Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health; and joining a gym can immensely help you to do it regular. If you are planning to join a gym then this article is specially for you. Here I have combined the most important suggestions which can be really helpful for you to achieve an optimum fitness. All these suggestions are based on personal experience and academic references.
General Questions About Gym Time
When Is the Best Time to Workout?
There is no reliable evidence to suggest that a certain time of the day is best for workout. So, the best time to workout for you is when you have time. So you can workout regularly and make it a habit. Check you daily routine and figure out what time of the day you can exercise without any interruptions.
How Often Should I Go to The Gym?
Consistency is the most important key to achieve anything. It doesn’t matter whether you go to gym for 3 days a week or 7 days a week; but how consistent you are. For a better consistency, you must go to gym for a minimum 3 days a week as Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you can manage, 5-6 days a week is much better option.
How Long Should I Workout?
There is no ideal length for a workout because it all depends on person, exercise type, exercise intensity, goals, experience and many other factors. A workout can be last 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes or more. The point here to understand is; finding a balance between undertraining and overtraining. If you workout for a very short duration, you will not get satisfactory results. If you workout for a exceptionally long duration, you will be caught up in overtraining.
A complete gym workout has many phases like warm up, strength training, cardio and cool down, looks like this:
Warm up – 10 minutes
Strength training – 40 minutes
Cardio – 10 minutes
Cool down – 10 minutes
So you can complete your workout within 60-90 minutes easily.
General Suggestions About Nutrition & Supplements
Focus More on Natural Diet
An athlete’s nutrition requirement is much more than a normal person. If a normal person has a capacity to lift 80 kg, he will never lift more than 20-30 kg in his entire life. So he is using his body 30-40% only. If an athlete can lift 100 kg weight, he tries to lift 120 kg. So, he is using his body beyond his capacity. This is the reason an athlete needs much more nutrition.
Major source of our nutrition is our food. So if you want to get results in gym, spend more time in kitchen. Include high quality protein, complex carbs, good fat, fruit, vegetables and salad in your daily diet.
Important Meals Before and After Workout
- 90-120 Minutes Before Workout: Take a full meal, rich in protein, carbohydrates and fats. 20 grams protein, 50 grams complex carbohydrates and 10 grams of good fat are enough.
- Immediately After Workout: Add high quality protein and simple carbohydrates in a post workout meal. 20 grams protein and 50 grams carbohydrates are enough. Don’t use fat and fiber after a workout; as it will slow down your digestion rate.
- 90-120 Minutes After Workout: This is the time to have a complete meal; rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber.
Use Supplements Carefully
If you are a beginner, you don’t need any supplement. As I said above, focus on your natural diet. If you are not able to complete your nutrition requirements with natural diet, you can go for dietary supplements. But always remember, dietary supplements are just a choice, not a substitute.
As a beginner, a whey protein and a good multivitamin are sufficient for you. You don’t need anything else, but if you really want to add something other than protein and multivitamin, you can add BCAAs, fish oil or glucose. If you think you need a caffeinated pre-workout drink, choose coffee, very mild and effective.
The so-called gym trainers will come to you to sell you different fancy supplements; simply say no to all. If they force you too much to buy any other supplement; ask them the reason.
Never Buy Cheap Supplements
If you don’t have a good budget to purchase a high quality supplement then go for natural sources, but never compromise with cheap supplements. Suppose, if you need a protein supplement and can’t afford a high quality brand, use natural sources like eggs.
Buy Genuine Supplements
In Indian market, almost everyone is selling fake supplements. Fake supplements can be really dangerous for your health. So always buy genuine supplements, with GST invoice, company seal, importer tag and hologram.
Don’t Use Gym Canteen, if Possible
Many gyms provide canteen facility for its members where they sell loose supplements servings. You should avoid them for two reasons. First, they can sell you fake or expired supplements in this way and you can never know the reality. Second, buying a single serving will cost you much more. So, if you can afford, buy your own supplement jar.
Say No to Steroids
So-called gym trainers will advise you to take steroids to get quick results. Steroids are like strong drugs; extremely dangerous for your health. So never use steroids.
General Suggestions About Workout
7 Most Fundamental Exercises
There are countless exercises you can perform in gym with different types of weights and machines. Every exercise has its own pros and cons; but there are 7 most fundamental exercises that everyone should do. It doesn’t matter, you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced athlete; these exercises will give you 100% results. We can put these 7 exercises in 3 categories as push, pull and squat.
As you can see in above picture, you can push out and pull in from three directions. These are called overhead press, bench press, dips, pullups, row and deadlift. Squat is the 7th exercise in which you push in 2 directions at the same time.
Learn and practice these exercises, more and more, to get an optimum fitness. A few more things to remember:
Free Weights Are More Effective Than Machines
You will find different training machines in gym. Machines are easy to use and can assist you to perform different movements; but free weights are always better. Free weights can help you to get better functionality, balance, strength, muscles and size.
Posture Is More Important Than Weight
Posture is more important than weight. Always perform a lift with perfect posture to get full benefits and to avoid injury. A 50 kg deadlift with perfect posture is far more beneficial than a 100 kg deadlift with poor posture. Once you understand the movement, increase weights in small amounts, maintaining your posture and technique.
Focus on Compound Lifts
There are two types of exercises, compound and isolate. Compound exercise can cover many muscle groups at the same time; for example, bench press, deadlift, overhead press etc. Isolate exercise covers only a few small muscles; for example, bicep curls, triceps extensions, leg extension etc. Focus more on compound lifts to increase your strength and size faster.
Say No to Ego Lifting
The biggest mistake one can do in a gym is ego lifting. It means lifting heavy weights, beyond your capacity, with poor posture just to impress or compete someone else. I have seen this many times in gym. Some people just to impress girls, show off or to compete others, lift too heavy weights and finally go to hospitals. So best advice for you is, just focus on your own personal goals and don’t try to outfit anyone else.
Choose Your Workout Partner Wisely
Personally I prefer to workout alone because it helps me to focus on my training, goals, variations etc. Also it helps me to save time. But if you are a beginner, need some motivation and support then you must find a gym partner. A gym partner can be very beneficial for you as he will motivate you, support you during workout, help you to check posture and technique, encourage you to stay on the track. But a bad gym partner can get you in trouble.
Always choose a gym partner who is reliable, have same fitness goals as yours, keeps his mouth shut, someone who cares and have a positive and motivating attitude.
Suggestions About Gym Hygiene & Etiquettes
Always Keep a Towel with You
Sweating is normal if you train hard in gym and it is good for you. But remember, only your sweat is good for you, not others’. If you don’t want to face itches and rashes problems (specially in upper back area), then always put a towel on gym machine or bench, before using it. Otherwise, other person’s sweat (who was using that machine or bench before you), will come in contact with your body and can compromise your skin and health. This is also a reason to never go shirtless. Always wear a clean cotton t-shirt in gym.
Use a Mild Perfume
Some people use really strong perfumes in gym. They actually don’t feel it themselves, but it can be uncomfortable for other persons. So always use a perfume with mild fragrance.
Re-Rack Your Weight
After completing your exercise, put all the weight plates and dumbbells to their places back. Throwing weights here and there can become a reason for someone’s injury. Think re-rack as an additional set as it will help you to increase your functionality, grip and core strength.
Take a Shower After Workout
Taking a shower after a workout is greatly beneficial for you. It will relax your body and mind. It will also help you to reduce the risk of rashes caused by sweat and bacteria. Your muscles will recover faster, and you will feel fresh.
It is recommended to wait for at least 20 minutes after a workout to have a shower. Workout produces heat in your body, and it takes almost 20 minutes rest to completely cool down. You can drink your post workout protein shake and practice some slow breathing exercises to cool down your body.
Show Respect to Everyone
Every person has a different goal when it comes to fitness. You will find professional bodybuilders in gym who are really serious about their training and physique. There are powerlifters who can lift giant weights. There are others who come to gym to enjoy; only workout and don’t care about diet and progress. Every person has a different goal but believe me; everyone is great. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much weight you can lift, how big muscles you have; treat everyone with respect.
Strong persons are those who cheer, motivate, encourage others. They don’t put others down. I can understand, sometimes we are too busy or in stress, but it doesn’t give us a right to disrespect someone. So treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
Learn More About Health & Nutrition
Importance of Knowledge
Fitness is a lifestyle. It is not a thing that you do just once and get done. It becomes a part of your life; a part of you. Learning about fitness and health will keep you up to date on latest researches and trends; also keep you motivated. Manage some time to read and learn about health and nutrition. Learn about exercises, food nutrition and good habits to improve your health.
Best Sources of Information
When we talk about information, books are always on first priority. There are so many misleading books too. You have to choose wisely. Always choose a book which is reference based. Reference based books provide citations/references/sources of the written content at the end of each chapter or in the last few pages.
Internet is also a source where you can read articles and watch videos on every topic. There are only a few websites and YouTube channels that provide right information. Most of the websites and YouTube channels are projected, endorsed, funded, maintained or influenced by supplements and drug companies; so they don’t tell you the facts. This is an extremely critical issue; I will explain it to you later.
Thank you so much for reading this article. Wish you all the best.