Everyone, at one point or another, has had that feeling of not being as healthy as they want to be. You make a decision to go to the gym, buy the membership, then excuses appear and your commitment wanes, and you stop entirely. Although you may feel motivated to go at first, you may not truly know what it takes. Below are nine things to remember before you start to work out, hopefully ending in a more successful endeavor.
1) Motivation is the Key to Success
Just telling yourself you want to be in better shape is not enough unfortunately. You must have a true sense of motivation in order to overcome the tendency to quit after starting. This motivation can come in the form of a greater self-image, the desire to have more energy or being at that age in life when you have young kids running around and you want to be able to keep up with them. These are not the only means of motivation, but they are some worth which you may identify. Finding your source of motivation and drive will help you to push through that point that happens a few weeks into the routine when the results may be slow to show, and you doubt the point of it all.
2) Results Are Not Immediate
Being aware of the fact that you won’t see immediate results is imperative before starting a workout program. Any fitness program takes time, but for some reason when starting one, we expect to see results within a couple of days or weeks, which is when the discouragement begins. It can take a few weeks, even up to five or six, to start to seeing increased energy levels from working out. Physical improvements typically take longer, with noticeable improvements at about the two or three-month mark.
Now, all of this depends on the person, their health history, their age and dietary habits, but these values are approximate averages to show that instant gratification is not part of a workout program. Also remember that improvement is not a straight path. It may feel like you go up and down for quite some time before a difference can be measured.
3) Do NOT Compare Yourself to Others
Equally important to understand is that you won’t see immediate results, so knowing that comparing yourself to others, and their progress, can be detrimental to your fitness goals. No matter how many times we are told not to, we always seem to want to compare ourselves to others because we want to feel gratified that we are better.
This backfires quickly when we realize that we may not be as fit or as athletic as others in the same room. The fact of the matter is, everyone is different. When you are at the gym, looking around and comparing your state of wellness in relation to theirs is unjustified and uninformed. You have no way of knowing their exercise history, as well as how long they have been working out.
4) Exercise Can Be Boring
Once you’re past the stumbling block of not seeing immediate results combined with not comparing your progress with others, you still have to find a way to mix up your routine so it doesn’t become boring and mundane. One of the pitfalls of a fitness program is that the repetition of the same activity for several sessions can get boring and make the drive to continue dwindle. Finding a way to make the activity entertaining can help with this, but realizing that you will not always, if at all, like your initial fitness program, will help to keep track on a long-term program. A good tip is to find a music playlist that is both motivational and enjoyable to help combat the repeated activity boredom that sets in after a few workout sessions have taken place.
5) You Will Be Sore
Something that quickly becomes apparent is that working out will make you sore. Soreness is a good result to have, as long as it is not soreness to the point of dysfunction. If you are sore after visiting the gym, it means that you worked muscles harder than they had been worked previously, which means improvement is being made. Keeping a continued soreness through exercise is how a high level of fitness is attained.
The first week is almost certainly the worst when it comes to soreness, but it does get better with time. As your muscles adjust to the activity level, you will notice the hurt is more manageable and less prevalent in your daily life. If you feel particularly sore in one area, change your workout a little the next time to give that muscle group a rest.
6) Make Sure to Rest
Matching a good workout with a dedicated and scheduled day of rest will give your muscles a much needed day to relax and rebuild. Fatigue is a major source of injury when going to the gym, so spending every second of free time you have lifting or running will cause you to potentially burn out and seriously injure yourself if you continue for too long.
Soreness is caused by the muscle fibers tearing when stressed, which allows them to grow larger and stronger, increasing strength. Without rest days, these fibers may not have time to rebuild, and if they do rebuild, may not be as strong. Research into most notable workout programs will show a scheduled rest day, which should be emulated in your workout.
7) Be Careful of Taking Friends With You
Friends can be great motivators when going to the gym, but be cautious about taking too many with you when you are actually working out. A gym is not a social gathering hotspot, and when a large crowd goes together, there becomes a bottleneck in the flow of traffic, slowing down your personal workout schedule. It also can annoy others who are in the gym with you.
Both of these can be attributed to the casual conversations that happen between friends. Conversations naturally flow, which means that between reps you might find yourself starting a conversation, or ending a workout entirely because you would rather be with them in another venue. Save the socializing for a time when you are not dedicated to bettering yourself on a physical level.
8) Focus on Specific Areas
We’ve already mentioned that if you feel a particular area of your muscles is abnormally sore, alter your workout and focus on another area. Something to consider is to assembling a workout that focuses on different areas on different days in order to build in days of rest, while also giving you a specific workout plan for the day instead of going to the gym and mindlessly hopping from machine to machine.
Focusing on specific areas on a scheduled basis will help to ensure that you equally train all areas too. Without realizing it, you could train parts of your arms and back for several days straight, leaving other parts of those same areas untouched. This can cause one set of muscles to do all the work, leading to chronic pain and abnormal motion of muscles and tendons.
9) Ask for Help
As with trying anything new, if you don’t feel one hundred percent confident about what to do in a situation, ask for help. There will always be people who know more than you in a particular field, and asking for their assistance doesn’t mean that you are inferior. There are personal trainers, experienced athletes, and even friends of yours who are in better physical shape and would be more than willing to help out if you ask. If neglecting to ask for help has been the issue in past attempts rendering less success with your goals, make the commitment to ask for help until you figure out what works for you. Then you can confidently make an exercise routine that will better your physical standing.