A little over 4 months ago I started going to the gym. I do not claim to be an expert in the field of fitness at all, I am merely someone who started the gym a few months ago and has made considerable progress towards achieving what I set out to achieve. I wanted to share with you my opinions on the gym and the steps I have taken to get where I am today.
This is not a tale of how I lost 50kg in 4 months or how I gained 20kg of muscle, it is simply one gym-goer sharing his experiences and opinions.
Starting the gym
Fitness training can seem like a daunting experience for those just starting out. Many people are intimidated by other people and they are worried they will look like an idiot if they do something wrong or if they are doing less weights than someone else. There is one very easy way to get over this fear of, I guess we’ll call it, humiliation: stop giving a f**k.
So many people care way too much about what others think of them, and this can stop people making progress in many aspects of their lives. It’s amazing to see the lengths people will go to in order to just avoid being humiliated, despite the fact that the chances are, no one will care enough for you to be humiliated. You’ll stop caring so much about others’ opinions when you realise how little they care about you.
Now if you’re sat at home and you keep thinking to yourself “I want to lose weight” or “I want to put on muscle” or something like that, but you’re hesitant to go to the gym or go on a run, ask yourself why. If you have a legitimate excuse like a medical condition or you are at work 16 hours a day, then there probably isn’t much you can do. But I’m willing to bet most of you don’t have those kind of problems, right?
We all love to make excuses. We all love to put off things to a later date because we are “tired” or we are “busy”. But typically there is more to it. If you truly want something about your body to change, you have to make a change yourself. Once you’ve asked yourself the question why, if the answer is simply some excuse, then you need to take initiative and make that change.
I experienced this a few months ago when I started the gym. For so long I wanted to go to the gym but I was “tired” or “busy”, until finally I realised that just complaining about my body wasn’t going to change it. I had to do something, so I started the gym.
Believe it or not, it really is that simple. I search online for gyms near me, found the best one in terms of equipment I needed, price and location, and I signed up. If it seems simple, that’s because it is.
However, that’s not the hardest step. The hard part is actually finding the motivation to go to the gym and workout. We wrote a separate post 7 quotes to inspire you in the gym (and in life) which might help with this, so check it out once you’ve finished reading this. But just remember, a bird didn’t know it could fly until it jumped out of its tree, so take the leap and it might be worth it.
Find your perfect gym routine
Before I start this section I want to say once again that I am not an expert on fitness.
It is difficult to find a gym routine that works for you, but once you do you will be set for the rest of your time at the gym. I can’t tell you what your routine should be because we might have different goals. For instance I do little or no cardio, but you may want to do entirely cardio with no weight training. My recommendation would be to look around online and find people with the same goals as you and see the routines they have and give them ago. This is what I did when I started and it has worked excellently for me.
I think it is important that you go to the gym 3 or more times a week no matter what you want to achieve. Stop telling yourself you don’t have time and then go home to watch TV for an hour, that time would be much better spent at the gym or on a run because you’ll feel so much better for it.
I prefer to go 5 days a week in the mornings, and rest on weekends. I focus on one body part every day instead of multiple, which I think has been key to my progress. My weekly routine is: Monday – back day, Tuesday – chest day, Wednesday – leg day, Thursday – shoulders, Friday – arms. Some people prefer to combine days like back and biceps, chest and triceps, but this is not my personal preference. Again, it is all about finding what works best for you.
Keep reminding yourself why you started and push yourself
My reason for going to the gym was to lose some fat from my stomach, gain muscle and become stronger. So far, I have achieved far more than I thought I would in such a short amount of time. The reason I believe I have made so much progress is because I am constantly pushing myself every time I go.
The real trick is to do more than you think you can do. Let’s say you are doing bench press and you are benching 50kg for 4 sets of 8-12 reps. Once you have completed those sets, stick around for an extra set and try 55kg or 60kg for 2-6 reps. You’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you can do when you actually put your mind to it. Doing this will mean that next week you might be able to 52.5kg for 4 sets instead of 50kg.
If you keep your goals in your mind then you can always push yourself to your limits as you’ll want to achieve them so badly. If you lose sight of why you started, then you’ll start to lose focus and it will take so much longer to reach you goals, so keep reminding yourself why you started.
Stop caring what others think
I mentioned this at the beginning, but this can be a massive limitation on your progress. You might be scared of how others think you look, or you might be intimidated when you see people lifting 2, 3 or 4 times more weight than you can do, but everyone has to start somewhere. It is so disappointing to hear that so many people don’t do the things they want or love to do purely because they’re scared of the opinions of others.
At first I cared way too much about what people thought of me, but at no point did I let it stop me. If you are scared to lift weights because other people are lifting more than you, then how are you ever going to get stronger? If you’re scared about going on the bike or the treadmill because you feel like you are too fat or unfit, then how are you going to lose weight and get fitter? Stop focusing on other peoples opinions, stop comparing yourself to others and just get on with it.
Never give up
No matter how hard it gets, don’t give up. Giving up will be one of your greatest regrets when you look back. Keep searching for motivation to go and workout. When you are working out, don’t go home until you have no energy left. It is important that you don’t give up when you start to feel pain, but rather you need to push yourself harder at this point as this is when your body will start to truly feel the effects of your training. If you train up to the point of pain and stop, progress will be slow, so keep going.