Reaching that point where you’re ready to visit the gym and start training your body is a huge step. For many people it means overlooking a lot of personal worries and hang-ups but once you’re committed it’s understandable you want to get it right. Here we’re looking at the key factors which will influence your workout program choice and how to use them to your advantage.
The main factor which will influence your program selection is your skill level. If you’re brand new to exercise or coming back after a significant time off then you need to start it slow – an advanced program will not do you any favours. With some training background behind you, you may be able to approach an advanced setup but with lower weights or reps of cardio than you may have previously considered a challenge. Learning proper form and technique is more important than weight for complete beginners though so remember to start small and you will reach those goals.
Every individual has a recovery ability time and this will have some impact on the final program you may choose. If you’re new to fitness and resistance training then you need to know what your recovery ability is. Your recovery ability is how fast your muscles can repair after any given workout. You need to gauge how much exercise takes you to the level of exhaustion for the next day or two and then pace your program around this. If it’s not viable for you to spend 1-2 days feeling absolutely wrecked then perhaps you need to think about starting slowly and building up. Once you’re more active your body will be able to handle a higher level of exercise and you can update your program appropriately.
Your end goal will another key player in planning your routine and the workout plan you choose. The program you design will be very different if you want to build muscle versus decreasing body fat. A muscle-building program will involve a higher volume of exercises as you’ll be taking on more fuel to get through the sets. If you’re looking for a weight loss goal then your diet too will be key and you may be need to focus mainly on cardio rather than weight based training.
Real life doesn’t stop because you feel the need to start training. You need to put yourself on a program which is feasible so you don’t end up dropping out. Very few people are available to train five days a week so instead it makes more sense to work out what will fit into your schedule so you can stick to it. Most people can comfortably fit two to three sessions in a week and then your issue is simply ensuring you push yourself as hard as you can in the time you have. If you really do feel the need to put yourself on a program that needs you in the gym 4-5 days or more then you will have to be ready to make sacrifices in other areas.
You have to take into account your personal feelings towards the gym and its equipment. You might be predisposed to enjoy cardio or simply running through the park but for a full workout and a complete program you will need to work in some resistance or weights. Of course there’s no point putting yourself on a resistance-heavy program if the thought of it makes you groan but it will need to be worked in at some point. Take some time to work out what you enjoy as you’re more likely to keep going if you set up a program which delivers results and enjoyment combined.
For a full body workout program it’s likely you’ll need to visit your local gym. Try a few different sites until one feels comfortable or consider visiting different ones for different reasons – perhaps one has a pool for example. In addition to this it can’t hurt to have access to equipment at home. A set of dumbbells or a barbell can make all the different at home as you can carry out cardio exercises without any equipment. Challenging your muscles at every juncture will give you better results in the long run and designing a program which incorporates things you don’t have access to is simply wasting your time.
Planning your first workout program can be hard and it does make sense to contact fitness professionals if you’re struggling. When you’re inducted into your gym you may be able to discuss your needs with the trainer who shows you round. Once you’re into it you’ll be able to tweak things even further and you will soon see the results of all your hard work.
by Jessica Ward
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Jessica Ward
by Jessica Ward