Your Beginner’s Guide to a Successful Gym Session
Are you someone who avoids gym sessions because you don’t know how to use the equipment, or feel you intimidated? Samantha Clayton, vice president, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness at Herbalife shares some tips and knowledge so you can walk in to your next gym session with confidence!
Beginner Gym Session
First things first: find the stretching area when you get to the gym. Grab a mat, sit down and perform some simple stretches. You can also calm your nerves by doing something that feels familiar. Some of my favourite simple stretches (among many) are:
- Neck stretch: Sit up tall and slowly roll your neck from side to side. Hold the stretch on each side after a few rounds.
- Upper back stretch: Loosen muscles in your upper back by reaching your arms out wide and then crossing them over to the opposite sides.
- Calf stretch: Stand up and place one leg in front of the other. Slowly bend the front leg, keeping the back leg straight with heel on the floor. Repeat on the other side.
- Quad stretch: Hold on to something for balance and while standing, grab up one ankle and gently pull back until you feel a stretch in your thigh area. Repeat on the other side.
Warm-up with cardio equipment
Once you’ve looked around during your stretch, head over to your favourite piece of cardio equipment and spend 10 minutes getting warmed up at a steady pace. If you need help operating a machine, the gym staff are usually more than willing to help get you started. Some cardio machines you might try are an exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine.
After you’ve warmed up, go to the free weights area. Grab a set of dumbbells that suit your fitness level and perform some upper body exercises. If in doubt, always choose a lower weight—good form can be more effective than a heavier weight. Here’s a sample beginner level strength circuit:
- 15 overhead chest presses
- 5 bicep curls
- 15 dead lifts
Repeat so each move is done 30 times.
Back to cardio equipment! Spend 20 minutes doing an interval style workout. I advise using the manual setting instead of using a pre-selected program, as it will give you confidence with the equipment. For beginners, work hard for 30 seconds, and active rest such as walking or a much slower pace on your machine of choice for 30 seconds.
Hit the machines
In my opinion, the squat machine is the simplest piece of equipment in the gym. If you’re a gym newbie, this is a great place to start with machines. Perform three sets of 10 squats using a light weight. Other machines to consider are the chest press machine, leg press machine, and hamstring curl machine.
It’s time to go back to the stretching area for a cool down. Hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds. Be creative and make up your own favourite cool down stretch routine. Do what feels best for your body.