Before you hit the gym, maybe for the first time, you may be having some question about exactly what you should do. This mini guide is here to help you hopefully answer some of those questions.
Should I warm-up before my workout?
Yes, you should warm-up before every workout you do. Warming up allows all of your muscles to be ready for the workout. It is also wise to do this because you are at less risk of an injury. When you warm-up, you are loosening the muscles in your body, thus giving them less of a chance to tear and pull. Injuries to muscles occur during workouts when they aren’t warmed up properly. If you just jump straight into the workout, your muscles could be tight and when you over exert them, you could get a serious injury.
What is a good warm-up?
A good warm-up is one that gets blood flowing through all of your muscles. A fast paced walk or a light jog for anywhere between 5-10 minutes is an adequate amount of time to get the blood flow necessary to have your muscles loosened up. Make sure you have the proper movement, getting your arms involved because this insures that you will get the best warm-up possible.
Now you may see other people doing warm-ups that last 20+ minutes. For you, the beginner, this isn’t necessary. You won’t be pushing your body to the same limits as most of the more advanced people so your body doesn’t need that kind of warm-up.
Should I try to max out right away to see where I am at?
No, don’t push yourself too far too quick. You need to really ease into working out, especially if you haven’t been one to really workout before. When you push yourself too far too quick, you are greatly increasing your risk of injury, even with a proper warm-up. It’s just not safe to do.
Along with the risk of injury, you will probably be too sore to even move the next day. You will not be setting yourself up very well. You don’t want to workout once, then not be able to do anything for the next three days. You won’t be making any kind of progress. Your body will stay the same.
Should I start with bodyweight training or can I go straight into weightlifting?
For someone that is just starting out in the gym, it would be best to do both bodyweight training and weightlifting. Try to find a routine that incorporates both.
Bodyweight training will help strengthen multiple muscles at once and weight training will increase the strength you have in weak areas.
Once you establish a good base for your strength, you can then move on to more of one or the other. You should always do a little bit of one. Don’t neglect either one completely. Both have their pros and cons, but when they are combined, you are able to get to where you want faster.
How many sets and reps should I be doing?
For most exercises, 4 sets is usually a sufficient amount. You don’t have to push yourself more than that. I believe that the main problem comes from the rest time people give themselves between sets. Giving yourself no more than a minute rest time between sets will give you good results over time. Giving yourself more than a minute after each set will just slow your body down.
When it comes to reps, it really depends on exactly what you’re doing. To be safe, it would be good to start with doing 10 of whatever exercise you plan on doing.
As you progress, you can cut your rest time, do more sets, and do more reps if you want to. Since this is for beginners, it is advisable that you don’t overdo anything until you feel you are completely comfortable with your strength and workout routine.
Should I do a cool down after my workout?
Yes, cooling down is essential for the overall development of your body after a workout. Cooling down allows your body to recover faster and helps with some injury prevention.
After a workout, your body will be pumped up, blood flowing all over, and your heart beating really fast. You don’t want to walk out of your workout with all of this still going on. Your muscles will tighten up even more when your body finally does cool down. This will make you even less flexible than you already are which will prevent you from getting the most out of your next workout, unfortunately.
What is a good cool down?
A good cool down will consist of something that allows you to drop your heart rate and stretch the muscles that were worked during the workout.
Just like the warm-up, you should do a very light jog for about 5 minutes. This will bring your heart rate down to almost what it should be (resting heart rate). After this is done, spend about 5 minutes stretching whatever muscles you worked during the workout. Make sure to hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds. Doing this helps elongate the muscles, which will allow you to get stronger in the long run.
A cool down can be whatever you want it to be, just make sure it includes something that will bring your heart rate down and stretch your muscles.