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New Year, New You: the dos and don'ts for gym newbies

I get it, when a new year rolls around we want to get that journey started. It's brilliant! As much as some people turn their noses up at the 'new year, new you' crowd, I think it's a positive thing (like, come on, it is, you can't deny that). But, slow your horses there. I know we want to get right on it and sculpt away at that body, but read a few of these dos and don'ts to help you get there.

Disclaimer: As with any lifestyle change, do your research before delving in. It might be advisable that you check with your GP for any contraindications before making any changes.

Don't jump in 5x a week all of a sudden. You'll be so sore, you won't want to go back to the gym (If you've been doing 5x sessions a week before, then obviously this doesn't apply to you; this is to those who are joining the gym and starting). Without adherence you get zero results. So start slow.

Do consider starting the first month with twice a week. Next month 3x a week. This will allow your body to slowly but surely get used to your workouts, adapting in a steady manner like this will often keep people more motivated and adhere to their 2018 goals. The frequency of your visits will depend on your goals, it may not be necessary to get up to that 5th time a week anyway!

Don't set unrealistic goals. If you can't reach them, you will be very demotivated to carry on your healthier lifestyle.

Do set out long term goals with short term goals in between that get you there. This is an easier way of approaching the big picture. Not only is it less overwhelming, but when you achieve those shorter termed goals, you will be further motivated to the next short term goal.

For example:

Long term goal: "Fitting into my suit I used to be able to fit into for my friend's wedding in December". Short term goals: could range from "getting to the gym twice a week", to "being able to 1 full push up", to "only having 1 snack per day".

Don't think you can load up a bar that you can barely lift. So what, you completed that rep, but it looked ugly as hell. Your body learns by practising. You need to practice that movement, with a light weight, that doesn't challenge your form, and learn the movement without compromising your positioning too much. Do this before moving on to what you find heavy.

Do start too light. Hammer home perfection. Then, once that movement has become second nature, slowly but surely increase the weight on the bar. 2.5kg per week adds up quickly. Give that 10 weeks and you've all of a sudden loaded up an extra 25kg.

Don't be scared. We all were beginners at one time. Not everyone who walks in the gym were already shredded, strong and herculean looking (some lucky gits were, but we'll ignore those people).

Do ask. There are personal trainers in gyms for reasons, we are there to help. Some are there to prod you until you train with them, so by all means, be wary. This does depend on what type of gym you are attending (the fitness industry is like this i'm afraid, some personal trainers have to meet targets). But, most are there just wanting to be helpful, so do ask them for advice. Especially for those of you scared to lift weights for the first time. It is an overwhelming experience, and I can totally get with that. But, you will have to pluck up the courage and get in that weights room at some point. You will reap so many benefits from lifting weights you'd be doing yourself an injustice if you don't do it! If you are at a gym where perhaps the PTs aren't so friendly or knowledgeable, you can always send me a little message and I'll help you where I can.

Don't hate the gym. If you think of exercise as punishment, then you're approaching it wrong. You'll never be motivated to get in there with that sort of thought pattern. Your attendance will drop and your results will regress.

Do find something you enjoy. There are a plethora of different disciplines within fitness, you are bound to find one you enjoy and you'll get results off of them, much more than giving up and doing nothing. Powerlifting, Strongman/Strongwoman, CrossFit, running, swimming, triathlons, walking (do try to make sure you get some resistance work in whatever you do decide to do in the end). But, whatever you do, don't do nothing. Exercise and being active is not a choice. Your body and mind will reward you for moving.

Don't cut out everything and anything. You don't have to live a life of restriction. This extreme can be left to the bodybuilders and physique competitors, not the gym newbie.

Do have a look at what you're eating and make changes. If your goal is to lose fat, then you need to create a slight calorie deficit. Here are some things you can do to help guide you towards a slight calorie deficit without having to do much thinking. Maybe try introducing them monthly throughout the year, keep what works for you, scrap what doesn't work. You'll eventually find a bit of a sweet spot to what suits your lifestyle and gives you the results you desire.

  • Smaller portions of food

  • Less snacking in between

  • Drink more water; it helps your body function! It also can help reduce hunger cravings. Do this in general anyway, (no matter what your goal is) most people don't drink enough.

  • Intermittent fasting (there are many protocols out there, find the one that might suit you best, and as always check with your GP before drastically changing anything).

Don't be disappointed when your results aren't happening as quickly as you liked. Rome wasn't built in a day. The turtle wins the race. It's all about slow and steady.

Do expect slow results.

Do be consistent.

Do have masses of patience.

Do take progression photos at least once a month, or even better once a week. If you're doing everything right, you will see small, but positive changes.

Thanks for reading!



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