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A Beginner’s Guide to the Gym: The Basics

A Beginner's Guide to the Gym: The Basics

Are you a newbie to the gym? Or maybe all you know how to do is use the treadmill, and have never picked up a dumbbell? This post is for you!

A Beginner's Guide to the Gym: The Basics

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

All About Cardio

Creating/Recording My Lifting Routine

Finding Motivation

This post is going to cover some very BASIC components of your gym routine. I truly believe it is crucial to stick to the core basics and keep it as simple as possible. This goes for all levels of experience in the gym–but ESPECIALLY beginners. There are HUNDREDS of exercises and techniques I can show you, but so you don’t get overwhelmed and discouraged–we will stick with the basics 🙂 .

A PERFECT workout for beginner’s and those looking to switch things up, would be my Week of Workouts Guide! It is a super detailed full body workout split that I often use with clients. Prepare to be sore and really see some results! Grab your copy now! Psst…it’s only $5!

GRAB YOUR COPY

Pre-Workout Snack

Before you hit the gym, I suggest a quick little snack no longer than 2 hours before your workout (preferably 30 minutes before or so). You are going to want something rich in carbs because carbs provide a quick bout of energy and are effective for that extra oomph when training. Some examples of things to snack on before your workout:

  • A Banana
  • Berries
  • Energy Bar (look for lower sugar/sodium options!)
  • Lenny and Larry Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Pre-workout drink/amino acids

Warming Up

Okay. So you are at the gym. Time to warm up before you workout! There are two types of stretches you can do, static and dynamic stretching (covered more in detail in my Week of Workouts e-book). Performing static stretches is bad before you workout because you are my likely to pull a muscle or get injured.

You want to perform dynamic stretches BEFORE you workout. I usually like to perform movements similar to what I will be doing in my workout using no weight, little weight, or light resistance bands.

I also like to warm-up with some light, low intensity cardio for 5-10 minutes on the treadmill, stair climber or bike. 

Total time spent warming up: 15-20 minutes

Weight Lifting

The part that many people neglect. The world of weight lifting can be pretty scary. Again, if you need a SPECIFIC workout routine to get you started, the Week of Workouts e-book is an inexpensive and effective option!

Check out this blog post for some more info on setting up and recording your workouts and bodybuilding.com for some exercise ideas!

I could go on for hours about the little details of weight lifting, but I will outline some of the BASICS:

  • Try to vary what body parts you are working each day to avoid being sore all over the whole week! (Day 1: Back and Biceps, Day 2: Lower Body, Day 3: Core and Cardio, Day 4: Full Body, etc.)
  • Look at your rep and set ranges for each move according to your goals: 3-4 sets is a good starting point. Other set ranges are used for different lifting techniques.
    • 6-10 reps=Strength and Mass
    • 10-15 reps= Toning and Sculpting While Achieving Some Strength
    • 16+ reps= Fat Burn (more of a cardio exercise if performed in excess and you WILL lose muscle mass.
  • Be sure to rest for 30 seconds-2 minutes in between sets depending on what you are doing.
  • Include around 5-7 different exercises in your lifting routine. The actual lifting should take about 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. This does NOT include cardio. Try to keep it simple–exercising too long can effect your progress negatively!
  • You can work abs daily, as this is the fastest healing muscle. You can have a specific core day, or simply do some exercises or a circuit at the end of your workouts! 

Cardio

Ah yes, cardio. First of all, when you perform cardio, you should stay in a certain heart rate range. It differs depending on your age.

The equation I like to use is: 220-your age= A number. Take 65-85% of this number and it is your desired cardio heart rate range that is optimal for fat burning.

Now, this equation isn’t perfect as it takes into account everyone, not just the average joe. So, if you are in good health, I suggest bumping it up 10 points. If you go a little over the range and you feel fine, don’t stress it!

Some tips for your cardio regimen:

  • Have 2-5 minutes of both a warm up and cool down.
  • Switch up the style of your cardio every couple of days (HIIT, LISS, etc.) Learn about the different styles of cardio HERE. 
  • How long should you cardio? Average time is 20-45 minutes. Find what works best for you and your metabolism. You really shouldn’t go over an hour. It’s bad for your metabolism.
  • How many days a week should you cardio? Again, depending on your goals adjust accordingly.
    • Maintaining? Maybe 2-3 days.
    • Looking to cut? 4-5 days.
    • Looking to gain? Maybe 1-2 day. It takes some experimenting!

Cooling Down and Stretching

This is where your static stretches come in. Pinterest is your friend when it comes to different static stretches that you can do!

The benefits of stretching after you workout are:

  • Helping to lessen the effects of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
  • Preventing injury
  • Increasing flexibility

Take some time to really stretch out those muscles that you worked that day. Hold the stretches for about 10-30 seconds and take advantage of any stretching machines that your gym may offer!

Foam rolling is great here–and definitely think about taking an epson salt bath at home! It works wonders for sore muscles.

Total Time Spent Cooling Down: 10-15 minutes

Post Workout Snack

Protein is crucial post workout. It helps to preserve muscle mass so you will gain strength and be more toned up! Plus, you always feel great and energized after your post workout snack!

Be sure to grab a protein-rich snack no more than 30 minutes after you workout! Some ideas that you can use:

  • Protein Bars
  • Protein Shakes
  • A salad with some chicken, veggies, almonds, etc.
  • An egg omelette filled with veggies