yourself a protein powder. It’s not just something that helps build muscles; it also improves just about every aspect of your workout. Protein shakes are great for their convenience. You can take a leak-proof protein shaker in your bag with you without worrying about it spilling. Drink a few sips between workouts and finish it up as your gym day ends. You’ll feel amazing afterward, and you’ll be in for some muscle gains.
Rest when necessary
There’s a lot of talk about overdoing things at the gym, but there’s one thing that you can’t really overdo, and that’s rest. Your body might not be used to the kind of stress and strenuous activity that you subject it to when you hit the gym. It’s something that it needs to adapt to over a short period, so make sure you give it some breathing time. You can’t go wrong with resting between sessions. Intense resistance training often requires several minutes between sets, so keep that in mind. People often underestimate how long a minute really is, especially in the gym. Make sure you time your rests and give yourself space to relax and recuperate. Take the time to sip your protein shake and get some water. Wipe the sweat off your brow and check out the news on your phone. The more you rest, the better your next set will be, unless you’re doing supersets. But still, you’ll have to take rests between several sets of workouts either way.
Resting also applies to your after-gym activities. Don’t try to run a marathon after hitting the gym. You need to make sure you get enough rest and sleep. Muscles don’t grow all that well unless you get an adequate amount of sleep. As you progress at the gym, you’ll want to have a regular sleep schedule, as this will optimize your results.
Your first day at the gym probably isn’t going to be a cakewalk. It’s a lot more likely that you’ll be anxious and unsure of what to bring and what to do. Because of this, you need to be well-prepared. It would be great if you planned out your first day with all the workouts you want to try and brought the nutrients you need. Keep the above points in mind and your first day will be optimal, paving the way for future gym adventures.