After taking some time off, you’re ready to get back in the gym with a positive attitude. Your alarm is set and your workout gear is out for easy access in the morning. You got this. But before you head to the weight room and get back into your routine, be sure to avoid these five habits.
Having a good attitude and being excited to start a new training program is great. But, if you start pushing yourself too hard during the first few days, sore muscles and joints may keep you out of the gym. Begin slowly, there’s no rush. Start with lighter weight, two sets of 12 reps, for each exercise. Slowly increase the weight, reps and sets after a week or so. If you notice that your muscles are sore during the first week, make sure to stretch and take a warm Epsom salt bath along with a pain reliever.
2. Don’t forget to eat!
Too often, people start a strength training routine and immediately opt for a super strict diet. This is NOT the time to limit or skip meals. Proper eating habits and strength training go hand in hand. A healthy, balanced diet consists of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Following are a few examples of these food groups:
- Lean proteins: eggs, tuna, beef, chicken, beans
- Complex carbs: rice, oatmeal, whole grain or rice pasta
- Healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado, nuts and natural peanut butter
All of these are important for energy, muscle growth and recovery. When people aren’t seeing the changes they desire, it’s typically because of poor nutrition. Plan and prepare your daily meals and stick with it.
3. Switch it up – don’t work the same muscle group back-to-back
When drafting your workout plan, make sure you are not training the same body part day after day – otherwise, you’ll risk exhausting the muscle. For example, if you train your back and biceps on Monday, work out your chest and triceps on Tuesday. Or if you do a full-body circuit, take a day off in between. Each muscle needs a day to rest to repair itself for growth and toning.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If there is a machine or exercise you have a question about at the gym, ask someone. Most strength training machines have instructions on them, but if you’re still unsure of how to use it, ask a fitness trainer or gym employee. Same goes for any exercise that may feel unclear to you. Don’t be shy, most people will enjoy helping you!
5. Don’t stray from the plan
We develop habits by repeating a behavior, so it becomes very important at the beginning of a new program to stay consistent. This means you should avoid skipping days or being random with your workouts. The benefits of developing effective workout and clean-eating habits will progress overtime with consistency. If it helps you, log your time on a calendar or journal. Make your strength training a priority, set a regular schedule and stick to it.