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Deciding to get your ‘gym’ on is one of the best things you can do. The health benefits for all aspect of your body, mind and spirit are well researched. But going to a gym is a little different than just grabbing your runners and going for a quick jog. No going to the gym is a completely different environment … and you want to ensure you see a return for your often big bucks.
Gym First Timers
Attending a gym for the first time can be quite daunting … there are often so many different classes on offer it’s hard to know where to start. And all those machines … you might be wondering what they all do and how you’re ever going to learn how to use them.
Gyms are great places to get some expert tuition or to just get your workout done when it’s cold, raining or just plain dark outside. And the recent proliferation of 24×7 gyms makes that task so much easier. So before you head into a gym, let’s spend a few minutes getting your head into the right space so you’ll be a bit more relaxed.
Gym as a Way of Life
First things first … the main thing you need to know is that whatever you end up doing, to maintain your results you need to be prepared to do it for the rest of your life. Exercise is not a fad. It’s not something you do solely to lose weight and then the weight miraculously stays off. No, as soon as you stop doing whatever you did, the weight comes right back on. Exercise … love it or loathe it … really is a life-long commitment. It’s a way of life.
That said, you can now understand why it’s important it is to select a gym routine that works for you: the location, time, type and duration all have to work. So choose something that you can fit (or squeeze) into your normal schedule. Keeping it interesting and fun will make it easier to commit to it long-term. And grabbing a partner to workout with can not only increase your commitment and motivation, there are also a whole host of additional benefits according to Mirel Ketchiff from Shape.com.
Gym is Not a Dirty Word
As a beginner, don’t be scared of the word ‘gym’. You’re not going to be hurled head first into a weight lifting only routine … in fact quite the opposite. Gym staff will usually recommend you do a mix of activities so have a chat with them and ask them to suggest a routine. Staff at the best gyms will do a thorough assessment on you, and only recommend things that are comfortable (and possible) for you to do.
Before you become a gym junkie it’s worth knowing that the most effective workout seems to be a combination of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Resistance Training (RT) as opposed to the straight cardio fad of the 19080s – so Richard Simmons has officially left the building.
HIIT and You
You can read all about why HIIT works so well at Nerd Fitness. And HIIT’s effectiveness is also investigated in ABC Catalyst’s 2015 report “Fit in 6 Minutes a Week”. HIIT is a sensible exercise approach for making long-term gains with minimal effort. And it’s got a solid pedigree…
HIIT’s not new. It actually originated informally in the 1970s and was used by track and field athlete Sebastian Coe. It has since morphed into a number of regiment including, more recently, the Timmons regimen (2012) used by Dr Michael Mosely in his BBC documentary the “Truth about Exercise”.
HIIT aside, if you’re looking for guided DIY information about specific routines then Shape.com has their “Best Fat-Loss Workout of All Time” and it’s pretty good if you have all of the equipment and plenty of time. If you are time short then check out Women’sHealth Mag’s “5-Minute Fat-Blasting Workout” which focuses on Interval Training (similar to HIIT, but not quite as effective). It will take longer to get the results but it is a good routine, especially if you add some free weights where you can on alternate days.
Mix it Up
Just keep in mind that research has shown that after performing the exact same routine for three weeks your body switches off, and the effects of doing the same program start to diminish. To avoid this simply change your program every 3 weeks by selecting a different cardio exercise (rowing instead of bike), changing the work out time (15 or 25 minutes instead of 20) or the intensity (use interval programs and change out the interval duration). When it comes to resistance training simply change out your sets and reps – instead of 3 sets x 10 reps, do 2 sets by 15 reps.
Don’t Go Over the Top
Oh and there’s no point going overboard. According to Haroon Siddique of The Guardian doing more exercise won’t necessarily lose you more weight. There’s apparently a sweet spot for the ‘exercise to calorie burn’ ratio. And like anything, consistency is the key to getting (and keeping) good results. That and a solid commitment to your routine, and your body. After all this is not a 6-week affair, it’s for life.
Eat Lean and Clean
And sorry … there’s also a bit more bad news. Even if you work out like a mad person, your eating regime could actually undo all your hard work. Yep, a critical part of your workout is actually what you put in your mouth. Who knew?
If that’s the case then when should you eat, and what should you eat? A while back I gave some advice in my article What Are The Best Foods to Eat Before Working Out. But the big take away from the article is that most people load up before a workout, and it’s simply not required. You have enough reserves … trust me.
Instead, to burn the most fat from a diet perspective, don’t snack and follow a Ketogenic diet. According to Wikipedia high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate Ketogenic diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. DietDoctor.com has lots of good information on it and a helpful searchable database of recipes. And Kyran Doyle has a whole host of yummy ketogenic snack recipes here. Lastly, Authority Nation also lists the foods to avoid here.
Beginner or not, in the end it is all about doing what works for you and your lifestyle – there’s no ‘one fits all’ solution when it comes to health. Keep trying different things (both diet and exercise) until you find what works for you. What works for you won’t be the same for everyone. But what is the same is that the most important bit of any workout or gym routine is that you actually do it.