Let’s just pretend for a minute that you didn’t awkwardly get sold into an “elite performance personal training package” with your new gym membership.
It’s your first day, you’ve got no idea what to do, and all that you do know is that you’re trying to cut belly fat and build a little bit of muscle (or a lot of muscle).
Take these steps as your guideline to navigating the weight room.
STEP ONE: Get a little warm up in.
If this truly is your first time in the gym and working out, you can’t just start banging out bench presses and squats. Find a spot away from people and do a set or two of push ups, pull ups, body weight squats, planks, shoulder circles and walking lunges just to get the blood pumping. While you’re at it, observe the gym floor, get a good feel what machines and free weights are where. Use this time to get comfortable and acclimated with the space — as you progress, your workouts will develop a flow.
STEP TWO: Do a little bit of everything
Similarly to the above, when starting out for the first time, your body will go through a shock when you hit it with any kind of training. Muscle soreness actually can feel pretty good, but walking around like you got hit by a truck means you probably went a bit overboard. We recommend starting out with three workout days per week (on-off-on-off, etc.) and performing 2-3 sets of an exercise for each muscle group of the body at about 60% of your maximum ability. For example: Legs, squat. Chest, dumbbell bench press. Shoulders, dumbbell lateral raises. Biceps, dumbbell curl. Triceps, cable pushdowns. Abs, planks. We also suggest starting with dumbbells vs. barbells when first starting out as it will help with developing muscular balance. With barbells, the body tends to favor the dominant side.
STEP THREE: Always clean up your crap
Whether your gym is immaculately clean, or a bit rough around the edges. Always put away your weights and wipe off your equipment. No one wants to smell and feel your sweaty stinky ass — it’s disgusting. And no one wants to re-rack dumbbells and plates either. It really is a basic, understanding among gym-ers to clean up.
STEP FOUR: Refuel the right way
Once your workout is over there’s still one more thing you need to nail down — a solid meal. Make this a serious habit because it’s legitimate. You’ve worked up a sweat, pounded your muscles and they need to recover and rebuild. But you can’t refuel with just anything. Cortisol, a stress-hormone in the body begins to build up during workouts and can strip away gains if not suppressed. Give your body a shot of protein and carbohydrates. Whey protein, and a banana (or two) should cover you. However, try to avoid fats such as peanut butter and oils as these slow down the digestion process. Your goal at this point is the ship nutrients in the muscles via the blood stream as quickly as possible.
Good luck. Now stay consistent.