For anyone who has been told it’s not about the gear, it’s about the blood, sweat and tears when it comes to starting at the gym, many experts would disagree.
It is true: to develop your muscles you need to perform regular resistance training and callisthenics. For improved endurance, you need to strengthen your muscles and work on an exercise that keeps your body working for longer in order to condition yourself.
For a healthier heart and to burn fat and calories you need to take part in routine cardiovascular activities. All of that is true without small print, however, after just a few sessions at your new gym, you will quickly find that there is more to it than that, and just a few simple things ticked off a checklist can make a considerable difference to your performance.
So without further ado, here is your list of essentials for starting the gym:
Arguably just as important as what you do in the gym is what you put into your body. This can at first feel like a challenging balancing act as you adjust to your new regimen. Your body may not be used to your increased heart rate, the dehydration and muscle fatigue, so you need to make sure you equip your body with the right fuel to both get through your workout and recover after.
To begin, you need to have a solid amount of protein and carbs so that your muscles can grow and recover after.
Recovery is just as important as having the right protein and energy, to begin with. You don’t want to be one of those people who go to the gym one day and sits aching for the next three. Part of the answer to that is getting the right nutrition and hydration during and after your workout.
A good place to start is with a whey protein blend, which you can easily transport in a shaker so that you have the protein and carbs you need ready and waiting as soon as you’re done.
The Right Shoes
If you’re new to the gym, trainers might until now be a matter of fashion, but after your first run the howling blisters you encounter will let you know otherwise. Trainers not only provide comfort but also protect you from injuries in ways you may not have realized by supporting your arches and ankles, which can affect your knees, hips, back and posture.
You could argue that the average workout could be achieved naked if it weren’t for the looks you’d get at the gym. Even for athletes working out in the privacy of their own homes, performance can be considerably improved by the clothing you wear.
Moisture-wicking fabric can help during strenuous, sweaty runs, and base layers can help to cool or respectively warm you up depending on the climate.
Compression clothing can be crucial in guarding your muscles against injury as well as recovering after. In the event of an injury or inflammation, which will occur when you overheat your muscles, the best solution is to rest, elevate and compress your muscles, which is where compression clothing comes in.
A decent sized water bottle may seem an obvious necessity, but until you know what facilities are available at your new gym this could save you money from buying much-needed bottles from the vending machine, or sharing the communal fountain.
Towel & Padlock
At many gyms, it is compulsory to carry a small towel to wipe down equipment after you use it. The same goes for securing your locker if you should arrive on day one and find you should have brought your own.
Resistance Band & Foam Roller
Resistance bands and foam rollers are not readily available at all gyms, but many experts swear by them as part of their daily workout. Foam rollers can help to work out any tightness and lactic acid in your muscles and can be incorporated into stretching and yoga.
Resistance bands are likewise an essential piece of equipment that is often overlooked. They are an effective tool for working niggles out of tired muscles as well as warming up and down for a session.
This is both a physical and mental necessity. Of course, you need to prepare mentally for the gym so that you can get the most out of it, but by taking that a step further and coming up with an actual written plan you can really hone your time spent in the gym to meet your goals.
So, if the aim is to lose a little weight and tone up, pencil in what exercise you will be doing, when and how much for each day, then tick them off when you complete them. This is a good way to ensure you cover what you meant to in the gym so that you can be sure that you are on the right track.