Question: I feel lost and overwhelmed in the gym; where do I start?
Answer: Using a personal trainer is a great way for newcomers and “start-overs” to get an exercise program designed with your specific goals and limitations. You get a safe, effective workout under the watchful and experienced (check references please) of your trainer. Personal training sessions are also great for fit or experienced gym members to re-energize their routines and break through pesky plateaus. If you can’t get a training session yet; here are a few basic workout guidelines to ensure a solid, strong start in the gym.
Have and keep a positive attitude. Studies in the
The physical side of the fitness equation calls for equal focus as well. Your workouts need to be physically challenging yet tolerable. If you have health issues please contact your physician to help set some safety guidelines. The use of a certified trainer is another way to minimize risk of injury and maximize your efforts. Please don’t be misled into thinking your toning muscles or burning calories without a little “sweat equity”. Low levels of intensity that usually are in the “fat burning zone” still require some amount of exertion. A good indicator of intensity or pace for your workouts is the conversation method. If you can’t talk with ease throughout your routine, try to back off a bit.
A lot of people feel that cardio (treadmill, elliptical, rowing or cycling) is boring and difficult to stay with. Recent research at the University of Missouri has shown that 3 ten minute bouts of activities (with a few strength training exercises in between those cardio times) instead of the continuous 30 is just as effective at burning calories yet feels significantly easier to complete. You can even try different activities for each of those ten minutes sessions to keep it even more varied and interesting. Remember, it is generally considered bad form at the gym to fall asleep on the recumbent bike.
You can also more bang in your calorie burning buck by putting most of your cardio activity in the end of your workout session. An example would be a 5 -10 minute warm-up, a few stretches on the tight areas with limited range of motion (we all have them), your 20-40 minute strength routine followed by 10-30 more minutes of cardio.
This sequence was tested by the
Core and functional training are the big buzz words these days for good reasons. Improving your strength and flexibility in those low back muscles stabilize and support the spine and also enhance posture, balance, sports performance and even household tasks. Low back pain can also be decreased and higher levels of comfort are possible.
Exercises such as the standard crunch (keeping legs bent), or the “bicycle” performed with a controlled 4 count pace will help improve abdominal and trunk strength. The “plank” as it is known; is a simple yet effective core building exercise that is performed by resting on your forearms and toes. Hold this position with your belly off the ground and your back in a supported (non-arched) position) for 15 to 60 seconds. Try not to let that “bridge” position sag. If that is too hard try doing it on your knees first and gradually build up your time and tolerance.
Multiple joint exercises also are a way to integrate core and functional training into your workouts. Lunges, dumbbell bench presses and seated or bent-over rows are all movements that require additional stabilization and therefore burn more calories. They also improve your balance and range of motion while building strength. They are not only multi joint movements but they are multi-beneficial movements.
Try a few of theses suggestions and you will get good results for your exercising efforts.
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