(ThyBlackMan.com) The beginning of the year always brings new fitness enthusiasts to the gym. Unfortunately most do not stick around to long due to a number of reasons. The most popular reason is they simply do not know how to use the gym for the most effective workout. The gym can be your best friend – if you make the best of it! Using the gym in a systematic way will lead to more results. The bottom line is to have a plan in place. You can make the best of your gym experience by following these five simple steps.
The warm up is the most neglected part of a workout these days. Gym-goers typically check in at the counter and head straight to the weights. Lifting weights (especially heavy weights) without a proper warm up is a recipe for injury. It’s best to perform a 7-10 minute low-impact warm-up before beginning your workout, preferably on a treadmill or recumbent bike. If you aren’t one for cardio machines, a simple jogging in place or around a concourse will do just fine. A warm-up is important because it increases the body temperature in preparation for the workout. Without one, your body remains cold and less flexible.
Stretching is also a neglected part of the workout for most people. As a result, most people remain inflexible. The greater your flexibility the more likely your muscles will be challenged. Do a 3-5 minute series of stretches before you begin your workout. Something as simple as toe touches for your lower body and shoulder stretches for your upper body will do the trick. Or, you can use the stretching stations that are becoming more popular in gyms.
After a warm up and some mild stretching, you have your choice of whether to do cardio first or life weights. There are several schools of thoughts regarding which way is most effective. For some people, getting the cardiovascular training in before lifting weights seems best. For others, lifting weights first is preferable, since it may act to reserve energy resources that cardio training may deplete. Do what feels best for you. I personally like get my weight-lifting in first and then punctuate that feeling of ‘tightness’ with some high-intensity cardio. You should aim for 20-25 minutes of cardio on lifting days and 40-45 minutes on non-lifting days. With cardio training, you are maximizing the heart and lungs, so it’s important to get it in.
The next phase of the workout is lifting weights (if you elect to do this one first). For most, lifting weights is the chief reason they go to the gym. After all, lifting weights increases one’s muscle and bone strength. The intensity of weight-lifting will depend on your fitness goals and your fitness levels. Don’t try to lift too heavy. Start out light and work your way up. Get some direction from fitness professional if you are unsure of where to begin. Lift weights for about 20 minutes, incorporating your compound muscle groups for maximum fat loss.
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