It’s that time of the year again: hitting up the gym to shed some pounds for the 2013. While I don’t personally recommend hitting the gym and getting in shape for the sole purpose of a New Year’s resolution (I recommend incorporating regular fitness into your day to day life, it should never stop) I do applaud those who set-up a goal and seek out a means to achieve it. I’ve put together a list of basic tips for those interested in signing up for the gym to lose some serious pounds (or gain some serious muscle). I don’t consider myself a trained expert, but I’ve been working out for a number of years and have learned a few things that have worked for me. I’ve seen results and that’s what this list is all about: doing the right things so that you can see results.
1. WORK A SWEAT
Get ready to put some effort into your workouts. I see lots of people at the gym walking leisurely on the treadmill and reading a newspaper while exercising on the elliptical. I know these people aren’t working that hard and I certainly know these people aren’t going to see any significant results. That’s perfectly fine as long as you set your expectations accordingly. If you want to see a difference, you’re going to have to work hard and sweat it out. If you’re not huffing and puffing throughout your workouts, it means you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Do yourself a favour and take it up a notch.
2. GET RID OF THE PHONE
This is something else I see at the gym all the time. People playing with their phones (talking and texting). A phone is distracting and will interrupt the flow and focus of your workout. If you’re efficient with your time at the gym, you can afford to be separated from your phone for 30-45 minutes. I am a huge cellphone addict. Anyone who’s been around me knows I’m glued to my phone all the time. But at the gym, I leave it in the change room. If I can survive a workout without interacting with my phone, so can you.
3. CUT THE CHATTER / BREAK TIME
Minimize the amount of socializing and resting throughout your routine. Time spent chatting and taking long breaks again ruins the intensity of your workout. Keep your breaks short and keep your heart pumping. The less time you spend chatting, the less overall time you spend at the gym (30-45 minutes is ideal). And the less time you spend at the gym, the more likely you’ll go back on a regular basis as it’ll fit nicely into your schedule.
4. HIT THE WEIGHTS
A lot of people figure exercising on the treadmill, bike and elliptical (“cardio” workouts) will be enough for them to see results. Wrong. If you want to really shed the fat and see results, you need to hit the weights along with your cardio exercises. Weight training is a form of cardio-vascular exercising. In fact it’s much more effective than just running on a treadmill for an hour. You get to burn fat and build muscle mass at the same time making it twice as effective as running on a treadmill. Don’t be shy, go hit the weight rack.
5. CHANGE IT UP
Once you’ve developed a routine at the gym, you’ll need to change it up every 2-3 months. Over time, your body adjusts to the exercises and no longer benefits from them. You need to change it up in order to keep your body challenged. This also presents a great opportunity to try new exercises and develop different parts of your body. This will also prevent yourself from getting bored with the same exercises.
6. KEEP TRACK & GO REGULARLY
If you want to achieve results, you’ll need to go workout on a regular basis. I recommend going 3-4 times a week. Anything less is ineffective and anything more is probably too much for your body. Keeping a record of when you go to the gym is also helpful in maintaining your motivation. You’ll be able to align your expectations against your effort. To this date, I continue to keep track of my gym visits in order to keep myself going each week. After 6-12 months, it feels great looking back to see how committed I was.
7. FIND A COMPETITOR
This might sound a little weird, but it might be helpful to find a friend or stranger at the gym to “compete” with. Find someone who has a similar physique as you and pay attention to their workouts. Take a look at the number of reps they are doing, the types of exercises they are following and the types of weights they are using. Benchmark yourself against this competitor. This will help motivate you and keep you driven.
8. DIET PROPERLY
Exercise alone won’t help you get fit. You need to eat properly on a regular basis. Some say 50% of getting in shape is diet…others say it’s 80%. I think it falls somewhere in between. Regardless of the number, just know that what you eat and how you eat it plays a significant role in whether or not you see results. For more information on how to diet properly towards a healthier body, do your research. There’s plenty of information available on the internet and at your local book store. Just stay away from those stupid infomercials.
9. COMMIT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Don’t expect to see real visible results for at least 6-9 months. Unless you’re obese, you’re not going to see immediate results right away. Don’t let this discourage you! You need to commit yourself in the long-run if you want to achieve your goals. Keep working and don’t give up. There are absolutely no shortcuts to achieve your fitness goals.
I hope these tips have been helpful. Going to the gym is not for everyone. Some people find it boring, others just find it difficult to motivate themselves there. Do what works for you, whether it be intramural sports or fitness classes. As long as you commit yourself, you’ll be able to achieve your goals. Good luck!