Pressing pause on your favorite TV series and into the gym can be an intimidating process, it may seem others know a lot more than you do. To be successful in your fitness goals, it's important to start off on the right track. Far too many newbies feel lost setting foot at the gym, develop bad habits, and then struggle to achieve their goals of building muscle and burning fat.
If you can make your first steps positive ones, you'll avoid feeling lost at the start of your fitness journey.
- Make it A Habit
Going to the gym once is definitely a great start, but you won't notice changes in your mind and body unless you make going to the gym a habit. It might sound like an impossible task, especially when you have a full day already, but working out 3-4 times each week for at least three weeks is absolutely essential to your budding success.
Building lifelong habits take time, but once you've built those habits into your daily schedule you'll notice that missing them is frustrating. Experts say it takes 21 days to create a habit.
When skipping the gym becomes more annoying than a relief, you know you're on the way to success. Be consistent in your plan and you'll reach your goals.
- Control Your Lifts
Beginners often learn by watching. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you copy somebody doing a lift improperly, it means you're not doing it right, either. Most often, bad form comes from trying to lift too much weight too soon. When that happens, most people turn to momentum rather than muscle contraction to move the weight.
The better you can actually contract each muscle group correctly during a lift, the more your muscles will grow.
Heavier weight can wait. How much you can biceps curl matters very little. What's important is learning how to squeeze your muscles to move the weight rather than using your hips to thrust the weight up.
- Do Compound Movements
If you've never stepped foot in a gym or haven't been in one for a long time, going right to isolation moves that work just one muscle group at a time won't bring you the best results.
To get the best results for muscle growth and fat loss, it's best to start with compound lifts like the squat, bench press, shoulder press, bent-over row, deadlift, pull-up, and lunge. You want to use multiple muscle groups at the same time. Doing them will allow you to lift more weight, hit more muscles, and increase your metabolic rate much. To start, select lifts that require you to use at least half your body to do them. You can add isolation work as you get going.
How your spine is set during your lifts can have a huge impact on your body and the amount of weight you're able to lift. It's best to keep your lower back slightly arched, your chest up, and your head and neck in a neutral position, no matter which lifts you're doing.
If your core is weak, then your spine doesn't have any support. When you're lifting—even during movements as simple as a biceps curl—engage your core. You might feel like you're just flexing your abs, but you're also engaging those deep, inner core muscles that protect your spine.
Just because you hit the gym doesn't mean you get to spend the day eating comfort food. What you do in your workout is just a small piece of fitness. What you do with the rest of the time you're not in the gym is much more important. A clean diet is key for both your mental and physical health, Get your diet squared out first before worrying about anything else.
The word "diet" can be a little intimidating. Nutrition doesn't have to be difficult. To start, get rid of all the processed crap in your diet and eat proper protein and vegetables at every meal.
You can still enjoy good food but make smarter choices. Instead of having pizza, try making quinoa and green beans. You can still make food that tastes good. It just takes a little more preparation.
Going to the gym finishing a workout is a huge part of building your best self. An often-missed principle of lifting is a strong contraction or squeeze at the top of every movement.
Whether you're doing biceps curls, triceps press-downs, or leg extensions, squeezing as hard as you can at the top of the lift will help you build muscle. Challenging those muscle groups to work that much harder will pay big dividends.
- Finish Every Rep
Many beginners focus too much on the first part of the lift and forget all about the lowering part. I know it's fun to watch your muscles flex, but letting the weight drop quickly and without control can be disastrous.
You want your muscles to be strong all the way through their entire range of motion, not just the first half of the lift. If you cannot control the weight during the lowering period, you're probably lifting too much weight. Lighten the cargo until you can control it on the way down again.
- Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask someone about how to do an exercise or what muscle group it works.
As a beginner, you'll likely have lots of questions. There's nothing wrong with that! The worst thing you can do is keep yourself ignorant and develop bad habits, lift improperly, and find yourself working hard without seeing results. If you're too shy to speak up, consider booking a session with a trainer. It's their job to answer your questions.
- Thoughts and your Muscles
Consciously telling your muscles to move in a certain way will help you visualize and develop the target muscle group. The mind-muscle connection is the way to maximize a workout.
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