THIS ARTICLE COVERS >
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT GYM?
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WORK OUT?
SHOULD I BE LIFTING WEIGHTS?
HOW MUCH WEIGHT SHOULD I BE LIFTING?
I DO SO MANY SIT UPS WHY WONT MY BELLY SHRINK?
HOW IMPORTANT IS BREAKFAST?
WHAT ARE THE COMMON MISTAKES WHEN STARTING OUT?
DO I REALLY NEED A PERSONAL TRAINER?
WHEN CAN I EXPECT TO SEE RESULTS?
CAN I JUST TRAIN ARMS?
It is an unfortunate part of our society that people fear being ridiculed for asking what might appear to be a silly question, but all too often the same question resides in many people’s minds. This is highly applicable to the Health and Fitness community, which is doubly unfortunate because knowing our bodies, and its capabilities, is crucial for day to day health and overall longevity. So lets take a look at some of the most popular questions.
How do i find the gym that is best for me?
For most people, the first step into a gym can be an intimidating, scary or strange experience. But rest assured, find the right gym and for most, it soon becomes a home away from home, an escape from the grind and an oasis for time to focus on yourself. Finding the right gym for what you need and want means doing a little research on the gyms available in your area, online and through word of mouth recommendations, keeping a few important points in mind.
- Proximity to work and home - Be close enough so that the travel time does not become an excuse not to train.
- Equipment - Be sure to find a gym that has what you need for the type of training you are going to be engaging in. Some gyms are tailored towards experienced patrons only.
- Staffing - As this is your first gym experience, find a gym with staff on hand to help you, guide you and make sure you are training safely and correctly for your desired outcome.
- Opening hours - 24 hour gyms are becoming more common and are a fantastic option for those that require to train at odd hours. Be aware some 24 hour gyms may not have 24 hour staffing.
- Cost - Most gyms are flexible with costs incurred, monthly or yearly terms are commonly available and prices will vary depending on the gym, size and class inclusions/availabilities.
Plenty of gyms will allow a free trial period or an introduction to the gym as to allay any worries or concerns with new members. Some may even offer a complimentary training session with an in-house personal trainer. The most important point however, is that when you enter a gym, even the biggest or the fittest or the strongest person in there all began with the same first step as you. So take that initial step and let the momentum build.
How often should I work out?
Depending on the goals of each individual, timeframe in which to reach the goal, time available, and what you have to work with, how often to workout can vary greatly. It may seem to make sense that training more frequently will get results quicker but that is not always the case. Take for example a 20 year old man looking to increase muscle mass. To increase muscle mass, the young man will need to apply stimulation to his muscles by training them in a way so as to trigger change, that is to say, he will need to push his muscles past what they are comfortably capable of currently. this type of training however will require an increase recovery time and also an increase in calories to provide the recovering muscles with sufficient nutrition. So training 4 days a week may be ideal for this case.
However in the example of a person hoping to significantly decrease body fat percentage in a short period of time, a more intensive schedule will need to be implemented to get results. Up to twice a day 5-6 days a week may be necessary to achieve the desired outcome. The most important factor to understand however is that as individuals, our bodies each respond and recover in their own ways, and learning to work with YOUR body is vital to getting the best results for YOU.
As a guide for general health and maintenance Genesis Nutrition Australia would recommend 3 to 4 hours a week of moderate intensity exercise. For those aiming to produce results either in weight-loss or muscle gain, seek to engage in 4 to 5 hours a week of moderate to high intensity physical activity, broken up into 5 or more sessions per week.
Should I be lifting weights?
The answer to this question may be more straight forward for a few but less so for others. A common misconception is that lifting weights will trigger a sudden increase in muscle mass, or an unwanted masculine appearance for ladies. The misleading truth that lifting weights CAN lead to muscle bulk, does not mean that all weight training should be avoided at the risk of getting "too big".
The focus instead needs to be on the type of weight resistance applied to working muscles. Weight-loss, muscle gain, toning up etc, is all simply in response to physical stimulus applied during exercise. A 100 metre Sprinter requires immense power of the starting blocks and so can benefit from large leg muscles for acceleration; however the large muscle requires more blood to be pumped through it to deliver oxygen and so would adversely affect endurance. A sprinter can sacrifice endurance for the increase in power.
Using the example of a sprinter, resistance training of short bursts, with heavier weights will produce a muscle more suited to the requirements. Alternatively an athlete engaging in 1500m events can benefit from muscles that are familiar with more resistance over time, that is muscles accustomed to endurance, and as such would benefit from weight resistance training that utilises higher repetitions with lower resistance.
The point the take with you is that it is the type of resistance has everything to do with the result. As much as the increased resistance of walking up a hill requires more effort than walking on a flat, and results in increased calorie expenditure, the same goes for weight resistance training. Increased weight will stimulate more muscle growth to adapt to the stimulus. The growth will depend on the type of stimulus applied.
How much weight should I be lifting?
With the above knowledge acquired, and the choice to incorporate weight training into your routine, the question; "How much weight?" is often asked next. The simplest and safest way to start is to pay attention to your repetitions. Aim for a count of 10-12 repetitions. We can then decide the appropriate weight by the difficulty in achieving the desired rep range. If by the 10th repetition you are unable to complete the motion then you would be correct to reduce the weight. If upon completing a 12th repetition and you find the effort was minimal or easily achievable, then the weight can be raised until you fail within the 10-12 rep range. We should always listen our bodies when it comes to resistance training to ensure we provide enough stress to trigger responsive muscle adaptation, without causing damage to ligaments and tendons.
I do so many sit-ups so why won't my belly shrink?
Another common misconception, widely supported by late night advertisements, is that doing crunches, sit-ups and abdominal biased exercise will develop a dream six-pack. The truth however, remains that a strong core is critical to posture, balance and overall health, but it cannot be displayed as long as accumulated body fat remains in place, covering your abdominals. The most effective pathway to reducing belly fat is to burn calories to reduce stored overall body fat percentage. Sit-ups, as far as an efficient method of burning calories, does not rank very highly on the list of fat budging exercises.
So to really fire up the belly torching training routines, try high intensity interval training. Short sprints of high output followed by medium periods of low intensity. For example; picture yourself on a football (rectangular) field, completing laps. For interval training you would sprint the short length of the field and walk the longer length of the field. The high intensity sprints really ramp up the heart-rate and the active recovery of the longer lengths allow you to catch your breathe without coming to a halt, momentum can help in a big way during these hard sessions. The hard work will pay off, and the belly will shrink alot faster than if you continue doing countless sit-ups.
Is breakfast really that important?
Quite often people tend to skip on breakfast, either due to time constraints as we rush off to work, general lack of appetite or it may just be an old habit that, does indeed, need breaking. Even the work "Breakfast", literally means to "Break Fast", to end the period of no eating that occurs whilst we sleep.
Breakfast is of critical importance, for people seeking to gain, lose or even maintain weight. Often referred to as the "most important meal of the day", it is the meal that will set up the body for the rest of day; it triggers the metabolism and fires up a range of physiological processes that are vital to well-being. As we attempt to function on an empty stomach the negatives can compound rather quickly. As discussed, the metabolism will remain at its stunted rate of rest that we had whilst sleeping, couple this with an unstable mood, poor concentration and a tendency to snack on unhealthy options, and the argument for a good breakfast becomes stronger.
The body simply does not function optimally unless we provide it with the correct nutrition, and timing is just as important. So don't skip breakfast and you can perform at your optimal level.
What are the common mistakes when starting out?
Don't be embarrassed, everyone makes mistakes. Even the most experienced person you can see in the gym will have at some point made the same or similar mistakes that we can help you avoid. Common mistakes for beginners are important to address however, due to the fact that injuries can occur, both immediately and also cumulatively over months of poor form.
Some examples of easy to make mistakes are; Using the wrong equipment for the wrong purpose, using too much or too little weight, training too often or not enough and incorrect form when performing particular exercises. Expanding upon these few examples, most mistakes can easily be fixed by a little advice and guidance. For an in-depth guide to training specific body parts, refer to the guides in our training section. Also take time to familiarise yourself with your surroundings in the gym. Making use of the machines in your gym is a great way to maintain good form, as they are designed to do so, and commonly have a short guide with diagrams to follow on the equipment to make it even easier.
the important thing to remember is that don't be shy to ask the question. You will find most people are happy to help out a beginner and gyms will always have helpful staff to guide you in the right direction.
Do I really need a personal trainer?
The choice to hire a personal trainer when joining your first gym, starting weight training or setting a particular new goal, can be critical. When joining the gym for the first time there is a lot to learn. Joining your first gym can be viewed parallel to learning to drive. Almost everyone would agree that hiring a Driving Instructor greatly increases the speed which a student can learn to drive. The same is true when obtaining the guidance of a professional Personal Trainer. Learning to train correctly and safely is crucial to achieving results, training comfort and your health.
A Personal Trainer can also be greatly beneficial for pushing you past the boundaries of your own mental limitations. The mind sets a limit typically based on comfort, the body however can usually push well beyond this point, and this is when the results really start to happen. The services of a professional may not always be required, in time you may feel comfortable with your level of experience or find a great training partner at your gym, but initially the benefit of a qualified Personal trainer cannot be overstated.
When can I expect to see results?
We all would like to see results as soon as possible, but the road to results is often stained with sweat and tears. Hard work and discipline are familiar terms that can be applied to various areas of life. Training is no different. The results you can achieve in a given time-frame have obvious physical limitations which need to be observed to maintain an injury free and functioning body, but you can definitely push that body it too its limits.
Setting yourself realistic and achievable goals for a given period can be a great way to track your efforts and also can be used to inspire your next workout. On days when u feel you may not make the 10km mark on the treadmill you can look back and see you have achieved it before and you can do it again.
Every one of us is different and results over time will vary, but it is important to keep in mind that every workout is moving you closer than the day before and even if you have days when it appears you have not made any progress, you will still be better off than if you had done nothing and regressed back to the old you that didn't even have a goal.
Can I just train arms?
Many men see the bicep as synonymous with strength, big arms representing power and dominance, but the reality of training only one body part, weather it be arms or chest or any preference, will general lead to very poor results. The Human body will typically maintain a proportional balance to the physique, as this is the most efficient set-up. Some gains in size and definition can be made with out doubt by training one particular body part, but the bodies preference for proportion will usually stunt any further development until an overall, total body increase in mass is required.
Besides the aesthetic desires, it is also important to maintain balance and proportion for general health. Almost every movement we make begins in the core. The fact that we walk upright demands a strong core for optimal functionality. So if larger arms are the goal for example, if you ever hope to curl 100kg, than you should be incorporating some serious core strength training into your routine, as it will be your core that holds your legs in the correct position, your core that maintains a straight back, your core that allows you to lock your shoulders in position and your core that will prevent you from swinging widely with every repetition.