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BEFORE FITNESS BEGINS

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Everyone has a dream body. Big & muscular, lean & muscular, slim & trimmed, flat abs, gain weight and lose weight all comes within the fitness periphery. Starting any sort of fitness program can be a daunting experience. Most of us visit the nearest gym to make our dream body come true and come across those intimidating, big-armed men and lean, muscular women training with a serious attitude. We look around and are dazed by the expansive array of equipment. How does it all work? Even the vocabulary of fitness and exercises seem like a different language: reps, sets, spot, etc. But remember, all those big men and trimmed women were beginners once.

You enrolled in the gym – Great! What next is going to happen? When you are ready to set go, you’ll stop right there and think what to do at first. Helplessly, you may jump to a sophisticated treadmill, don’t know how to operate it; some starts cycling, which is the easiest equipment to use and some goes to look around the gym thinking where to start or next, you start looking at others performing exercises and try yourself out without caring whether the person you are copying is doing the right way or not. When this happens for a month or two or three, you start getting frustrated because you are not sure how you will get your dream body. This is the most critical point where most of us drop out from gym thinking that this doesn’t work.

It’s very important to include this gym-scenario here. If you are in Nepal, there is always a gym instructor who has to train you as a beginner but here in Australia, you have three choices: first, you can hire a personal trainer; second, learn from a friend who knows fitness very well, and third, learn by yourself reading magazines, books, watching videos and various other media.

But wait. Don’t quit because you don’t know fitness. You are not alone. There are lots who think in same manner.

Whatever your reasons to join the gym, write down your goals and realistic expectations of what you hope to achieve in the short and long term. Keep in mind, never push yourself very hard or rush to achieve your goals. Missing important fitness attributes can result in failure. Different people come to gym with different motivations, thus follow different exercise routines. A bodybuilder’s exercise routine is different from a football player; weight-gaining exercises will be different from weight losing exercises. So, copying other people may not help you achieve your goal but just wasting your precious time.

It’s really not so difficult, but before you get started, here are some points you’ll want to consider:

Get a Physician’s release:
If you are over 40 or have had any sort of previous injury, ailments or impairments.

Be realistic but positive:
Assess your current condition and where you want to be in three months, one year or two years. Keep focused on your goals and know you will achieve them.

Commit yourself to three months:
Always remember, sculpting body takes time and changes take place incrementally. If you are making adjustments about whether it’s working or not, you are a bit impatient. Our body structure doesn’t change overnight. Three months is long enough to see significant changes in shape and strength. You need to be persistent and dedicated to achieve your dream goal.

DESIGNING YOUR EXERCISE PROGRAM

You should have your exercise program handy every time you enter the gym. You can ask professionals or experienced friends to prepare your first exercise program for you. When you start getting to know the exercises, equipment and their purposes and confident in performing various exercises, you can change your routine any time later. Having a handy list of exercise you are going to perform the day will save your time, keep you more focused and have a great workout instead of standing there and think what to do next. Your primary objective here, as a beginner – to build a solid foundation in your understanding about fitness and exercises. Take your time to learn the few of the most important terms you have to deal with every time you do exercises or talk about fitness.

EXERCISES

You can choose from any number of movements that target a particular muscle group, however, beginners should stick with the basics to develop a solid foundation. The first exercise you do for a given bodypart should be a compound movement and target big muscles like chest, thighs and back.

WEIGHTS

During the first couple of training sessions, you have to go pretty light just to get a feel for how to do the movement correctly. After you feel comfortable with the form, begin adding weight. Even you can lift more weights, you should start with practically no weight to warm up your targeting muscles groups.

SETS

A set is a combination of any number of reps of a single exercise. As a beginner, you will normally want to do 1-2 light warm-up sets of each movement (especially the first movement for a given bodypart) before doing 1-3 heavier sets. That equals 2-4 total sets per exercise.

REPS

A rep is a single execution of one exercise (count).    If you do a set of 10 biceps curls consecutively, that’s 10 reps. during your first week or two, keep the weights very light so that you can complete about 15 reps in good form. This is a chance for you to practice good form while you work on your neuromuscular coordination and learn the proper “feel” for the movement. Developing that feel will become even more critical later on because it will tell you if an exercise is working.

PROPER FORM

We will say this again and again, but it is far better to use a weight that allows you to perform the movement correctly that to cheat with a heavy weight that will –sooner or later – result in an injury.

Speed of movement: Use a smooth, controlled motion during all phases of the lift. This deliberate rep speed produces the greatest results for bodybuilding purposes.

BREATHING

Most people don’t think much about breathing until they begin lifting weights. But it should still come naturally. Start each set with a deep inhalation and exhale as you push through the most difficult part of the lift. Inhale at the top (or the easiest portion of the lift) and exhale as you push.

REST BETWEEN SETS

In general, rest as long as it takes for you to feel recovered from your previous set. That normally ranges from 45-90 seconds. Larger muscle groups take a bit longer to recover; smaller muscle groups are ready to go more quickly. Don’t fall into all-too-common mistake of talking with your buddies for 3-4 minutes between sets, during which time your muscles can become cold. This is counterproductive and lengthens the time you spend in the gym.

 

SANJEET K SHRESTHA

REGISTERED EXERCISE PROFESSIONAL

NATIONAL BODYBUILDING JUDGE-NEPAL

Note: Article published in +977 Magazine, Sydney, Australia