First, you open the front door…
When you haven’t been in there before, the gym can be an overwhelming place. Even if you decide to lift some weights or have a go on the treadmill, you need to find out what program is right for you. As a general rule, teenagers need 60 minutes of physical activity a day to stay fit (along with a healthy diet). Not all of that needs to be in a gym, but it’s obviously a big help.
Think about why you want to train
There are many reasons to hit the gym. There’s bodybuildingfor aesthetics (getting a six-pack to impress the ladies/dudes/yourreflection). Powerlifting for raw strength. Crossfit for multidisciplinaryfunctional training (that means “a bit of everything”). Once you’ve worked outyour goal, start thinking about your training split. What, specificially, willyou focus on each day? Thiswebsite has some good examples, but if you want something to work from,consider a 3-4 days a week schedule liiiiiike:
Start small and build yourself up
Getting fit in the gym is a marathon, not a sprint. Ifyou’re just starting out, you need to start small and build your way up toharder workouts over time. Don’t think of it as a competition with yourmates/rivals – it’s more like a personal high score table where you get betterand better over time. It can be difficult to judge how much you should be doing,but there’s some good advice out there.
Starting Strength isa really great regime for beginners. It’s really straightforward andtime-efficient, so it’ll work around your study. Anotheralternative is 5/3/1, which is a bit more complicated.
Get some proper advice
There’s no shortage of people willing to tell you how to use the equipment, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Listen to some rando with a dirty towel and you can wind up seriously injuring yourself. Instead, you should listen to the professionals who are paid to show you the ropes. A lot of gyms have trainers who offer a few free sessions. Take advantage of this to set your goals. Get them to walk through the whole gym, showing you each machine, how to use it and use proper form. Spend your three or so sessions doing that, then work on a training plan.
Don’t forget your warm-up
Before you do anything, you need to get your body ready tomove. Do some easy exercises and stretches to warm up your muscles, get yourjoints in flexible mode and protect against injury. It might feel like you’rewasting precious exercise time that could be spent doing harder work, butworking out without a warm-up is a bad idea. Foam rollersare really useful here, if you have one lying around.
Drink plenty of fluids
Not Coke or ice-coffees from the servo. Water is your best bet. Anyone who’s copped a massive migraine headache from skimping on liquids during a hardcore rowing machine session will tell you it’s no fun. You’re sweating out lots of fluids, and need to put them back into your body. (Not the same fluids. Disgusting.)
Put those supplements down!
Don’t waste money of tons of supplements. In the earlystages of training, you’ll be told you have to have protein shakes within 30 minutesof training, eat six meals a day and so on – but that’s all unnecessary advicewhen you begin. Honestly, a teenager doesn’t need them. Things like proteinpowders and creatine can be expensive, and you’re better off putting that moneytowards your gym membership. You really just need to eat more – but make sureyou’re eating good food, not junk.
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