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I’m a Beginner – What Gym Routine Should I Do?



Sigrid de Castella – ‘Half the Woman I Was’ Author, Speaker and Health and Business Coach

Deciding to get your ‘gym’ on is one of the best things you can do. The health benefits for all aspect of your body, mind and spirit are well researched. But going to a gym is a little different from just grabbing your runners and going for a quick jog. No, going to the gym is a completely different environment, and you want to make sure you see a return for your outlay of often big bucks.

Gym First Timers

Attending a gym for the first time is quite daunting. There are often so many classes on offer it’s hard to know where to start. And then there’s all those machines – you might be wondering what they all do and how you’re ever going to learn how to use them.

Gyms are great places to get some expert tuition or to just get your workout done when it’s cold, raining or just plain dark outside. And the recent proliferation of 24×7 gyms makes that task so much easier. So before you head into a gym, let’s spend a few minutes getting your head into the right space so you’ll be a bit more relaxed.

The Gym as a Way of Life

First things first, the main thing you need to know is that whatever you end up doing, to keep up your results you need to do it for the rest of your life. Exercise is not a fad. It’s not something you do solely to lose weight and then the weight miraculously stays off. No, as soon as you stop doing whatever you did, the weight comes right back. Exercise, love it or loathe it, really is a life-long commitment. It’s a way of life.

That said, you can now understand why it’s important it is to select a gym routine that works for you – the place, time, type and duration all have to work. So choose something that you can fit (or squeeze) into your normal schedule. Keeping it interesting and fun will make it easier to commit to long-term. And grabbing a partner to workout with can not only increase your commitment and motivation, but there is also a whole host of added benefits according to Mirel Ketchiff from Shape.com.

Gym is Not a Dirty Word

As a beginner, don’t be scared of the word ‘gym’. You’re not going head first into a weight lifting only routine, in fact quite the opposite. Gym staff will usually recommend you do a mix of activities so have a chat with them and ask them to suggest a routine. Staff at the best gyms will do a thorough assessment on you, and will only recommend things that are comfortable (and possible) for you to do.

Before you become a gym junkie it’s worth knowing that the most effective workout is a combination of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Resistance Training (RT) as opposed to the straight cardio fad of the 1980s – so Richard Simmons has officially left the building.

HIIT and You

You can read all about why HIIT works so well at Nerd Fitness. And HIIT’s effectiveness is also investigated in ABC Catalyst’s 2015 report “Fit in 6 Minutes a Week”. HIIT is a sensible exercise approach for making long-term gains with minimal effort. And it’s got a solid pedigree.

HIIT’s not new. It actually originated in the 1970s and used by track and field athlete Sebastian Coe. It has since morphed into a number of regiment including, more recently, the Timmons regimen (2012) used by Dr Michael Mosely in his BBC documentary the “Truth about Exercise”.

HIIT aside, if you’re looking for guided DIY information about specific routines then Shape.com has their “Best Fat-Loss Workout of All Time” and it’s pretty good if you have all the equipment and plenty of time. If you are time short then check out Women’sHealth Mag’s “5-Minute Fat-Blasting Workout” which focuses on Interval Training (similar to HIIT, but not as effective). It will take longer to get the results but it is a good routine, especially if you add some free weights where you can on alternate days.

Mix It Up

Just keep in mind that research has shown that after performing the same routine for three weeks your body switches off, and the effects of doing the same program start to diminish. To avoid this simply change your program every 3 weeks by selecting a different cardio exercise (rowing instead of bike), changing the workout time (15 or 25 minutes instead of 20) or the intensity (use interval programs and change out the interval duration). When it comes to resistance training simply change out your sets and reps – instead of 3 sets x 10 reps, do 2 sets by 15 reps.

Don’t Go Over the Top

Oh and there’s no point going overboard. According to Haroon Siddique of The Guardian doing more exercise won’t necessarily lose you more weight. There’s apparently a sweet spot for the ‘exercise to calorie burn’ ratio. And like anything, consistency is the key to getting (and keeping) good results. That and a solid commitment to your routine, and your body. After all, this is not a 6-week affair, it’s for life.

Eat Lean and Clean

And sorry … there’s also a bit more bad news. Even if you work out like a mad person, your eating regimen could actually undo all your hard work. Yep, a critical part of your workout is actually what you put in your mouth. Who knew?

If that’s the case then when should you eat, and what should you eat? A while back I gave some advice in my article What Are The Best Foods to Eat Before Working Out. But the big takeaway from the article is that most people load up before a workout, and it’s simply not required. You have enough reserves … trust me.

Instead, to burn the most fat from a diet perspective, don’t snack and follow a Ketogenic diet. According to Wikipedia high-fat, adequate protein, low-carbohydrate Ketogenic diet forces the body to burn fats, not carbohydrates. DietDoctor.com has lots of good information on it and a helpful searchable database of recipes. And Authority Nation also lists the foods to avoid here.

Beginner or not, in the end, it is all about doing what works for you and your lifestyle – there’s no ‘one fits all’ solution when it comes to health. Keep trying different things (both diet and exercise) until you find what works for you. What works for you won’t be the same for everyone. But what is the same is that the most important bit of any workout or gym routine is that you actually do it.

Sigrid de Castella

Sigrid de Castella is an internationally published author, speaker, and coach in the fields of health and business. Her book “Half The Woman I Was – How I lost 70kg naturally, reclaimed my life … and how you can too!” has received international acclaim and is hailed as the most comprehensive weight loss book on the market. Sigrid has also studied Personal Training with the Fitness Institute Australia and has a keen interest in whole food nutrition, natural therapies and all aspects of physical and mental health. Sigrid and holds a BBA from RMIT University and is a member of both the Australian Institute of Managers and the Australian Society of Authors.

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Want to Know More About Sigrid’s Book “Half the Woman I Was”? Then Don’t Hesitate to Watch this Video.

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Disclaimer: The information published in this column is based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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